Friday, July 31, 2009

Missing in Action

I haven't posted for a while because since Saturday night we have had family in town. This year we are hosting Dave's family for the annual family reunion. So rather than blogging, this week has been spent hanging out, making delectable meals, having fun with the fam and going on fun day trips. This also means that the previous two weeks were spent in a mad-dash attempt to clean, sort, organize, re-decorate, hang pictures and otherwise try to create the facade that our house is always calm, clean and orderly---- er, uh, I mean they were ACTUALLY spent in refined, graceful and elegant living, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to share our relaxed and elegant life with Dave's family. Really. ;)

I have been praying that we would have good weather this week and our fun plans would not be dashed by a surprise deluge of July rain (not out of the question here). Unfortunately, I must have prayed a little too hard and not been quite specific enough in my prayer: we have had beautiful, gorgeous sunny days all week-- and record-shattering heat. It was 107 degrees on Tuesday and it has been over 100 almost every single day. Pretty much unheard-of for this area. Note to self: when you pray for weather, make sure to be more careful -and specific- next time.

Luckily we have good air-conditioning and have had two beach trip days as well as an indoor excursion, so we have been surviving quite nicely in spite of the heat. The one exception was on Wednesday. After we went to the science museum, we headed downtown to get some croissants from my favorite bakery. What should have been a 5 minute drive took us an hour between horrendous rush hour traffic and making way for fire trucks. After sweltering in our cars sitting in traffic for an hour, we finally made it to the bakery two minutes before it closed. It turns out that the fire was in a building across the street from the bakery (which would explain why the traffic was so horrendous getting there, even on the smaller side streets).

After our hour-long ordeal of sweltering heat and traffic, we were still able to snag the last few croissants, some pound cake and even scored two bags full of bread that there were giving away because they were about to close. I guess even the best-laid plans can be foiled. I mean... I totally planned it that way. I was just trying to add excitement to our trip. How cool that we got to see firefighters and get free bread-- while experiencing this area's hottest heat wave ever! Luckily, it wasn't anything that dinner in an air-conditioned Sweet Tomatoes with a soft-serve ice cream machine couldn't fix.

I'll have to post more about our fun day trips when I get a chance... that is, after the reunion is over, after I finish posting about our trip to California, after I post pictures of our cruise to Alaska (from a month ago) and after I clean out the three-laundry-baskets-full of stuff hiding in my closet that never quite found a home before the reunion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What a Wednesday

I seem to be about a week behind in my blogging... which I suppose isn't as bad as how behind I am in other things. =] So this post is actually about LAST Wednesday. I posted about my decision to go to park day instead of staying home and cleaning house, but what I neglected to mention was that I also had a meeting at my house that night that I needed to get ready for. We were in the process of re-arranging the family room, so there were piles of toys and random things everywhere.

We went to park day and had a fabulous time. We stayed for hours until finally I could drag the kids away. This park had a huge slide (like a huge hill with steps on one side and a slide on the other) that kids would slide down using cardboard pieces. Jared asked someone to go down with him on the slide and at the bottom they landed on his hand. Jared didn't complain too much at the park, but as we were leaving he started to pick up the complaining: "Mommmmmm, my hand hurts. I think I broke it." Being the compassionate mother that I am, I told him to just ignore it and it would go away in a few minutes. We had invited some friends to come home with us and play for the afternoon, so finally I told Jared that if his hand hurt so very much, we wouldn't have his friend over and we could go to the doctor instead. I didn't hear another peep.

We went home and the kids happily played. You would think that I would have used this opportune time to clean the house, but I was exhausted so I just relaxed. When the friends went home it was almost dinner time, so I told the kids were going to have to really work hard to clean house, then we would eat dinner and then the babysitter would come to play with them during my meeting. I tried to sit Jackson up in his high chair and was greeted with extreme screams and flailing arms (someone did not get enough nap...). I was too tired to fight it, so I came up with plan B... if we were quick, we could use the kids' free kids' meal coupons at Red Robin for dinner (they had gotten from their check-up at the dentist). Then I wouldn't dirty the kitchen or have dishes to clean and we could just come back and pick up the family room. Perfect.

