Thursday, August 30, 2007

Adding levity

Yesterday was Back to School night at Smunch's school. It was kind of fun to join everyone else in the school community and learn a little more about what the kids do. On the other hand, I was kind of blown away by just how busy they keep them. It made me a little tense about just how much is expected of these little guys. Then again, maybe I haven't been expecting enough of my firstborn.

The coup-de-grace of the evening was when Smunch's teacher told us that yesterday was the first day she'd really seen him smiling and laughing...and that he barely stuttered at all during that time. It was because they combined his class with the morning class yesterday and his buddy, Jay, is in the morning class. They were playing together.

But the lingering feeling I had from that conversation was that my child isn't happy enough. And in the back of my mind I see strangers putting the pieces together without any unhappy child who stutters must have a miserable home life and terrible, abusive parents. I'll have to indulge my paranoia a little bit there.

So, today, when the thermometer was up over 90 again, I decided to make sure we did something fun and unexpected. While Smunch was at school, I took Mam to the drug store and bought some squirt guns. I've never been a fan of squirt guns, just for the fact that they're guns, but I figure I've put it off long enough and these are really about the water, not about hurting people.

These weren't little puny water guns either. I bought two great big ones and an assortment of smaller ones...thanks to the 75% off sale at Rite Aid. I had a full arsenal.

I filled them up with water and put them in a bag before heading to pick Smunch up at school. Halfway there, I realized that taking any sort of guns near the kindergarten was probably a bad plan and I stashed them in a bush.

When I picked Smunch up, he told me he'd used the potty at school (this has been an issue) and asked if he could have a treat. Uh, sure. I left it over there across the street for you.

So, of course, he was looking for something the whole way back...and Mam had seen me stash the bag anyway. We had a terrific water fight all the way home...and it lasted for a good while after that too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Total Eclipse

If you're out here on the West Coast of the United States, you may know there was a full lunar eclipse this morning at 3:37am. My mom was always fascinated by stuff like this and she often woke us up to see cool celestial events. I wasn't actually crazy enough to set my alarm for the wee hours of the morning. My husband already thinks I'm insane. I didn't need to wake him up at some ridiculous hour just to prove least not by alarm clock.

Secretly, I told my brain to wake me up, just so I could see it. My brain isn't too bad at these things. I woke up at 3:40am. And I got up, waking husband in the process, to go take a peak at the moon. By that time, it was a faint brownish object in the sky. When I went to sleep, it had been lighting up in the entire yard, it was so bright.

I thought about waking Smunch up. You don't get to see these things all that often. I decided against it and got back in bed. But I got up again. I was too hot anyway and I wanted to see the part where the bright silver moon peaks itself out around the edge of the shadow again. That part is cool. I decided to see how easy it was to wake Smunch up. I bent down and said, "Smunchy, do you want to go see the moon?" He grunted. Sounds like 'yes' to me!

I woke him up a little more. He was game. I carried him out the front door into the driveway and pointed out the moon. "Oh, uh-huh." He talked a little, but I don't really remember what he said. I didn't realize until later that he hadn't stuttered once. I let him go in. He virtually ran back to his bed. "Goodnight, mom!"

Proof positive. Stuttering is all about the phase of the moon.


I don't really know what they were talking about when they told us at kindergarten orientation that they really don't give kindergarteners homework. Is that something they tell us because they know we're scared they'll be pushing our precious little children too hard? Do they know the whole idea of kindergarten is overwhelming to parents who haven't been there before and they figure the thought of homework just might kill us? It might, I suppose.

Last week, Smunch got his first two homework assignments. And they were definitely homework. I learned a lot from the first one though. He was supposed to go through magazines, papers, etc. find words he could "read" and cut them out and paste them. Considering that Smunch truly cannot read, he really does recognize a wide variety of words, especially when you add logos or a particular font to the letters.

