Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The last two weeks recap

We've been getting through these last few weeks since getting back from Santa Barbara by doing the best we can to spend as much quality time together as possible.  Jon's been working crazy hours that seem to change from week to week and sometimes day to day, not to mention the pressure he's been under and the stress as he finishes up his program at work.  A lot of the quality time we all spend together is watching a movie at home or play video games.  The biggest treat is to do this in our bedroom.  As with any marriage, both people bring something to contribute to the marriage.  In our case, Jon brought his sweetness, sense of humor, and a very big T.V. with a game system and lots of cool games.  And lots of Blu-rays.  One day we were having one of these days, just chillin' in the room, and Grant got cozy in Jon's lap and fell asleep.  He's such a sweet little boy.  I just wanted to remember these times.  They are some of the best.

A week or so ago, my oven shorted out and I had nothing to cook with.  It was Sunday, we needed cookies, so I decided to look into making a solar oven.  After realizing I had two pizza boxes on the front porch waiting to go out with the trash, I decided to try it.  It was kind of a pain, but once I got them done and set out in the sun, I was pleasantly surprised at how they worked.  The cookies didn't get browned or even smoosh down much since there wasn't quite enough heat, but they were cooked through.  It took longer, too, of course, but I was impressed.  I keep meaning to use them again, but now that the oven is up and running, I've lost my motivation.  I just need a really good idea of what to cook that won't take so long.  I recommend this as a cool home-school/science project, though.

One lazy morning (Jon was home!), Craig was playing with my phone and wandering around the house, taking pictures.  Here we were, just talking and enjoying time with our new kitten.  You can't see her in this pic, but she's in some later on.  That pink thing on the bed is her little kitten house.  

And here she is.  Her name is Khaleesi (from a book Jon read--the woman in the book was also known as the Silver Queen and since the kitten is considered silver colored...) and she's a Maine Coon.  She is so mellow and sweet but playful when you want her to be.  She is adapting very well.

I have had some trouble with the boys not staying in bed at night (who hasn't).  They would get up, play in the water in their bathroom, make messes, fight, and it was never ending.  So I decided to use a behavior chart.  Basically, if they could stay in bed, they would stay at the top of the behavior chart.  If they were at the top five nights in a row, they would earn their OWN milkshakes.  That is huge since if we ever go out and get ice cream or any treat, I usually get one for them all the split.  But, they did it (after two other attempts failed to get them through the fifth consecutive day) and they earned them.  I am also pleased to say that I haven't had much trouble with them going to bed since (knock on wood).

There's a little park close to our apartment, down a little pathway, that the boys and I walk to now and then.  Grant usually rides in the stroller but this time he wanted to walk, Ethan wanted to ride, and Grant wanted to push Ethan.  I thought they were stinking cute. :)

And another one of the kitty.  When she gets sleepy, she is like play-do.  I posed her like this.  

Well, I'm off to bed.  Today was Jon's last day of his two days off (the first two days he's had off in awhile) and we've had a fun time.  Yesterday we went to the beach (Long Beach--ugh--dogs, irresponsible owners, and very windy and chilly--but the kids had fun) and today we flew a kite at the park, got ice cream, and went swimming.  To finish it off, we had movie night in our room, watching Wreck It Ralph.  I loved it.  The kids seemed to also.  I was very pleasantly surprised at it's cuteness and twist in the plot.  I highly recommend it.  Welp, tomorrow back to the old routine.  Which is good...lots to do.  Life is busy, but just busy enough.  It's a good busy.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Santa Monica

Jon's parents and nephew came to visit a couple of weeks ago and they don't get much chance to site see, so we decided to take them to Santa Monica.  It's a place we haven't been to yet and have been wanting to go, plus the kids were still full of "beach! beach! beach!'" chants after our week in Santa Barbara.  I didn't get any pictures that day since I was busy watching the kids.  Also, the wind was super strong and they blew a container of chips over which spilled into the sand.  Then the seagulls came.  I was down by the water while the kids were up by our towels and stuff, playing in the sand and being attacked by seagulls.  When I turned around and saw the commotion and heard all the people around us yelling at the seagulls, I couldn't help but think of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."  Like a brave mother, I ran up towards them scared them off then cleaned up the mess.  

We stayed long enough that day to get to play in the water a little bit, but the wind got the better of us and we packed it up.  Although, Jon and I talked about how nice it was and how fun the rides and stuff on the pier looked, so we planned to go back for our very next date.  It turned out that I found a babysitter for the next day so we went back.  