Off we went to Red Robin. Jackson was good and ate most of his food, but Jared, uncharacteristically, wasn't eating much. Then he started to complain that his hand was still hurting, in fact it was REALLY hurting. He said it was hurting so much that he didn't feel like eating. (That's VERY unusual coming from Jared.) So even this un-compassionate mother thought that maybe I should play the safe side and get it checked out. So we threw the remainder of our dinners in doggy bags and went to the doctor.

Jackson was entranced with his balloon from Red Robin so he screamed when he had to leave it in the car. We didn't have an appointment, so of course we had to wait. Jackson finally started to play happily with the toys in the waiting room when they called us in to the doctor's office. Jackson screamed at having to leave the toys. We took a toy with us for him, which he politely hurled across the room. After waiting yet longer, the doctor came in and ascertained that Jared's arm was indeed hurt. He sent us upstairs to get an x-ray. Jackson screamed again at having to move to yet another place. Luckily he found the elevator quite fascinating and was quiet-- until we had to exit the elevator, which provoked yet more screaming.

At the radiology lab we had to fill out paperwork, give insurance cards and sign forms yet again. I made the mistake of setting Jackson down to sign something. A few moments later I noticed he was gone. I excused myself, ran out of the room and by the time I caught him he was in the elevator with the doors starting to close. I grabbed him and came back to the waiting room. "Hmmm, you have your hands full," the lady at the desk sagely observed. (You think? I suppose she was looking at my pregnant belly and concluding that I must be some kind of glutton for punishment to be asking for more....) I finally finished the paperwork and was greeted by, "Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom." I collapsed in a chair and pointed the direction down the hall. Then my next child decided that they too had to go to the bathroom. I pointed them down the hall and waited.

I knew something was wrong when I heard a loud: "You're taking too long! Open up!!" followed by a scream and "It's your fault! You took too long!" I raced down the hall, dragging Jackson, to find one of my older children (I'm purposely not saying which one-- both of them are WAY too old to be wetting their pants. They probably hadn't gone potty since before park day.) standing in a puddle of pee, crying and yelling, "It's their fault! They took too long!" Luckily, this child was still wearing their swimsuit, so I told them to go in the bathroom and clean themselves off with paper towels. Back to the desk... "Um, one of my children had an accident. Do you have a janitor who can clean it up?" I probably should have offered to clean it myself, but visions of Jackson walking through the peepee and trying to ride the elevator while I cleaned convinced me that I should let it go.

More waiting. Jared had his x-ray. About this time I look at my watch and realize that the meeting at my house is going to start in 10 minutes. I call my friend on her cell phone and tell her I will probably be late and to just use the garage code to get in and start the meeting without me.

Back downstairs back to the main waiting room. Into the office and more waiting there. The doctor comes back and after examining the x-ray decides that Jared's hand is not broken, it is just sprained. We get a splint for it and some stickers and are off to the car.

I got home 30 minutes after the meeting started to find the meeting in progress (after stepping over the toys that never got picked up so I could get in the house), right next to the disastrously messy family room. Oh joy. Everyone gets to see my house au naturel, with no clean-up. Our babysitter had arrived and been sitting and waiting for half an hour. I gave her some directions and joined my meeting.

Some days just don't go like you plan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Perfect Days of Summer, Part II

After such a wonderful day of picking berries and enjoying the summer weather, I had convinced myself that truly, summer had begun... the golden days of eating berries, playing in the sprinklers, going to the park, enjoying your kids' company all day every day, non-stop fun and enjoyment. We even finished out the day by meeting up with Dave and Costco for dinner, browsing the store and driving home just in time to put the kids to bed.

