Oh, the weather outside is frightful . . .

. . . or was soon to be anyway. We opted to leave California 12 hours early to beat the rain/snow storms that intended on plowing a course straight up I-15 into Utah. 

We hit the road at 9pm and with a little help managed to drive through the night with only minimal stops.

These puffs should be outlawed - or at least come with a large warning label and a pair of latex gloves. I can only imagine how raw my insides looked after being forced to digest such a incendiary "snack".

Smooth, mouth-watering chocolate . . . such sweet relief from the cheesy burn. I just wish it had come in a bigger size.

The brownies were supposed to go to the families Nate visits every month. Unfortunately for them, our early departure meant deliveries had to be postponed until we got back to California in January.  And since no one likes stale brownies . . . taking them with us was really more an act of service.

We made it to Orem in near-record time, after tag-team drive swapping every 2 hours. A 7:30 am arrival meant I climbed into bed for an early morning nap just as the snow started to fall. Exhaustion from driving all night is SO much better than spending the day crawling along a isolated freeway in near white-out conditions with 4 Things complaining about snacks and seatbelts and movie selections and potty breaks and hands not being kept to themselves.


No, Jackson!

I got really mad (at him,) then I laughed (to Nate.) Can you appreciate the irony? Maybe Thing 2 will grow up to be the next David Shannon.

The Deconstructionists

From this . . .

. . . to this . . .

. . . in a matter of 3 hours. Hansel and Gretel ain't got nothin' on this houseful.

Christmas (lack-of) Lights

Doesn't Thing 3 make a fabulous, albeit small, Rudolf? Thanks to Thing 2 for sharing his latest Kindergarten creation.

A couple weeks ago we got home from church and Thing 3 asked when the men were going to put lights up on our house. Of course she had noticed the 4 guys with ladders, hard at work across the street, as we pulled out of the driveway earlier that day.

The lovely result of our neighbors' hired help's hard work.

I responded, "We aren't going to have Christmas lights on our house this year, sweetie. 'Cause you remember how Mama drove over them last January - after Daddy worked so hard to take them down and lay them out on the garage floor so he could later roll them up and keep them from getting tangled?"

Yes, I did - over all 7 strands of the lights for which I searched high and low to find the previous year. Strands that were composed of alternating mini-pearl-globe bulbs of red, green, and white - lights that are difficult enough to find I can't even find a photo of them online. If only those little pearl bulbs had been made to support 4300+ lbs of minivan . . . instead, another victim of pregnancy brain lay in pieces on the garage floor.

At least my Moravian star and entry trees were safely tucked away before the shatter-spree commenced.


Lasso, zipline, . . . tooth extractor?

Thanks to a helping hand from a little girl at Kid's Factory (no, they don't actually make kids at this factory), Thing 2's 3rd baby tooth is a goner. Another lesson for this little monster to learn - ROPE DOESN'T GO IN YOUR MOUTH!

Geneological Evolution

What do you get when you mix

this (viking)

with this (Dane)

and this (Englishman)

and this (Irishman)

and this (Welshman)

and this (German)

and this (Pilgrim)?

You get this!

Thing 2's Kindergarten class presented a heritage fashion show as part of their "Celebrate Us" unit. I opted for the easy route and dressed Jack as a cowboy since the mutt blood Nate and I blessed him with presented a serious complication - imagine a tartan kilt over knickers, complete with lederhosen, a horned helmet, and gold buckles on his shoes. A confusing and unfortunate picture, wouldn't you say? In all fairness, Nate and I both come from authentic cowboy stock (note Grandpa Day's belt buckle & bolo tie), so Jack's costume isn't too far off the mark.

Watch Jack strut his stuff on the catwalk (uh, countertop.)

Cowboy Jack and his beautiful senorita, Julia.
(note the lasso - this zip line is multi-functional)


Christmas Card Anxiety

I'm doomed. Thanks to many well-meaning friends and family members I am sure to never send another Christmas card.

"I Spy" creativity. Too bad it peaked in 2006.

The last (post)card I sent out was in 2006 (for all of those who thought I forgot you last year, fear not, I forgot everyone.) Due to bouts of 1st trimester crotchetiness and general pregnancy brain I failed to put anything together in 2007. I rationalized that since we hadn't moved, changed jobs, or added to the family we really didn't need to send holiday greetings around the globe. But to be entirely honest, I was also experiencing serious performance anxiety.

The 2006 "I Spy" postcard was a complete fluke. The photo and letter formatting were a pain, although I managed to throw it together and place my online order all in a single day (while Nate was out of town, no less.) I went with postcards because I'm cheap - seriously - postage is less expensive than 1st class, and no envelopes are required. And yet I got rave reviews. And I felt like an idiot. And now I don't know what to do. It's been 2 years and we've got a 4th Thing. The pressure of unsent warm wishes and seasons' greetings is mounting, but I'm petrified of disappointing my public. What to do?

