Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jiggity Jig

Home again! I am really glad Tom insisted we come back on a Saturday so we'd have a day to recover before jumping back into our routine. Last Sunday we did just that - sleep in, lounge around in pjs, catch up on Tivo, do our grocery shopping. I'm back on the meal-planning bandwagon, so I'm hoping I can stay organized and make things a little easier for myself. Also back on the exercise bandwagon, so I swam some laps in the afternoon.

Monday it was back to work for Tom and back to preschool for Soren. The lad was thrilled to get back to his class. So happy to see his teachers and friends, excited just to be back in his classroom. It's adorable. After school we went to A's house to visit and play. The boys were of course very happy to see each other, and even Eleri was jazzed to see A. (He, on the other hand, is not quite sure what to make of her, most of the time.) We visited for a few hours, then went home to make dinner. In the evening I ran & rowed (on the treadmill & rowing machine, respectively).

Tuesday I got my act together as far as getting all the vacation laundry (and some pre-vacation laundry) done & put away. Dishes, cleaning, general chores around the house. We ran a couple of errands & hit the library to replenish our supply of Signing Time DVDs for the kiddos. They sure do love their Signing Time...er...time...in the afternoons. After dinner I did some more lap swimming.

Wednesday! School and mall walk. Except that it was another gorgeous morning, so we walked at the park instead. Eleri was starting to come down with a little post-vacation cold (no doubt the result of trying to put the ENTIRE AIRPORT in her MOUTH), so we didn't play too long at the playground. After we picked up Soren, though, her nose seemed to have dried up quite a bit, so we stayed at the rec center playground where Soren played and played with A and another of their friends from the Zoom Around the Room class they took months and months ago. They had a good time. Eleri was wiped out afterward, so she took a nap while Soren & I made pizzas for dinner. When Tom got home, I went to the barn to go exercise Vanya for N. It was a weirdly foggy night, with big patches of mist hovering just above the ground. Made for kind of a neat and spooky drive out & home. N happened to also be out at the barn, tending to her other horse, and she was able to give me a neat exercise to work on with Vanya. I had a really nice ride. Yay!

Thursday I did more cleaning around the apartment while the kids chilled out with some Signing Time. Soren probably could have done with a bunch of gallivanting at the park, but Eleri was still not feeling so hot. Plus, she had been up for a while in the middle of the night, so she and I were both pretty tired. We finally made it out of the house late in the afternoon for a grocery run, but by evening, I was too whooped to exercise. Boo.

Friday I got some sad news. My great-aunt Julie had passed away overnight. Funny, brash, always ready with a wink and a story, she was in a class all by herself. Here she is at her 80th birthday party with her life-size Brett Favre cutout (she was ever the sports fan):


Hers was, at least, as peaceful a passing as you could hope for (in her sleep, happily ensconced in her favorite flannel doggie pajamas), after a long and very full life. I'll miss her, but I know she wouldn't want me to be too sad.

We ran some errands after picking Soren up from school on Friday. It started getting chilly this week, and I realized that most of Soren's long sleeved shirts are not exactly too small, but they don't really provide adequate coverage for the cooler temperatures. So we went shopping for some shirts in the next size up. We also picked up some things from the craft store to put the finishing touches on his Halloween costume. He wanted to be a pilot (of the airline variety), which was conveniently quite easy to put together. He already had the black slacks, white shirt, black tie from the suit we bought him last year (it still fits), and I picked up a pilot hat for him. All he needed were some epaulets for his shirt, so I got stuff to make them. They're the wrong color - traditionally the epaulets are black with yellow stripes, and his are going to be yellow with silver stripes - but I don't think anyone will notice or mind. ;) The best part is that all the talk of epaulets has implanted the word firmly into his vocabulary, and it's pretty hilarious to hear a 3 year old say, "Do you like my beautiful epaulets?" Hehehe.

In the evening I had my weekly riding lesson out at the other barn. Which made ride #2 for the week. And I got to go on a nice long trail ride with N again this morning (Sunday). Lots of horsing this week! Hurrah!