The next day (Friday morning) I was awakened to find that my 6-year-old had wet the bed. This from my girl who has never wet the bed since she quit wearing diapers at age 3? Maybe I just have to attribute it to letting her get one extra refill of her drink before we left Costco. Wetting the bed wouldn't have been such a big deal except that for the past few nights she had been complaining that she didn't want to sleep alone in her room (because she was afraid of hot lava-- a pressing concern on the second story of the house) so she was sleeping on the empty bottom bunk in Jared's bedroom. Because that bed is not normally used, I had just thrown some sheets on and it did not have a mattress pad. Hooray. Oh joy.

In my enthusiasm to enjoy the delights of the summer from the previous day, I had bought tickets to go see a children's production of "Sleeping Beauty." Trying to overcome my irritation at lack of sleep and pee-pee mess at least we could look forward to going and doing something fun. I even, despite my tendency to always be late, started getting the kids into the car in the garage a full 30 minutes early! As we were walking to the car, Jared said, "What's that stuff dripping on the garage floor?" I thought maybe our car was leaking oil, but the fluid was red and coming from the freezer. It turns out that the freezer door had been left open since the afternoon before when I told the kids they could get themselves a popsicle. [Jared is reading over my shoulder and corrected me, saying that the door was open "A tiny bit. Just a crack."] Everything in the freezer had thawed, including bags of frozen raspberries and strawberries, which were streaming juice down the shelves of the freezer and on to the floor. Hooray. Oh joy.

So instead of being unusually early and having a stress-free ride to the play, I stuffed Jackson in his carseat (to keep him away from the mess) and crankily yelled for the older kids to get towels and help clean this up unless they wanted to be grounded for life. I spent the next 20 minutes carefully cleaning up the sticky juice from the freezer and then threw the kids in the car to race out the door to the play (which I had considered skipping as a punishment, but being stuck at home in the mood that I was in did not seem like a great idea). I was planning on taking the kids to Wendy's for lunch, but that seemed inappropriate after they ruined all the food in the freezer, so I packed some bread and butter, fruit leather and cheese sticks in my bag to eat after the play.

We made it into the play only a few minutes late and had a great time. Hooray! The kids enjoyed getting autographs from all the cast after the show. We then ate our lunch in the car and went to run errands that needed to be done. In the course of the afternoon shopping, the kids got incredibly cranky and fought the whole time (not surprising, considering their small lunch), Jackson missed his nap and would not go down once we got home, and we came home to a dirty house with a pee-peed mattress to clean up. Tired cranky mommy. Tired cranky kids. Hooray. Oh joy.

Is it just part of being a mom (or maybe just being pregnant) that your mood can go from "Life is wonderful!" to "My life is a disaster!" in a matter of hours? Or minutes? =]

The Perfect Days of Summer, Part I

After we got back from California, we had one day of beautiful weather ("I love it here! It's the most beautiful place in the world!") and then went into a week of cloudy gloominess... in July ("What kind of place is this? It's July, not January!"). I guess cold and gray weather is never out of the question here in the Northwest, but it still is a little bit depressing-- and unusual, even for here-- in the middle of the summer.

But, the weather finally cleared and we have since had beautifully sunny- even hot- weather. Last Thursday, I wanted to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, so I took the kids berry picking. One of the things I still can't get over here is how we have local farms and berry picking within a couple miles of our house. We picked raspberries first and then picked blueberries. Jared and Camryn really got into picking blueberries. We kept Jackson happy by giving him a blueberry or two whenever he got fussy. We all had a fabulous time and I finally had to tell them that we needed to go home. (At this point, I saw that one of the older kids had given Jackson some raspberries, which he had thoroughly enjoyed....)

After spending a beautiful afternoon gathering bucketfuls of berries, popping a sample or two in our mouths whenever we needed a pick-me-up, we went home and enjoyed the fruits of our labors. I thought, "These really are the perfect days of summer: the sun is shining, we're having fun together, we're enjoying the outdoors and the bounty of nature. Who needs to worry about the humdrum cares of life when you can just have a perfect day with your kids?" Happy sigh. We spent the evening picking out the perfect recipe for berry tarts and stuffing ourselves silly.

