Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Marine Memorial Day

Since Daddy was in serious need of working on Memorial Day, I decided to take Smunch up on his request for a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We took Mam too, of course. It wasn't a huge mistake, but I'd errantly envisioned the same kind of happy day we'd spent at Happy Hollow. I was...uh...wrong. Mam was still whiney and snotty and Smunch was still belligerent. He was thrilled to be going to the aquarium. He'd never been there before, but he'd heard about it from friends. Unfortunately, the anticipation of the visit was more exciting than the aquarium itself.

There were a few highlights though. The first tank of jellyfish was pretty cool. They weren't so interesting after the first several tanks, but they were cool for a bit. One of the kids' favorite things had very little to do with fish at all. There is a clear, glass tunnel that was supposed to give the impression that you were in a tidepool, with waves splashing over you every minute or so. So, you stand in there and *whoosh*, a giant wave of water goes over the top of you. Cool. And it got the kids away from the whining and crying they were doing while looking at the penguins and playing in the kiddie area.

After three hours of struggling to keep the kids on a short leash in the aquarium, the place was absolutely packed and we finally left to go check out the beach. I don't know why I didn't make myself leave sooner! We didn't even pay to get into the aquarium because I used my parents' guest passes. I didn't need to torture myself, or my poor semi-bored, semi-overwhelmed children. Oh well. We meant to go down to Point Lobos, but it was already getting a little late for that, with a long drive home ahead of us. So, we drove down the coast a ways to a place where Smunch saw waves hitting a big cluster of rocks and making giant splashes. It had turned into a beautiful Monterey day, even if it was windy.We all trudged down the beach and picked our way, carefully across the rocks as the tide was going out.
We had a grand time sitting on top of the big jumble of rocks, watching crabs skitter by and Smunch and Mam screeching in delight (and almost giving Mommy a heart attack by jumping up and down in excitement while perched atop the rocky outcropping) as the waves splashed up against the rocks and showered them with water.

So, what started as a day with potential and turned into a lesson in the frustrations of going to a crowded tourist attraction on a holiday, finally turned into a pretty great memory of two little kids having a fantastic time gazing out at the sea. Possibly my favorite quote of the whole thing came from Mam who got to the top of the rocks and declared, "I can see the whole ocean!"

Walking back to the mommymobile, I couldn't keep the kids from walking on the ice plant, but it made for a pretty picture at the beach...and solidified it as a fine day after all.

The More Dirt, the More Fun

I'm doing things a little out of order here. I can't seem to manage to write things as they happen. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we were a busy little family. Mostly, my husband and I were busy *working*. He's got some big presentation to Steve Jobs in a few weeks...with several hurdles to clear before that presentation. And I, lacking good reliable babysitting, had a lot left over work from the week. I can't wait to have a reasonable work schedule again, especially now that my consulting business is about as busy as I want it to be at this point. Still, we managed to have a couple of fun outings.

Sunday, we were invited to a family picnic at a sorta-local park. The kids had a great time. They've got some fun climbing structures made out of rope with a rope bridge connecting them. Mam was really, really proud of herself for getting from one end to the other.
Smunch is big enough that it was fairly easy for him, but he was still pretty tentative on the bridge. These first photos were taken just after we got there, so the kids were still reasonably happy. But Mam's been super whiney lately and finally broke into a runny nose. And Smuch...well...despite a sudden improvement in his speech, his behavior didn't really follow.
Things went rapidly downhill (from a parental standpoint) from here. Daddy usually keeps tabs on the kids when we go to family picnics while I fulfill the social butterfly role. This time, neither of us did a good job of keeping track of the kids. Before we knew it, the kids were playing in the fine, fine dusty dirt under a boardwalk. I went to get them for lunch. Mam had wet her pants already. It wasn't until we tried to go home that Daddy found out that Smunch had also had an accident...necessitating a trip home in a makeshift diaper. Fortunately, I bring spare clothes for Mam. Even more fortunately, she fell fast asleep on the way home!

'Piders in the Bathtub

Most nights, I end up sitting in Mam's room until she falls asleep. I just sit there and read my book in the rocking chair. Oftentimes, Mam chatters up a storm while I sit there. Last night's performance was particularly entertaining...at least for me. It went something like this:

Mam: Mommy?
Me: Yes, Mam. (slightly impatiently, since she's not supposed to be talking)
Mam: You nice to 'piders.
Me: Uh (trying not to laugh) thanks, Mam.
Mam: You find it in the bathtub. You no kill it. You put it in a cup. You take him outside. That's his home. You nice to 'piders, Mommy.

Clearly I'm making the world a better place with each spider saved from the drain in the bathtub...oh...and by creating a little girl with an appreciation for such things!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pet Parade?

Or was it a preschooler parade? And what exactly would the difference be? The preschoolers could have used some leashes...and some wagons to travel in too, just like the tortoises that people brought out for the event. Although tortoises might have made the route on foot faster than our Mam did.

Today was the Los Altos 60th (yes, 60!) Annual Pet Parade. I used to march in this parade when I was a kid. I took my dog. These days, actually having a pet doesn't seem to be a requirement. Every preschool and elementary school in the city seemed to have a contingent there. And those contingents were markedly light on pets. And Smunch wasn't really sure about the whole thing...except that he was sure he didn't want to walk down Main Street and up State Street on his own two feet, so Daddy got Smunch-toting duty. (Poor Daddy's shoulders!) Mommy got Mam toting duties for a while as well.