A Little Bit of Nature

I'm doing a little more blog catch-up today. And nothing much to say about kindergarten. The monster that was Smunch after 3-1/2 hours at kindergarten has gone into hibernation for a bit, thankfully. He's happy when I pick him up. He really seems to be enjoying it.

On Saturday, the kids were playing out in the front yard. It's fairly enclosed and we have a really quiet street, so they get sort of minimal supervision out there. Mam came in saying that she'd found a baby squirrel. In fact, she and Smunch were collecting a pile of acorns for said squirrel.

I was making dinner and I usually suspect that they don't know what they're talking about, but a squirrel that doesn't just run away is sort of unusual, so I went out to check. They had indeed found a baby squirrel. It was hopping around on the lawn, looking fairly unconcerned about the commotion...or the acorns, which it was far too young to eat. It appeared to be trying to lick water of the blades of grass in the lawn.

After spending two years feeling orphaned squirrels at Wildlife Rescue, I didn't have a lot of fondness for the rascaly, squirmy critters with long teeth and claws, but this little guy really was kinda cute and I now know enough about rescuing wild animals that I felt comfortble picking him up and putting him in a box. We left him outside for a while to see if his mom would come back to get him. Nope. As far as I could tell, this squirrel just fell from the sky. There wasn't another of his species anywhere in sight.

So we worked on rehydrating him. He seemed healthy and fiesty. Not particularly friendly, but I figure that's a good sign. We kept him overnight and then drove him down to Wildlife Rescue on Sunday morning.

It was kind of a fun little adventure. I'd love to have been able to have him released at our house, but I've got a pretty good idea how the organization over there functions. They're undoubtedly overrun with orphaned squirrels right now. The one we submitted for care is better off with some squirrel buddies and with people who've got the right food and equipment to take care of him, but he's just another squirrel...just like he would've been hopping across our yard as an adult.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What a Circus!

Today, Daddy and I took Smunch and Mam to see their very first circus. And, as good parents, we took them not to just any circus, but to "The Greatest Show on Earth". For years now, I've been sort of tacitly opposed to the circus. I'm not a member of PETA or anything, but I prefer to see animals in something approaching their native habitat...and the big top seems a far cry from that. San Jose Mercury columnist Mike Cassidy summed up my own feelings about the circus excellently in his recent column on the circus. I feel grateful that someone out there feels much the way I do. Although honestly, I can see many animals as having human qualities and needing to be treated as such. After all, I'd argue that my kids are animals. In fact, for most of today, they've been quite beastly. In that state, I'm not sure if they are really treated better than circus elephants.

But I digress.

Although they were obnoxious, the kids couldn't wait to go to the circus. I'm not sure what they expected, but it was going to be exciting. The circus has changed a lot since I was a kid. Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey performed today at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. No big top, no straw, no dirt. I didn't even see any popcorn. We had cushy seats in the 10th row with tickets that looked like they'd been printed by TicketMaster. But it was quite a spectacle with lights, loud music and a terrific singing ringmaster.

They had some pre-show entertainment where you could go down on the floor and watch some of the performers from a safe distance. Mam, up on my shoulders, seemed fairly non-plussed by the whole thing.

They had free clown noses for everyone. And thank goodness because nothing else was even close to free. We didn't bother with a program at $15 a pop. It looked like most of the souvenirs were in the $10-$20 range. Didn't bother with those either. A clown nose seems like a perfect souvenir! After all, the tickets weren't free either.

Smunch loved the circus. He gasped and cheered at all the right places. He was enthusiastic and riveted. It was fun to see. He said his favorite act was the one with the little dogs who jumped over people.

Mam, well, I'm not really sure she was thrilled with the spectacle. Mam quotes of the day were:

"When is it time to go home?"
"We've been watching this for hours!"
"But we only saw a show!" (while resisting being led from the building after the show)

I think the only thing that really impressed her was when they shot confetti at the crowd, which she dutifully picked up and stuffed in the pockets of her dress (because she must have pockets at all times, just in case an opportunity like this comes up) during intermission.