What I Chose...

Here's to being irresponsible. =]

Which Would You Choose?

On Wednesday it was Park Day at a nearby park with a great water feature. But... we had a completely messy house, laundry to fold, dishes to do, floor to sweep, stuff to be organized. What's a girl to do? Would you choose this:

Or this?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How To Be Late in 5 Easy Steps... (make that 28)

Why be early or on time when you could be late? I know, you say, "But being late is so hard! It takes real effort and planning! Perpetual tardiness is harder to achieve than you might think- especially with kids." But never fear... with a little bit of careful planning, you too can be fashionably late whenever the need arises! Here are a few easy steps that I recommend for you to follow if you want to join the ranks of those who are too organized to be on time.

(Note: This example given here is purely hypothetical. Any resemblance to any real persons or events is *strictly* coincidental. However, the principles used in this example can be applied to a multitude of situations. While the example here is going to the dentist, it can just as easily be applied to going to church, getting ready for school, etc.)

1. Go to bed too late the night before. To make this easier, try blogging or playing Scramble on facebook to pass the time.
2. Have your toddler wake up at 5:50 am with a wet bed.
3. Clean up the mess, change the toddler (who is now completely awake) and take him back to bed with you to try to get some more rest.
4. Get pummeled, poked and prodded by said toddler for 20 minutes while you vainly attempt to sleep.
5. Give toddler a milk cup to help him get sleepy and go back to bed.
6. Get poked, pulled and prodded for the next hour and a half before giving up on sleeping and just getting up for the day.
7. Put toddler in the high chair. Feed yourself and the toddler breakfast.
8. Doze on the couch while your toddler finishes his breakfasts, chucks raisins across the room and starts to yell, "Ma-ma!"
9. After yet again giving up on sleep, talk to mom on the phone while older kids eat breakfast and play Wii.
10. Go upstairs to take a shower. Check email and play Scramble instead.
11. Look for curtain options online.
12. Actually take shower and give yourself 3 razor cuts, one of them massive.
13. Spend 15 minutes trying to bandage the massive cut and get the bleeding to stop.
14. Yell for kids to turn off the Wii, get dressed and brush their teeth.
15. Get self dressed, put on make-up, pull wet hair into a ponytail.
16. Fill sippy cup with milk and stock diaper bag for toddler.
17. Change toddler's diaper and get him dressed.
18. Call girl to come get hair combed. Discover that she is wearing yesterday's clothes, spots and all. Comb her hair and yell for her to go change-- fast!!
19. Call for the kids to get their shoes on and go out to the car.
20. The toddler's car seat is out of the car and needs to be put back in. Go out to garage to install car seat.
21. The seats to the car are also out from hauling stuff on the weekend. Put the seats back in the car. Then install toddler car seat.
22. Go inside and grab bag of returns to make on the way home from the appointment.
23. Buckle toddler in car seat. Yell at older kids to come get in the car already.
24. Daughter is crying, "I can't find an outfit!" Go upstairs and dig through the unfolded clean clothes pile in the upstairs hallway. Throw clothes at her and run back downstairs.
25. Look for toddler's shoes. No matching pairs are to be found. Give up-- he can wear socks-- and go back to the car.
26. Make sure older kids are buckled and start to back car out of the garage.
27. Remember that you forgot the diaper bag. Stop the car and run back to the house to get it.
28. Get back in car and drive away.

See? It may look complicated, but with a little discipline and planning, you too can be late whenever you want to be.

Someone tagged me?

Someone tagged me?? I was tagged by my friend Sarah. So are you ready for some random stuff about me?

Here it is...

1. What is your current obsession?
Scramble on facebook and valiant attempts to eat healthy/all-natural punctuated by giving in to the convenience of fast food.