The best part of the whole thing, as far as Mam was concerned, was that she got to meet some new canines. Mam loves dogs and this one was one of her very favorites...an Australian shepard with a fondness for licking little girls who squeal with delight. Mam was thrilled. She also tried to pilfer someone else's beautiful white retriever-type dog on the way back to the car, but with no success.
My favorite entry in the parade was the Daschund Delegation. Daschunds are always funny, no matter what they're up to. So, the Pet Parade was far from devoid of pets, really. Pets spotted today included a parrots, rats, lizards, cats, dogs, ponies, horses, hamsters, goldfish, snakes, tortoises and a couple of chickens. It's pretty surprising what kinds of animals can be dragged along a parade route.
Mam complained a lot about her legs along the way. Poor little girl. It wasn't until we got home that I figured out she had her panties on sideways! "Daddy did it!" she repeated over and over as she sat on the potty and I righted her undies. As the English would say, "O.K., O.K., don't get your knickers in a twist!"

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy and Not at All Hollow

Smunch didn't have school today because the church that houses his preschool has a big rummage sale at this time of year and they deem it necessary to *close* the school for this event. I won't go into my opinion of "rummage sale day" being a school holiday. Suffice to say, he had the day off and I had some free tickets to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. The weather was beautiful and I've been working a lot, so it seemed high time to get out with the kids to do something relaxing and fun. We had a great time.

I learned some things too. There's a lot of freedom in doing something like this by myself, without a friend and more kids. My kids get to do whatever they want, provided they can agree with each other. We can have lunch or treats whenever we want without worrying what someone else would like to do and we can leave at the first sign of a meltdown...or at least shortly thereafter (oops).

I haven't gotten in one of those photo booths since high school, but after a fun day at the park, it seemed like just the right thing to commemorate a really fun day.

Speaking of commemorating things, here (on the left) is a photo of Smunch during his first visit to Happy Hollow in May 2003. He was just about 15 months old and we were there celebrating his discharge from the NICU a year earlier. On the right is Smunch, riding the same snail today...almost exactly 4 years later. I don't imagine he'll want to go to Happy Hollow anymore in another 4 years. I guess I should get as much mileage out of this as I can before he outgrows the pink and blue snail!

Stealing third and shameless flower photos

It's been a while. That's one of those downsides of being a writer for a living. I spend so much darned time writing for money, that I lose the enthusiasm for writing for fun. And honestly, it's not like there was nothing to write about either. My favorite of the stories I failed to blog in the last few weeks was about Smunch's T-ball game against the Rock Hounds. This was supposed to be a post called "Stealing Third".

Understand, of course, that 5-year-olds don't really know a whole lot about playing T-ball, so the games are always sort of a free-for-all of balls, bats, helmets, gloves and small, speeding children. Smunch had already hit and was on base (This is no signficant feat considering that all the kids get to hit until they hit the ball and then they automatically get to run to first. There are no outs.)

Also understand that moms who watch T-ball are only paying attention sporadically. I'm often commenting to a friend, fending off a comment from my mother, or taking Mam and her Sarah to the bathroom...together...again. So, I look up as Gavin is running from third base towards home plate. Something looks strange. He's running with one hand shoved up is shirt and I'm wondering what the heck is wrong.

As he crosses home plate, the hand comes out of the shirt...with half of third base. I guess the base was torn to begin with and Gavin thought he might as well take some of it with him!

Yeah. That's the whole story. Maybe you had to be there.

When I lamented recently that I hadn't updated my blog, a friend suggested I just put up some of my favorite recent pictures. This goes against my writerly brain in a big way...especially since the focus of my blog is funny stories about my kids. But, because I'm hopelessly in love with my house during the spring, I will now shamelessly post some of my favorite photos from the yard in the last month or so... tune in in a few minutes for more interesting, kid-related fare...

You can see a larger version of each of these if you click on them. I'm particularly fond of the pink rose after the rain and the snail on the purple iris. I'll bore you all with photos of our lovely un-ripe fruits next time I'm lacking for content.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

School photos are here!

Well, that sounds awfully exciting, doesn't it? I finally get to see the product of much screaming and crying on a morning a few weeks ago. It wasn't any trouble to get Mam into her sweet little purple dress, but that hair is always a battle. She wouldn't let me put it up that week. It was a "barette only" week. Mam gets to school at 9am. Pictures were scheduled for her class at 11:15. You can imagine just how much hope I held out for that measly little barrette. None.

And I was right to hold so little hope. The only reaction I have for this photo is something like. You want me to pay $31 for WHAT??? Tell me. Does she look like a giant dose of Miralax might help with her facial expression? Maybe. And it wasn't even a Miralax kind of day.

Nope. Can't find anything redeeming in this photo. The dress looks nice, I guess. I've never had to send back the entire packet of photos without purchasing a single one. There's a first time for everything.

Now, we recently got photos of Smunch too. He had photos taken for Little League. They took a whole bunch of shots. I had the impression they were going to put them online and let us pick the best pose, but I guess they did it for us because they arrived...the whole package of a single pose...with no digital announcement whatsoever.

He still looks like a pretty cute All-American kinda kid, but do you get the impression the photographer said, "O.K. everyone. Give us a really half-hearted 'Cheese!'" Fortunately, in this small format, you can't tell what awful teeth my poor kid has! The larger version is a little disheartening. I almost can't wait for his baby teeth to start falling out. The permanent ones are supposed to be fine.

Looks like you'll find us at Sears Portrait Studio this summer...with our fingers crossed for something...anything...better than this!