Low-hung Swing

The Things were bored with the backyard (evidently they've grown too old to find satisfaction in simply collecting ants and potato bugs) and we adults were tired of the kids in the house. Easy solution - a new novelty item means instant entertainment. Nate hung this rope swing low to the ground - 12" or so, at my request. I needed to make sure that if the kids fell they wouldn't have far to go before hitting the ground. I admit I also worried about the potential for hittin' a noggin' on the tree trunk, but decided that such a significant right of passage shouldn't be eliminated.

All was well until yesterday afternoon. I was doing dishes (really?) at the kitchen sink while watching the kids play outside. Thing 1 was swinging with unrivaled enthusiasm. She tightly gripped the rope, leaned back, legs fully extended, and soared toes to the sky. In a split second her momentum (and the swing) came to a thudding halt when her head/shoulders/back hit the ground.

She cried, and I tried to stifle my giggles of disbelief before she made it into the house. My foresight was clouded to the possibility of a head hitting the ground while a butt was still on the swing. Oops.


The Power She Wields

A few weeks ago Thing 2 came home from school with a serious matter weighing on his mind. His teacher, Mrs. Call, had said that the very next day he would be visiting the Principal's office. Jack was very, very worried. I asked why he was being sent to see Mr. Gaebel - had something happened at school that he needed to tell me about?

  • Was he noisy or disruptive?
  • Did he say a potty word or burp or fart to make the kids laugh?
  • Did he take spare underwear to school for sharing?
  • Did he run and hide from his teacher?
  • Had he forgotten that hi-fives, not kisses, were the age appropriate gesture of affection?

Oh, the many, many possibilities that swam through my head (and left me feeling more than a little queasy.) I mentally formulated an appropriate apology/explanation for when Mrs. Call's call came.

But Jack promised he had been really good. He had even helped a classmate when her lunch fell out of her school bag and scattered all over the floor. So why then, he wanted to know, would Mr. Gaebel want to see him? And would he yell and be very angry?

Jack fretted and worried all afternoon and into the night. We discussed the situation one last time before he fell to sleep and I tried to reassure him that he had nothing to be afraid of - Mr. Gaebel is such a nice man, and if something were truly wrong I would've already received a phone call (can you imagine my relief when darkness fell and no call had materialized?)

The next day came and almost went without any mention of visiting the Principal. This turned out to be one of those rare situations where no news is good news. Upon inquiry Jack nonchalantly admitted to a quick visit to Mr. Gaebel's office (who wasn't even present at the time) to sign a "Good Citizen" chart. He pulled a 1/2 sheet notice from his backpack that explained he had earned the privilege of signing this very prestigious poster because of his kind service to a classmate the day before. The notice also invited us in to see his signature at our convenience.

Any residual consternation immediately turned to pride - and confusion. Where had Jack's fear and par-paranoia come from? Had I been too harsh with my instructions (threats) regarding school behavior? Additional questioning led to the truth - Addison was the primary instigator of this situation.

Thing 1 only looks sweet and innocent.

Earlier in the year Addison had warned Jack about the Principal's office and the big, big trouble that awaited him there. In one fell swoop she had managed to put a fear like no other into the mind of her inexperienced little brother. She had left him anxious and worried . . . and so very well behaved.

I have yet to discuss the matter with Thing 1. I'm not sure if she should be praised for giving Jack sufficient incentive to act appropriately at school or reprimanded for unneccesary indoctrination.

Mr. Gaebel - He's hardly the scary guy Jack would lead you to believe.


Let's dance

Do you think we watched too much "So You Think You Can Dance?" this summer?

Thanksgiving, Kindergarten style

The 32nd Annual De Portola Elementary Kindergarten Thanksgiving play was a smashing success! Thing 2 made for a convincining indian brave. He sung, he spoke, he danced.

Looks to me like Los Del Rio ripped off the Macarena dance from the Wompanoag.

The kids each made their own costumes in class - FINALLY an assignment that your mother didn't have to help put together.

The budding thespian and his biggest fan were more enthralled by the blow-up turkey.

The week of festivities wouldn't be complete without a traditional Thanksgiving feast, costumes required (again, no mom assistance necessary.)

All tied up

Even after the zip line fiasco Thing 2 still thinks tying knots is a good idea. This time he got himself into a bit of a pickle when he tied his shoelaces to the handles of 2 sleeping bag stuff sacks.

More interestingly, a few days earlier this same little boy had tied said sleeping bags so as to hang from the loft bed for use as punching bags.

What a quandary. After I took documentary photos I walked away. After all - if he's not going to think things through before acting he's definitely going to need strong problem solving skills. What a perfect time for him to start developing them.


They're back

Apparently I should've paid the anti-flamingo insurance (extortion). At least this time there was no late-night knock at the door.

Poor birds. With all their traveling some are looking worse for wear.

Maybe I shouldn't have told Amy I was the one who sent the flamingos her way. This war ends now. I really can't afford to play anymore . . .


Indiana Jackson

What does this look like to you?

I see an oddly placed clothes-line.
Thing 2 saw a zip-line. At least that was his intention when he tied the rope and hung the hanger.

Luckily this was the full extent of the damage (unless tears and groans of pain count.) Nate should be very proud; it wasn't the knots that failed, but rather the plastic hanger.