I don't have a ton to say about Saturday (I was a lazy bum for most of the day, though I did go out briefly in the afternoon to get my hair cut), but Tom did say that Soren was way more engaged in his soccer class this week. He played the whole time, whereas up til now he'd been getting bored about halfway through and just kind of dribbling the ball off by himself. I'm glad he seems to be enjoying the class. :)
One last thing and then I swear I'm done (because, holy crap, it is late and I need to go to bed!). November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Basically, if you decide to take on the challenge, you're supposed to write X number of words/pages every single day, and at the end of the month - bam! - you have a novel. I've been completely intrigued by this idea for several years now and would someday like to do it but, alas, I fear I have too many irons in the fire this month, what with trying to get Eleri's Christmas stocking finished, plus some other projects that I'll be writing about later. But! I'm going to embrace the spirit of NaNoWriMo and try (very hard) to make a point of blogging every day in November, even if it's just a sentence or two, in an attempt to get myself back into the routine of writing here way more regularly than I've managed these past few months. So you can (hopefully!) look forward to that. :)

All right! To bed. Have a good night, all.

Vacation Blogging (Part 3)

Hi! We've been back home for over a week now. Have you checked out the pictures I've been posting to Flickr? Because if not, you should do that. There are lots of good ones. I am a bit more than halfway done with getting everything processed and uploaded.

So, when we left off, it was Monday evening in Grants Pass. Tuesday was our last day there. We made our way to Tom's parents' house after breakfast. Grandma had the day off work, so she got another full day with the kiddos. Tom's parents have a big German Shepard (Cheeba) and three little dogs (Brindle, Scooter & Franklin). The little dogs spend a lot of the day outside, but when they came in for dinner, Scooter made his way over to where the kids & I were sitting. Eleri was fascinated by Scooter, pointing excitedly at his "tails" (his ears, actually), and exclaiming, "Hi Gooster!" She wanted desperately to give him hugs, but he was not as enthusiastic about receiving them as Leo is. It was quite the silly little scene. In the early afternoon, Tom & I took turns going out to get some exercise (he went jogging through the neighborhood around the library, I went back to the hotel & ran on the treadmill), and in the later afternoon we all went back over to Riverside Park to play some more. We rounded out the day by picking up some pizzas and going over to Tom's sister's house for dinner so the cousins could visit and spend a little more time together.

Wednesday morning, we packed up and headed northward. Eleri, who can be a champion car sleeper under the right conditions, was passed out before we reached Canyonville. First stop was Eugene, to visit Tom's other sister. She has a very sweet dog, Pearl, whom Eleri also tried to call "Gooster" at first. We hung out a bit and then got some lunch (tasty burgers...it was kind of a burgerrific vacation). Then we were off again, onward to Corvallis to visit with the Cachews and get some quality running-around time in for the wee weasels. M & B's little one is adorable and had the best time at the park, riding on the swings with her daddy. Her delighted little giggles were super cute. Too soon, it was time to move on, north to my parents' house in Tualatin. Dinner, little bit of visiting & playing, bedtime. I'm always a little amazed how exhausting it is to travel. Just sitting in a car for much of the day wouldn't be that draining, you'd think, but it somehow is. Go figure.

Thursday I got some quality girl time with FarmerMegan (sushi lunch, home for a bit, then back out to go shopping), while Tom, Mom & Yaya played with the kids. My dad took - and passed! - his licensing exam to become a pharmacy tech, which was fantastic. In the evening, my parents fed & hung out with the kids while Tom, Megan & I went out for dinner. It's nice to have some grownup time with your friends. :)

Friday we would get a fair bit more grownup time. In the morning, Megan, Tom, Dad & I went over to Threat Dynamics shooting range, where we met up with Marcy. Threat Dynamics (for those who don't want to bother clicking the link) is a different sort of shooting range. They use modified Glock pistols that "shoot" compressed air instead of bullets. The guns have perhaps a bit less recoil than a standard 9mm, but they still have some. Anyway. The super cool thing about shooting without ammo is that you can safely do all kinds of things you couldn't do at a regular range. Like shooting while walking forward or backward, shooting faster than the standard one-shot-per-second, or shooting with a bunch of your buddies all together, without divided lanes. (Oh, and no sore thumb from reloading ammo!) The five of us had a great time. :) Everyone did really well, and it was just a ton of fun.