The elephants and tigers did some impressive work. But I couldn't help feeling that they really didn't belong there. The tigers, in particular, seemed unhappy. I don't know what a happy tiger would look like exactly, but they certainly didn't delight in performing. They peed on the floor a lot. At best, I think that's got to be a sign of distain.

But there were acrobats and contortionists, lots of clowns, the "wheel of steel", the cute dog act and even a couple of human cannon balls. It was fun, it was colorful and if it hadn't been necessary to buy food, I would have said it was worth the money.

I couldn't help being a little relieved when neither kid said the elephants or the tigers were their favorite act. And when we were faced with the demonstrators from PETA on the way out the door shouting, "Make this the last time you go to the circus!", I didn't take one of their flyers. But a tiny little voice in my head said, "Yeah, O.K., maybe I will." After all, I can always shell out even more money for Cirque du Soleil, right?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kindergarten continued

Don't be alarmed. I have no intention of changing my blog into a day-by-day account of my child's adventures in kindergarten, but it seemed like some things bore mentioning here, now that Smunch is in his third day of kindergarten.

In a lot of ways, I'm realizing that this is my summer. The contract for my most reliable employer lapsed at the end of July. Yeah, they're renewing it, but they're being slow about it. (Thank you!) That means I don't have any work to do and since the level of babysitting I was getting is falling off rapidly, that's a good thing.

On the downside, Mam doesn't start school until after Labor Day. Well, that's not a downside really, but I've suddenly realized that I don't have a clue what to do with her all by herself. She's sitting here grinning at me like a Cheshire cat, as if to say "I'm so freakin' cute and you never had time to notice" or "I'm a complete nut job and you never noticed before." I'm not sure which.

Regardless, it's oddly relaxing to come home with no real agenda at all. Yesterday's agenda was laundry. Laundry almost never makes "the agenda" normally. It's sort of an aside to the real agenda, if it gets done at all.

Smunch still says he likes kindergarten, although I asked him who his favorite teacher was and he named the teacher who is technically an aide in his class. Not sure why. On the flip side, I am completely overwhelmed by kindergarten. And it has nothing to do with Smunch. The sheer volume of things to donate to, fundraisers, PTA, classroom volunteering, ice cream social, family picnic, walk-a-thon, phone-a-thon, "spirit wear" orders...and the list goes on and on. Tonight, they'll get their first homework. And so it begins. I'm completely paralyzed. Anyone want some cookie dough? Wrapping paper? Prefab pretzels? No?

I always wanted to be an involved parent at school, but I feel like I'm swimming in a vast sea of unfamiliarity here. And an old feeling is coming back...a feeling I haven't had since I was in school. It's that feeling of interminable school. It just stretches out in front of you forever and ever when you're little. I feel that. And it's so different from anything I felt with Smunch in preschool. Preschool was fun. This is serious business.

A friend of mine said that preschool is like a gentle stream compared to the rushing river of kindergarten. She couldn't have made a more apt comparison. I wonder if I've been swept away and I don't even know it yet!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Interview with a Kindergartener

...a somewhat dysfluent kindergartener, but as I mentioned, this is actually a vast improvement over where he was just hours before going to kindergarten. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Smunch's very first day of Kindergarten. I'm pleased to report that we all held up pretty well. Daddy and I walked him the entire oh...five minutes to school, where we waited for the morning kindergarten kids to be reunited with their anxious parents before we could enter the playgound. We took some of the obligatory photos while waiting...

Smunch in front of the school sign.

Smunch waiting with his over-caffeinated, slightly anxious, but dry-eyed mommy.

Smunch peering into his new classroom to see if he could see his assigned seat. He couldn't, but he thought the classroom was pretty neat.