One of the first things we did was get churros and walk down to the beach.  I'll be darned if one of those bleeding seagulls didn't immediately swoop down and snatch Jon's churro right out of his hand!  Luckily, the seagull dropped it and Jon snatched it right back up (five second rule) and we laughed and laughed.  A few seconds later, that stupid seagull came back for round two and this time it won its prize and flew off with that $3 churro.  Like a good wife, I gave half of mine to Jon (which we carefully hid between bites) and laughed some more.  I would have been mad if it hadn't been so weird and so funny.  

On the Ferris wheel!

After we had spent about an hour out in the water and were having dinner, Jon read to me some stuff he looked up online about Santa Monica.  Apparently, Great White sharks frequent the area often.  I said, "Well, we aren't surfers and we don't go that far out in the water."  To which he answered, "A large number of shark attacks happen within 30 yards of the beach."  Welp, that was fun.  Next time, no water.  Just Ferris wheel.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Santa Barbara

Jon had to go to Santa Barbara for a week of training with work and the company was nice enough to let the boys and me go along.  Not to the training of course (and not that we wanted to :)) but they let us stay at the hotel with him that they paid for.  It was a FANTASTIC week!  I was worried how the boys would do with behavior and sleep patterns all being in one little hotel room, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  I think having so much time together without normal life distractions (i.e. having a LOT of Mommy time and attention) helped them stay on top of their game.  I really wish I could spend as much time focusing on them and their needs in regular life, but this little vacation we had taught me that they CAN be sweet, kind, easy-to-manage little boys when I can take the time to do what I need to do.  I know that expecting myself to be that attentive all the time is more than I can do in regular life and still fulfill all of my responsibilities, but I feel confident now that I can do it when I need to and I know how.  I think that time also helped them realize that they don't need to vie for my attention all the time.  When I ask them to give me a minute, they know that they can because they know I will follow through.  Here's hoping I can maintain it.  I will always feel that Santa Barbara is a special place.  It's a great, mellow vacation spot with lots to do and our time there taught me a lot about how to parent my kids.  So, thanks Santa Barbara. :) Now for the pictures.

The first thing we did on the very first day we got there was drive to the downtown area.  We passed a small mission that used to be the main section of the old fort.  We spent some time having a history lesson there then found a place to have lunch.  It was a very fun first afternoon in Santa Barbara.

After the mission, we found a place to have lunch (another good thing we got to practice all week was behavior is restaurants).  I discovered the downtown area was only a block away so we walked around and happened upon a ice cream shop of the best ice cream in the world.  McConnell's.  One grocery store in Santa Barbara sold it in pints so every night Jon and I would get some and try a different flavor.

Every chance we got, we would spent an hour or so at the beach.  One day we just hung out there for most of the day.  Grant's new favorite word is "beach."  Every time we get in the car to go anywhere he says, "Beach?"  The beaches there are all flat, the waves are small, and they're just perfect.  I didn't have to worry at all about anyone getting too far out or sucked away by the undertow. 

Awwww. :) I texted this to Jon one day while he was in his training and we were on the beach.  I gotta say, I felt a little bad for him that we got to have all the fun and the only reason we were there was because of him.  We did get to go out and do some things in the evenings as a family, and Friday was a half day for him, so we spent some time sight seeing.  At that point, I was a veteran and could show him around a little. :)

We HAD to hit the famous Santa Barbara mission, of course.  It was so amazing.  I didn't realize that the Catholic church still uses it today as a fully operational mission/church.

They were just a little too short for these cutouts, but I thought it was funny. 

Ah, another day at the beach.

I met a woman at a park (by the beach) one day early in the week and she told me that the Santa Barbara zoo is great for kids.  She offered to meet me on whatever day I decided to go and she could use her membership to get the kids in for free.  I thought that was SO nice of her and, better yet, she followed through!  It was about three days later that we made it to the zoo and, sure enough, she answered my texts and met us there.  It was a great little zoo.  They have tons of history and some really neat animals, but it's small enough to do in one day and the kids loved the train.

In the kids' area they have this ant hill covered in astro turf where kids use cardboard or lunch trays to slide down.  It was awesome.

....and more beach...

On Friday, Jon came with us to the Ty Warner Sea Center on the long wharf.  Everything there is hands-on.  Below, Jon is petting a shark.  This was a life-long dream of his.  See the happiness?

Last but not least, we had to finish off our visit with one more trip to the beach. :)

The best part, to me, is that Santa Barbara is really not that far away from us.  We could realistically go there for a day again.  When we don't have quite as much time to drive all the way, there are plenty of nice beaches within less than an hour's drive.  In fact, we went to Santa Monica just last Monday (that's another post).  I love it here.  I don't know how long we'll be here, but for now, it's been great for all of us.