Next we picked up the kids, dropped off Dad, and made our way into the city for lunch with our other friend S and her two kiddos. We ate at a Persian buffet place, then walked down to Ben & Jerry's in search of some Schweddy Balls. WHICH THEY DIDN'T HAVE. (It had apparently not been released on the West Coast yet.) Curses. But, we had some ice cream anyway, so it wasn't a total loss. After ice cream and a bit more walking around, S took her kids home, Tom & I took our kids back to Grandma & Grandpa's, and we all reconvened back in Portland for some more walking and eating. Browsing at Powell's, hike down to Voodoo Doughnuts ("The magic is in the hole!"), pause down by the waterfront, then a bunch more walking back & forth trying to figure out where to eat dinner, finally ending up at Dragonfish. It was really great to visit with everyone and have some grownup time. Plus, any day that includes a maple-bacon bar from Voodoo is a damn good day. As an added bonus, my parents had already put the kids to bed by the time we got home. It was great!

Alas, our vacation had come to an end. Saturday we were up and out, making our way back home. Our flights were, thankfully, uneventful (no repeat of the double-meltdown from the Phoenix-to-Seattle flight), and though it was after 11pm by the time we finally dragged our weary selves through the door of our apartment, we were at least able to sleep in a bit the next morning. The cats were quite happy to see us, and Eleri was overjoyed to see Leo, flinging herself onto him for a hug. Hehe.

Vacation complete! Coming up next: a brief recap of the past week.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vacation Blogging (Part 2)

Here we are in Oregon! But I'll back up first.

At last update, we were headed over to Mary Laura's place. She treated us to pizza, salad & beer, and some good company. Soren was totally fascinated by her rowing machine; both the kids were, really, but Soren did some good rowing. The next morning, we went over to the university to see ML's lab and check out the campus. ASU is pretty (even if Phoenix is too damned hot) and we had a nice time wandering about. Soren and Eleri were both very excited to see the rattlesnakes in the Life Sciences building. Snakes in terrariums, not just slithering through the halls. ;)

After our campus tour, we made our way over to In-N-Out burger for some delicious, delicious burgers. Mmm. Hadn't eaten In-N-Out since we moved away from California. For a fast food joint, those are some damn tasty burgers.

That evening, the kids hung out with Grandma & Grandpa, so we could go out to dinner with Amy & Jeff. They took us to Delux Burger for even more tasty burgers, fries & beer. Nothing wrong with that! Sadly, we had to make it an early night, because it would be an eeeeeaaaaarly morning the next day.

3:20am, the alarm clock went off, and we were up and on our way to the airport for our 6am flight. We did a bit of driving around in circles, trying to get the rental car returned after stopping to fill the gas tank - the combination of one-way streets and no-turn lanes were enough to send us around the block a couple of times at least - and then insufficiently clear signage at the rental car place led us off on yet another detour. But! At last we made it and were on our way.

To the wrong terminal (because I'd forgotten that we were not on the same airline we'd taken to Phoenix). So we had to hop another shuttle bus, which took us on a nice tour through economy parking before depositing us in the correct terminal. Now we were about an hour before our flight, but we got checked in fairly quickly and made our way to security. That's when the real fun started.

The woman checking IDs and boarding passes was apparently oblivious to the long line developing at her station, because she was taking her sweet time gabbing with each and every person. We finally got past her and into the line for x-ray screening. They have one of those full-body scanners at the Phoenix airport, so it took a long time to get everyone through that, one at a time, especially when people are idiots who can't follow directions. We, however, were waved through the standard metal detector, since we were traveling with the wee scraelings.

However.