And finally the teacher rang the bell and they had all the kids line up to go into the classroom. Naturally, there was a lot of milling around and uncertainty. Smunch looked a little concerned. I suspect he knew we were going to leave and he wasn't quite sure if that was O.K. or not, but he didn't cry. And neither did I.

And then they were into their classroom. It all went so smoothly that I wasn't really concerned about him. I happily spent my time paying a babysitter to chat with me and shopping at Trader Joe' myself!

I picked Smunch up just after 3 o'clock. We'd seen one of his pals in the morning class leave in tears, so I was a little worried that he'd lose it when he saw me. But he was happy! He was happy to see me, but he'd had a great time at school. I'm truly thrilled.

I mean, don't get me wrong.I'm still a little anxious about how this year is going to go for him, but the great start makes me really optimistic about it. Hopefully, YouTube will get its site back online and I'll be able to post some of Smuch's thoughts about his first day of school too.

Interestingly, Smunch was also more relaxed and his speech was more fluent tonight than it's been in a long time. Tomorrow, of course, will be the true that he knows exactly what to expect when I drop him off!

Monday, August 20, 2007


By that title, I mean 2 days pre-K. Smunch starts kindergarten in just two days. Today, we went to the kindergarten's "lemonade social". We had taken a peek in his kindergarten room over the weekend, but today gave Smunch and me a chance to meet his teacher for the year. He also got a school water bottle and a cute little apple-shaped name tag that I'm supposed to remember to stick on him before his first day of school on Wednesday.

His teacher, Ms. Britton, seems nice. She seemed teacherly...if that's a word. She was sweet and enthusiastic to meet us. I liked that.

I was actually feeling pretty O.K. about the whole thing until I saw a little girl who was born around the same time as Gavin. She was discharged from the NICU the same day Gavin was born and admitted. I think it just reminded me how far he's had to come. And today's speech therapy appointment reminded me just how far he has to go to be on par with his classmates. Yeah, it kinda freaks me out.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can make it out of the play yard before the tears come on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Heading home

Nothing very fun about saying 'goodbye until Thanksgiving'. By then, my little nephew will doubtlessly be running around like a fiend. Despite the long drive to get there, I hope we'll always manage to visit AK's family during the summer!

If life was a beach...

our family would always be as happy and relaxed as we are when we visit Torrey Pines State Beach with AK and her family. I don't know why we always leave beach-going to the last day of our trip. We all have such a good time that I usually wind up wishing we could do it again...rather than packing everyone back up in the car and driving a bazillion hours back home.

Smunch loved playing in the water and the sand, but got a little nervous about the waves. He mostly just puttered around in the surf, but was happy that way.

In characteristic fashion, Mam was completely fearless, asking over and over to go back in the water and play in the waves with Daddy. But she also had a grand time playing with her cousin in the sand.

Spencer, by the way, easily takes after his younger cousin, with no fear whatsoever about the water. And he had a grand time crawling around in the surf with his uncle.

As a highlight of our trip to the beach, we were visited by a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins who swam by, maybe 50 yards off the shore. I missed the one that jumped out of the water, but we had a great view of them out there. So cool to see something out in the ocean that you normally just see at Sea World...especially on a trip where you didn't even got to Sea World!

Encouraging your child to walk

A while back, Preemie Magazine asked me if I'd like to write an article about how to encourage your preemie to walk. I said, "Uh, not really." I guess I just believe all kids walk when they're ready, preemie or not. And if there are bigger problems, it's going to take more than a really short magazine article to solve it, you need a professional...or, maybe just a couple of older cousins.

Smunch and Mam were more than happy to trying aiding their cousin, Spencer, in the walking department. He hasn't been in a hurry about walking, but he's a speedy little crawler. We had a great time watching him trying walking on his own, especially after his well-meaning cousins were asleep...or at least in bed...sleeping wasn't a high priority on our trip.

Anyway, Spencer was having a grand ol' time learning to walk. And, really, what's cuter than an adorable little boy reveling in doing something new?