2. What do you hate the most that everyone else seems to love?
Sushi. I know it's chic and I even *want* to like it, but it just isn't my thing. I don't have a problem with raw fish, I've just never been able to enjoy the seaweed wrapper. It tastes like... well, seaweed.

3. What are you wearing today?
A pastel striped maternity shirt and jeans.

4. What's for dinner?
How am I supposed to know? It's only afternoon. Maybe brown rice with black beans and avocado... or maybe Papa Murphy's (see #1).

5. What would you eat for your last meal?
A gourmet cheese plate, a salad with blue cheese or goat cheese, grilled asparagus, filet mignon or ribeye steak with lobster, with creme brulee and a chocolate soufflee for dessert.

6. What is the last thing you bought?
A throw pillow.

7. What are you listening to right now?
The hum of my laptop. For being a "music person," I really love silence when the rare opportunity for it finds me.

8. What do you think of the person that tagged you?
She is beautiful, smart and fun to be around. A great runner and great mom.

9. If you could have a house--fully paid for and totally furnished--anywhere in the world, where would it be?
In Italy. Or Kauai. Or Tahiti. Or here in my town.

10. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be?
Assuming that I had babysitting? And instant transportation? Italy, London, Austria or Tahiti.

11. What is one of your hobbies?
Choral music. Or ballroom dancing. Or blogging. Or procrastinating housework.

12. What is ONE of your favorite quotes?
"If I had ever learned I should have been a great proficient." Lady Catherine de Bourgh in "Pride and Prejudice

13. What is your favorite color?
I hate choosing favorites (you would think that would be apparent by now). But if I had to pick, I would say the midnight blue-purple of the sky right after the sun has set.

14. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
Right now I am wearing maternity clothes... can you really have a favorite with clothes designed to cover your hugeness? My mom did make me a fantastic maternity formal for the Alaska cruise. Out of normal clothes, my brown shirt-- doesn't make me look as huge as the rest.

15. What is your dream job?
Concert pianist or opera singer (in theory, if not in practice) ... or directing my own choir. Or teaching piano to highly motivated students that always practice exactly what you tell them and come back thirsty for more. (ha ha)

16. Describe your personal style.
Mommy meets Ross but wishes it was Ann Taylor or Anthropologie.

17. What is your favorite tree?
White birch or japanese maple

18. What are you going to do after this?
Stop procrastinating my housework.

19. What is your favorite fruit?
What's with this picking favorites thing? Raspberries, peaches, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries. Did I mention that I'm not good at picking favorites?

20. What inspires you?
Great music. People who have overcome difficulties in their lives and still have a positive attitude. A really good project. A great book. Reading the scriptures and trying to apply them to my life.

21. Who was the last person that you kissed?
Baby Jackson

22. What are you currently reading?
The screen on my laptop. J/K. I am reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan (see #1 and #20)

23. Go to your bookshelf, take down the first book that you see with a red binding, turn to page 26 and type out the first line.
Do you really want to read some random line from some random book on my shelf? I didn't think so.

24. What delighted you the most today?
Jackson said, "Whez da-da?" (Where's daddy?)

25. By what criteria do you judge a person?
Definitely, by what kind of cheese they like (brie or american?). =] J/K... Probably by how they treat other people.

26. What was your childhood nickname?
Chicken Licken

27. What are you afraid of?
That my best won't be good enough. Or that when people find out what I'm *really* like they will go running for the hills. ;) Or that Dave will suddenly get called on a three-week business trip to Asia.

The rules:
1. Respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own.

2. Tag eight other people.
Do you really think there are eight other people that read my blog who haven't been tagged yet? Let's try: Greek Goddess, Rebecca M., Diane, Crystal, Ranell, Rebecca W., Chatterbox and Lara

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mini Golf Family Night

For Family Night on Monday while we were in California, Grandpa and I took the kids to Golfland for some mini golf. Jared and Camryn were quite enamored with the concept (although it took a few minutes to teach them to putt instead of swinging their clubs over their heads like they were playing Wii golf). Even Jackson was intrigued enough by watching us to sit happily in his stroller the entire time.