There was some commotion when our bags were in the x-ray machine. The TSA agents hustled us all over to a table and brought our carry-ons over for a manual check. Turns out we'd completely forgotten about half a bottle of juice and half a bottle of water we'd left in the bottom of Soren's backpack. Whoops. They were also apparently suspicious of items in Tom's backpack, which turned out to be...books. It's true that he had quite a few in there, but for crying out loud.

So after the emptying, repacking, and re-x-raying of our bags, we had to hustle to our gate, where our flight was already starting to board. We did not have time to get another drink for the kiddos, and not long after we got settled aboard the plane, Soren (who had watched the TSA agents confiscate his orange juice) started whining about being thirsty. Eleri, meanwhile, was mad about being made to sit still. The situation devolved into a double-meltdown, with both kids bawling. Super fun times. The flight attendants came by with an offer to reseat us (apparently with the futile hope that we'd bother fewer people with the yelling if we were in the back of the plane) but when we explained that Soren was just upset about losing his juice, they were more than happy to bring him something to drink. Fortunately, that calmed him down, and Eleri chilled out soon after. They were both asleep before takeoff. Super early mornings are rough!

They ended up sleeping almost the whole way to Seattle, which worked out great. Nice peaceful trip, for the most part. We flew right over the Grand Canyon, which was cool to see. Too hazy for decent pictures, unfortunately, even if I'd been able to get out my camera (I couldn't, with Eleri sleeping on me, but 'twas no matter). When we got to Seattle, we were able to meet up with none other than Soren's bestest buddy A and his parents! They were on their way back to VA after visiting grandparents. It was pretty cute, watching the boys run around together for a few minutes. A's look of shock to discover Soren there was pretty hilarious. Soren, on the other hand, was happy to see A, but not nearly as surprised as you might expect, to find his buddy suddenly there at an airport all the way across the country.

One more short flight, and we arrived in Oregon. Ah, beautiful southern Oregon. Tom's parents met us at the airport. Grandma hung out with the kids & me while Tom & his dad went to get the rental car. A short drive to Grants Pass followed, where we got checked into our hotel, got some lunch, and spent the rest of the day visiting with Grandma & Grandpa.

Yesterday we did some more visiting. The kids got to hang out with their cousins for most of the day, which was great. This morning we took the kids to Riverside Park so they could do some running around. Grandma had to work today, but Grandpa accompanied us to lunch, where we got to visit with Caitlin for a little while. Lots more playing with Grandpa for the rest of the afternoon, and now we're getting ready to have some dinner.

It's been a great trip so far. :) I'm taking lots of pictures; unfortunately I won't be able to upload them until we get home, but the wait will be worth it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vacation blogging!

If you were to ask Soren, he would tell you that we woke up in the middle of the night to leave for our trip. He's not too far off; it certainly was still dark out when we got up to catch the 6:30 metro shuttle. It was to be a very long day.

Getting to the airport was happily uneventful. Everything was running on time, so we were soon aboard our plane. We were fortunate to be able to trade seats with people and all sit together on both flights, which was helpful. Eleri was able to switch laps at will and even sit with Soren on his seat for a little while, which worked out way better than having to be confined to one seat with one parent. She wasn't completely without complaints, but things went way, way better than I had feared. Yay!

We made great time to Denver and actually landed so early that they didn't have a gate available for us. So we sat on the tarmac for a while. It wasn't too hideously long, but it was long enough for Eleri to fall asleep. Whoops. It was probably for the best, but she ended up staying asleep all through deplaning and most of lunch. We eventually had to wake her up to eat. ;) Then we were delayed almost an extra hour while they made some repairs to our next plane. We made many, many trips up & down the moving walkways so the kids could burn some energy. Eleri was pretty darned cute, just trotting along down the middle of the walkway. Hehe.

At long last, we were able to board and be on our way to Phoenix. All the running around at the airport must have done something, because Soren nodded off while we were waiting for our turn to take off. Eleri kept petting him and trying to give him some of her water. It was quite adorable. :)

Upon landing, we got our rental car & made our way to my sister's house. Soren bounded out of the car, excited to see my parents. Eleri, despite having not seen my dad in a full year, apparently recognized well enough him from Skype, since she immediately gave him a big hug. So sweet. Before too long, it was time to head out again.