If the kids say so, it was fun

With the necessity of spending some time with my parents in San Diego, we ended up packing all our "big" trips into just three days. On Monday, we took the obligatory trip-to-a-big-amusement-park. San Diego is littered with them, so it's almost required to visit at least one every year. And by the time we've gone through all of them, I imagine the kids will be ready to go back to the first one again.

This year, it was Legoland. We decided to go on Monday to avoid the weekend crowd. After we got back, one of AK's neighbors, who has season passes and was also there that day as well as on Sunday, said she'd never seen the park as crowded as it was on Monday. Go figure.

The kids were so thrilled to be at Legoland...because they'd heard about it from friends numerous times...that they didn't seem to notice that we waited two hours to go on one ride. One ride that lasted maybe 10 minutes...tops. At least Legoland is set up for this kind of catastrophe. They have a play area where the kids can go play with legos while their parents suffer the ridiculous lines.

It's not fun, but it's not nearly as miserable as it could be.

And before you ask, I haven't got the slightest idea why we decided it would be a good idea to wait in such a line. It looked like a fun ride. And it was a fun ride, but not nearly fun enough to make up for the agony of waiting.

We'd actually started our visit with a much shorter wait for a little boat ride that Smunch insisted he didn't want to go on...probably because we'd refused to let him play archaeologist in the dinosaur pit we saw as we came in. I figured we'd be stuck there all day if we caved. Obviously, the ride was O.K. with him once we were there.

And that...that was it for rides. We had lunch and we went to the water park section. Legoland's water park is awesome! It has this big "pirate's ship" with giant buckets mounted on the top that tip over periodically, drenching everyone underneath. It also has a couple of seriously low-key waterslides. All-in-all, that part was a little much for the kids. They went down the water slides several times...after Daddy gave up on staying dry, discarded his shirt and got in there with them, jeans and all.

They spent the rest of the time in the area made especially for little kids. Smunch largely camped out under the little, tiny bucket there, waiting for it to pour on him and running over to us with a silly grin on his face everytime he succeeded in getting dumped on.

After playing in the water for an hour or so, it was time to get going. We took the long route, through the city...

No, not that city! We're in San Diego, remember. But this is what San Francisco looks like made entirely out of legos. You'll have to use your imagination to envision New York, New Orleans and Las Vegas.

The kids claimed they had a fantastic time at Legoland. I don't know that Daddy and I really had all that much fun, but you know, it doesn't really matter, does it?

Dinosaur bones and organs

Somewhere around on the web, I'd seen some photos from San Diego's Natural History Museum and noticed they've got a permanent exhibit of dinosaurs and dinosaur fossils. Now that Smunch is 5.5, I thought he might really enjoy seeing some life-sized dinosaurs and bones and such. Naturally, I was wrong.

I decided Daddy would be happier going off on his own to re-tour the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego harbor. Smunch didn't want to go with him again and I had designs on going to see the dinosaurs. So, AK and I packed up all three kids and headed to Balboa Park, which houses most of San Diego's museums, as far as I can tell.

Getting into the Natural History Museum is a little onerous right now because they also have a very popular exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls, for which there is a ton of security...and a big extra fee upon admission. We skipped the Dead Sea Scrolls in favor of bones and fossils.

The kids didn't have a bad time, but Smunch wasn't anywhere near as impressed as I'd expected him to be by the big skeltons and models, the sabre toothed cats and giant sloths. It just wasn't that neat, I guess. Or maybe he's just not a dinosaur kind of guy. He did think this giant shark was pretty interesting, but the fascination pretty much stopped there unless there were knobs to be turned or buttons to be pushed.

We went to a little class run by Ms. Frizzle from the Magic Schoolbus. That was kind of fun. Just as well Daddy wasn't there since it was a whole class about spiders. The kids, aside from Spencer, were entertained. Spencer was bored and now that he's super mobile, he didn't have any patience for sitting in a lap or a stroller.