Miniature Golf, while something I find quite enjoyable, is not one of my talents. It ranks up with bowling and eyebrow maintenance as one of the activities for which I am doomed for eternal mediocrity. I once went bowling on a double date and tried to warn my companions that I was the world's worst bowler. I didn't add credence to my story by scoring a strike on my first bowl. By the end of the game, I managed to prove that my first bowl was pure luck, by scoring somewhere in the low 60s. The other girls' date was even making fun of how bad I was by the end. But I digress....

I was really worried at the beginning of the game that I was going to get trounced by my 7-year-old and 6-year-old who have only played once or twice. However, even though my dad got the best score and I may stink at mini-golf, at least I proved I am still good enough to beat completely inexperienced grade-schoolers... for now. =] I guess we all have to have our weaknesses.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What We Did Instead.... or San Francisco Sight-Seeing Plan C

Today's original plan was to go to the Exploratorium. As explained in the previous post, even after wading through heavy traffic to get there, that plan just didn't pan out. I guess free day in July is just an all-around bad idea. But we were already in San Francisco, so time for Plan B.

We decided to do some sight-seeing instead. We drove from the Marina district to Fisherman's Wharf/Ghirardelli Square. We wanted to go to the Maritime Museum or ride the cable cars, but I was kinda hoping to find parking that was less than $2.50 for every 20 minutes. (Alas, wishful thinking....)

We drove around for quite some time, but without any luck. After a while of this, the kids were bored and whining and (quite reasonably) disappointed in how fun our trip was turning out to be. So we decided to at least stop at Ghirardelli Square to get some chocolate and/or ice cream while we decided what to do next. At least there they validated parking. We walked through some of the shops, had some delicious chocolate samples and the kids had a ball chasing pigeons and plotting how best to catch them.

After our yummy chocolate samples (which Jackson smeared all over his face and fingers) and brief survey of the shops, I took the kids to the ice cream parlor to split a famous Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundae. We had gotten them on a previous trip to San Francisco and despite the touristy location and price, they were really yummy. Well I don't know if it was just that I was tired from driving around, that I was disappointed that both our original and back-up plans for the day weren't working out, the fact that they actually didn't validate parking unless you purchased more than $20 of stuff (and the last thing I needed after a week of cruise food was piles of chocolate or my own hot fudge sundae...), or that or that the single hot fudge sundae ended up costing $15 (between the $8 price, tax and parking), but it just wasn't as great as I remember it. At least not $15 bucks worth....

Luckily, the kids are much less picky than I am when it comes to both travel and cuisine. They loved the sundae, happily looked at the chocolate machine exhibits in the ice cream parlor and then asked if they could please go back outside to chase pigeons. Even Jackson didn't complain too much about being stuck in his stroller.

Jared and Camryn happily amused themselves chasing pigeons and trying to fish coins out of the mermaid fountain until I told them it was time to go. (Now if only we weren't paying $7.50 an hour in parking for the privilege of chasing pigeons!) I guess I should probably try to learn a lesson from my kids: sometimes you've just got to go with the flow and enjoy what you end up with instead of being frustrated with what didn't work out. Maybe that's part of "becoming like a child." And there's lots of fun to be had in pigeons, fountains and ice cream sundaes that are WAY too expensive. Especially when mom pays. ;)

Why We Didn't Go to the Exploratorium Today

I think the photos are self-explanatory. I guess I learned that trying to go to the San Francisco Exploratorium on a free day in July is a really stupid idea.

The line went out the front door...

Around the side of the building...

down more of the building...

...and beyond.

And this was after braving tons of San Francisco traffic to get there in the first place. Let's just say it wasn't our most successful sight-seeing day ever.