A late night suprise

Nate left for China again about a week ago. This time around hasn't been nearly as hard. The kids have settled into a good routine and Sketch is sleeping through the night. We're not eating out as much and I manage to have something other than Diet Dr. Pepper for most of my meals - unfortunate for my waist-line, that something is typically chocolate (or ice cream.)

I've spent my evenings in quite contemplation and solitude (aka, TV.) All except for last Wednesday night. Let me set the scene:

[Fade In]

Scene: 9pm. Woman (that's me) surfing the net and chatting animatedly on the phone while enjoying a gentle breeze coming through the open window.

(loud noise) KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK

Cecily: "Oh my gosh! Who the heck is knocking on my door this late at night?"

Angel (that's my friend on the phone): "Someone's knocking at your door?"

(Cecily peers out the open 2nd floor window and sees no parked car. She rises from the computer and quickly makes her way downstairs.)

Cecily: "Yeah - I'm gonna keep you on the phone in case something happens. Then you can call the cops and explain when they find my body."

Angel: "OK. I'm here."

(Cecily looks through the peep hole in the door, only to be startled when she realizes that it's being blocked.)

Cecily: "Oh my gosh - the peep hole is blocked. Who knocks on your door this late and then blocks the peep hole?"

Angel: "They're blocking the peep hole?"

(Cecily yells through the door - as much for Angel's entertainment as anything else.)

Cecily: "GO AWAY!!"

Angel: "Who is it? Who's there?"

(Cecily moves into the family room and looks out the window, hoping to catch a glance of the visitor.)

Cecily: "Um . . . there's a pink flamingo in my yard."

Angel: "What? A pink flamingo?"

(Cecily opens the front door and finds no human visitor. Hysterical laughing commences.)

Cecily: "There are pink flamingos all over my yard!! Someone put pink flamingos all over my yard! And there's a sign on my door - that's what was blocking the peep hole."

Angel: "I think you just got flamingled."

Cecily: "I've gotta get my camera. I'll talk to you later."

(Cecily races back into the house to get her camera so this experience can be properly documented.)

[Fade out]

Apparently "Flamingling" is a common fundraiser back East, although I've never seen or heard of it before. The back of the pretty pink sign held a de-flamingling order form with the following available services (compliments of the Mission Viejo 1st Ward Young Women):

  • $10 donation: Prompt flock removal.
  • $20 donation: Prompt flock removal and next stop designation.
  • $25 donation: Prompt flock removal, next stop designation, and a friendly note for the new flamingo hosts.
  • Additional $15 donation: Revelation of who sent the flock to my house.
  • Additional $100 donation: Anti-flamingling insurance so the flock won't come back.
I kept the flamingos around for a day and then sent them on their way. The Things were disappointed once they were gone, but I guess flamingos are fickle that way.

I wish I could've gotten a shot of the whole dozen. Such a lovely sight.


Coincidence or retribution?

Details are still unclear as to how Ellie's Cinderella figurine was victimized. Addy claims to have no knowledge of the violent incident, although a potential motive is strong (see Oct 2008 post "Damage and devastation"). Details will be reported as they are uncovered.


Just say NO!

Trying new things isn't necessarily a good idea. Tattoos, fast cars, drugs, extreme sports, beverages of ambiguous origins, foods prepared with questionable hygiene practices, ultra-trendy haircuts, . . . all can precipitate irreparable damage. As can desserts . . .

For years I've gone to Costco and seen their Very Berry Sundae on the snack bar menu. I was never even slightly tempted - the oversized picture led me to believe that it was an icy, soft-serve imitation topped with a sicky-sweet, jam-like concoction. If only. . . if only that assumption had held true.

On one visit I made the monumental mistake of acquiescing when Nate offered a bite of his Very Berry Sundae. In that instant my world was irreversibly changed forever. No longer can I approach the face at the window and order a hot dog (w/ soda) without the angst of self-denial. Nope, now I get to live in a world where one more almost-insurmountable temptation stares me down each time I head to my favorite big-box warehouse store.

Costco be damned.

I hijacked this photo from some guy's blog. Either it's really old or inflation has been worse than I thought. And what's with the waffle cone? We've never had that on the menu here, or anywhere else I've lived.


Camping at Refugio

Our foray into the wilderness was most invigorating (exhausting). The weather was beautiful (rainy). The clear air was crisp and refreshing (cold). The troops were helpful and cooperative (whiny).

Camp activities included:

hornet sting first-aid,

sand castle sculpting,

child burying,

squirrel tail removal (I don't think the squirrel was permanently damaged when a portion of its tail was ripped off, but maybe now it will think twice before coming so close to little boys),

tandem swinging,

emergency rain shelter construction,

shallow water swimming,

gourmet corn popping,

artificial heightening,

sea weeding,

stump sitting,

. . . and sand printing.

A return to civilization- Santa Barbara's State Street McDonald's has no drive-thru. Sure, it has a plaque commemorating the invention of the egg McMuffin, but you if want one you'll have to order it at the counter. We were muddy and smelly and most certainly surrounded by a hovering cloud of grime. Of course it would have to be the most impeccably clean MickeyD's I've ever seen. The employee on housekeeping duty kept eyeing us with anticipatory disdain. Two words? Job security.