One of the reasons we chose this week to come here is that last night was the world premiere of the documentary Mitchell 20. The documentary features my sister and 20 of her colleagues from the school where she used to teach 4th grade. (Yes, I can do simple addition. Despite the title, there were actually 21 teachers featured in the film.) One teacher, who had achieved National Board Certification herself, encouraged 20 of her coworkers to attempt the same, which is no small challenge, as it turns out. So after a long day of traveling, I left a very tired Tom with the kids and went out with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law to watch the film. (In case you didn't know, I have a pretty great husband.)

The movie was really quite interesting. I won't do it justice with a description, so you should just click the link above and check out the trailer. These teachers did an amazing thing, and I'm super proud of my sister and her colleagues.

My parents offered, as we were returning home, to hang out with the kiddos in the morning when they woke up, so Tom & I could get a little extra sleep. So when Soren woke me up this morning, I took a glance at the time and took him downstairs to visit. I was a little surprised by how dark it was outside at 7am, but I didn't give it a ton of thought. I was pretty tired. ;) I came back upstairs but didn't end up falling back to sleep, so when Eleri woke up about an hour later, we both went back downstairs.

Thirty more minutes passed, with the kids and my parents happily playing together. At that point, my mom handed me her iPhone to show me something, and I noticed the clock at the top read...5:30. Augh! My iPod was still set to Eastern time, and I had taken Soren downstairs to my folks at FOUR IN THE FRIGGIN MORNING! Daughter of the year, right here, that's me. They assured me it was fine, they were happy to have some extra time with the wee weasels, but I still felt pretty bad about it.

So it's been another long day so far for all of us. ;) We did take the kids over to a fun indoor trampoline place and then had a tasty lunch at the Chinese Cultural Center. Since then we've just been lounging at home, and tonight, Tom & the kids & I will be going to Mary Laura's for dinner. I am hopeful that the little rascals will sleep rather a bit later tomorrow morning. ;)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Someday I'll learn to blog again

Until then, though, here are some more snippets of cuteness.

Eleri frequently leaves the first 's' off words that start with a blended s-consonant sound. So she says Soren just fine (well, "Sowen") and 'sh' words well enough, but sneakers and spicy snacks are "neakers" and "picy nacks." She also softens the 't' in words starting with 'st,' which is how she ends up sometimes shouting excitedly about "My dick!" at the playground or "Dickers!" in the craft store. Hehehe.

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The way Eleri asks questions cracks me up. She peaks in the middle, with the rest of her query almost added as an afterthought.

"What's THAT?! Sound."
"Read THIS?! Book."
"Where DADDY?! Go."

Hehe.

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Soren is enjoying the heck out of preschool. He's been making all kinds of cute little art projects, and he's so proud of them. Tomorrow he's the class VIP (Very Important Preschooler), which means he gets to bring snack for everyone and something for show & tell. Also, he gets to be the line leader when they go to the gym or playground or wherever as a group. He is very excited. It's adorable.

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It's become something of a routine for us to watch a Signing Time DVD (or two) in the afternoons. Eleri's still on the one-nap-per-week schedule (slightly modified this week, as she's been a little under the weather) so it seems to benefit everyone to have some chill-out time after lunch. Both kids are learning lots of signs, which is great. Soren's taken to asking me, "What's the sign for [insert object of interest]?" and when I say I don't know, he wants to look it up online.

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We leave in a little less than a week for our vacation. Soren's super excited about the trip, keeps talking about it, keeps asking if we're leaving tomorrow, etc. I'm not looking especially forward to the long plane rides with Eleri (she's at kind of a tough age for the whole "sitting still for extended periods of time" thing) so hopefully it won't be too bad. Fingers crossed!

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As always, even if I've been letting my blogging slip, I've kept up with the daily photos (mostly...I miss one day every now and again, but I just take pictures the next morning and call it good), so check out Flickr for all the latest. :) Eventually I will get my act back together with the blog. Probably. ;)