We rounded out our afternoon with a visit to Balboa Park's giant pipe organ.

There was an afternoon concert, so we watched the end of that. That was O.K. with the kids too and at least Spencer could crawl around on the hot concrete. Ouch! He didn't really seem to mind.

We headed home. My greatest regret about the day was that Daddy felt like he needed to be back when we were. To play it safe, he actually arrived an entire hour before we got home. (Our homecoming was mis-advertised, as usual.) He'd had a great time seeing the Midway on his own. He seriously needs to get out by himself more!

One vacation and a wedding

It's been a while. Because we went on vacation. And now that we're back from vacation, I've got a lousy cold that has my whole head stuffed up. I'm not sure why I'm the only person in my family who gets raging colds. Everyone else is pretty much over it already. Me, I feel like my head it full of Play Doh.

Anyhoo, our vacation started with what might be considering an ill omen...the necessity to use the jumper cables on the mommymobile to get it started. Yeah, this was a driving kind of vacation, so a functioning mommymobile was pretty much a necessity. It was all packed, the kids were strapped in, Daddy had backed it into the driveway so I could do some final loading from the fridge in the garage. Then it wouldn't start. Nice.

Still, after that, and having to turn around and go home from a few blocks away to retrieve our Starbucks mugs that we left at home. (As if they're any less important than a functioning mommymobile) we were on our way. It's a long drive from here to A.K.'s house in San Diego...a good 7 hours according to Google Maps. But then, Google Maps don't know anything much about potty breaks, lunch breaks and whiney child breaks.

The drive went stunningly well, all things considered. We stopped for lunch at our favorite halfway-to-San Diego spot, a little historic site called Fort Tejon, just before starting up the Grapevine in earnest. This place would be a beautiful haven of a picnic spot if it weren't for the very loud roar of Interstate 5 right outside the gate. It was a nice, relaxing lunch. There were some deer around. They have clean toilets. Some birds had kindly dropped feathers for Mam to collect. All the important stuff.

We arrived around dinnertime and had dinner with AK, her family and my parents, who were also in San Diego because we'd all been invited to the wedding of a family friend. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided it would be a great idea to arrange our visit around said wedding. It was a lovely affair, but lovely affairs aren't really the place to have to entertain small children.

Fortunately, the bride's mother was thoughtful enough to set up a table with coloring supplies for the kids (ours weren't the only ones). The ceremony was short and sweet...and it really was sweet, with one of my oldest friends giving an excellent, heartfelt speech during the ceremony as the sister of the bride. And the bride, well, she might've waited 'til 34 to get married, but she looked so stunning that I even heard my hard-to-impress husband gasp just a little. Smunch made her a card at the coloring table and presented it to her at dinner.

The wedding site also plays home to a bunch of rescued barnyard animals, so the hosts put out carrots for the kids to feed the goats and pigs. Mam was enthralled. And really, there isn't anything quite like a precious little girl in her wedding-best feeding carrots to goats. Mam is so fearless that she had a similar happy experience with a rhinoceros last year. Goats were nothing.

Naturally, cake couldn't come too soon as far as the kids were concerned, but they waited impatiently without diving into the four lovely cakes displayed on a table...even with accompanying cupcakes. We did a little dancing. It's a whole lot more fun with kids than it is with a spouse. It's not like you have to pretend to be dignified or to know what you're doing. It's just a lot of wiggling and laughing.

It was a lot of work, but we had a pretty good time and at least one of the kids mercifully fell asleep on the way back to San Diego. The other wasn't far behind when we got home.

Our entire San Diego trip would make for one huge post, so I'll hit the highlights in the following posts...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I don't think too many people think my kids don't look like siblings. They both have brown hair (although Mam's is much lighter) and big, big blue eyes. I've been asked several times whether they're twins and people look a little surprised when I say they're a full two years apart. Smunch is, and always has been, on the small side. Mam isn't huge either, but she's pretty average. She's taller than average, but also weighs less than average.

Like many little sisters, Mam worships her brother. She absolutely loves him. And although Smunch clearly regards her as a pest, I think he's pretty crazy about his little sister too. I've also gotten a lot of comments about how well they play together. Of course, they're not *always* happy to see each other and they don't always play nice. I think they're probably buddies just because they're both a little weird and each one may be the only person in the world who understands the other just a little bit. So, they have an understanding of sorts.

All in all, that's where the similarity ends. Because although they like to play a lot of the same games and are interested in similar things, their personalities are not at all alike. Nowhere is this more evident than in the swim lessons they share with each other.

Smunch is a sweet, timid, sometimes anxious little boy with a mean, mean stutter that sometimes refuses to let go of his tongue. Aside from that, he's got a mercurial temper and when he's pissed, I usually just want to go lock him in a closet...for hours. At 5.5, he's still got a little bit of separation anxiety, although nothing like when he was 2. He still doesn't want to go anywhere by himself...even if it's just to walk over to someone three feet away and ask that person a question. Interestingly, questions are his specialty. A very large portion of his ever-so-dysfluent speech is made up of things starting in "Why" and "What." Everything must have a reason. I think he's good at hiding his fears. Swimming really puts him out there, obviously.

I know this doesn't look impressive. The impressive part of it was that I know he's terrified of jumping in the water, but he asked the teacher to let him do this. He wouldn't stand up to jump, but he jumped. Brave boy.

On the other hand (often literally), we have Mam. And, yes, she's just about as troublesome as she looks in this picture. I doubt there's a sweeter little girl in the whole wide world. But I doubt there's one more stubborn either. At 3.5, her stubborness has led her to be quite an accomplished liar as well.

Me: Are your pants dry?
Mam: Yes.
Me: Are you sure?
Mam: Yes!

Of course, they're absolutely soaked. She's also become a pro at manipulating any situation involving her brother such that she looks like the innocent victim. Apart from being oh-so-sweet and stubborn as a pig-headed mule, she's also completely fearless. This particular gem in her personality has led to more than a few stitches already, but it can also be a lot of fun to watch. She dives into most things much like she jumps into the swimming pool. No holds barred. No thoughts of self-preservation, but enjoying each millisecond to the fullest.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It's all at the fun, fun fair!

By all accounts, the Santa Clara County Fair is on its last legs. Just this morning, a columnist in the San Jose Mercury recommended going to the fair to satisfy your sense of nostalgia, but to say goodbye to it on your way out. Turns out the county sunk a good deal of money into revamping the fairground in the past year and they're looking for the fair to break even this year. Based on what the columnist saw, he said it's not likely they'll break even. They might not even come close.

So, today, for the first and maybe the last time, I took the kids to the county fair. We had a great time, although the crowd, if one could call it that, was pretty unimpressive. No lines for anything. The kids were thrilled by the rides...just watching them, not necessarily riding on them. They weren't so sure about most of them. I got Smunch excited about going on the little roller coaster. From what I could tell, he and Mam both loved the roller coaster, but it wasn't as though they were clambering to get back on!

Both kids had a great time in the 4H petting pen. Gavin asked to hold a hen, while Mam, of course, wanted to hold a bunny. We had lunch while watching alpine goat judging. We puttered around the other pens of 4H animals while Mam exclaimed things like "I like that pig!" "I like that cow!" She liked everything, which is becoming a theme for our Mam. It seems like she's perpetually long as it doesn't involve a potty.

We rounded out the day with some funnel cake (which didn't go over all that well), some performing pigs (which reminded me of an extended 'Stupid Pet Tricks' segment on Letterman) and a terrific sea lion show.

I wasn't thrilled when our Friday babysitter quit a couple of weeks ago, but we've had an awful lot of fun instead. I have a feeling she did us all a favor!