Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Just writing, thinking, and percolating

Since things have been going a mile a minute for us lately and I'm usually in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong equipment to do a proper blog post with the pictures I've taken, AND since I've always gotten out of the habit of writing in my journal regularly, I decided as I was sitting here tonight to just type a bit of an update to keep a record, somewhat.  There have been a lot of changes in life for us, and I'll document those in due time, but tonight I'm feeling like writing about family.  I'm really enjoying this time with the kids.  It's so much fun having Jon in our family and incorporating his hobbies and interests into our activities.  He is a home-body and I've realized I am, too.  And the kids are, for the most part.  Grant often likes to ask where Grandma is (he has an attachment to my mom that the other kids never seemed to form--I think it comes from the lengthy time we spent living with them) but we usually lay low at home.  We have this great house now where the kids have room to play outside and places to keep their toys.  We've established a reward system for things like cleaning up after themselves and keeping the house rules and they abide by it pretty well, when we keep on top of them.  They love playing video games like Mario Kart, Minecraft, and Marvel Lego Superheros.  We play hide and seek outside, pick blackberries from the bushes near our house and on our street, and are really enjoying summer.  I want to remember this time when the boys are fun, innocent, and loving and the worst things I have to deal with are potty training (almost diaper-free!) and tattling.  We have recently established a new procedure where if they start fighting, they get one chance to work it out.  If it doesn't stop, they get locked in their room (which we call the Get Along Room) until they can get along.  Sure enough, we've only had to follow through twice.  The first time they didn't believe we'd do it and it took them some time of crying and screaming before they decided being in there was worse than whatever they had been fighting about.  The second time they were in there for only about a minute before we heard, "Okay!  We're getting along now!" and they out.  Now, we just have to remind them one time and they usually work it out, or it's not so bad that we can't just ignore them.  Jon and I are doing well with our mutual disciplining and the kids are responding well.  My goal right now is to just enjoy them every minute I possibly can.  I want to make great memories of the little, everyday things. And then somedays, like today, I just want to sit in my room and read or watch TV and I tell them it's Mommy and Daddy's quiet time and they have to stay out.  And they usually do.  Sometimes we go through days (or several days in a row) where they get on everybody's nerves, but we make it through and it's the days like today that I can sit back and remember and appreciate.  Tomorrow Jon and I are going to Santa Cruz and my mom is taking the kids for us, so yay!  I'm really excited.  They're doing a promotional thing where after 5pm the rides are only $13 a person if you bring a Pepsi can, so we're going for it.  These are the things we try to do alone (and simpler activities, too) now and then to try and have our newlywed time.  It's a trial being newly married and raising three active boys at the same time, especially since Jon has never raised kids before.  Everything is so new to him and I need to remember that more than I do.  We are so comfortable together that it literally feels like we've been together for years, and if I'm not careful I can easily let the ins and outs of life with kids take over everything.  So, tomorrow is couple time, today was family time.  And tomorrow my mom is taking the kids on a much-anticipated bus ride of Sonora! :) They built a new bus stop in my parents' neighborhood and the kids have been DYING to go on a bus ride.  Such simple pleasures.  They are so sweet and wonderful little boys.  Well, hopefully pictures to come soon.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Trip to Laughlin and Sonora

On Mother's Day, we loaded up after church and drove to Laughlin, NV (near where Jon's parents live) to visit with Jon's mother.  We stayed at a neat hotel/casino on the Colorado River called the Colorado Belle.  It's built to look like a steamboat and appears to sit in the water.  Here's a picture of it across from the river:

To walk in the front door, you cross a bridge and moat-type thing full of koi.  They have vending machines with fish food and the boys loved hanging over the side and watching the feeding frenzies.

On the other side, there is a great little walk way along the river.  It was a beautiful night.

You would think bunking in one hotel room with three little boys for two nights would be disastrous.  It wasn't too bad, though.  This is the second time we've all shared a hotel room but this time Grant didn't have his own crib.  The hotel wanted to charge an extra $10 per night for a crib for him so we stuffed them all in bed together.  It went really well, and here are the cuties.

On the second day, Jon went to his mom's house to help her with something and he took Craig with him.  On their way back, they drove past this little town off the beaten path where the have a resident heard of wild donkeys.

The had some hay to feed the grown ups but this little one had a sign on his forehead saying not to feed him.  Apparently the donkeys were really big and pushy.  I wish I could have seen them, but it sounds like it might not have been a good idea to have a bunch of little kids running around and getting stepped on.

One Wednesday we drove out to Sonora.  It was a fun trip since we went a different way than just driving through the central valley.  We went through Las Vegas, which was fun to show the kids and tell them it's where we got married.  Then it was up toward the Sonora Pass.  It was a nice drive.

Mono Lake

Snow, at the pass, in May.  We were lucky the pass was open on the way there.  It was closed when we left, but we went the other way, back down through the central valley.

Just a pretty scene with deer in a field in the same abandoned golf course the boys and I went to when we had our pictures taken last year.  Jon and I spent a lot of time driving around and showing him the lay of the land.

One night, my parents kept the boys for us and we got a hotel room at the Sonora Inn.  We had dinner at a great place called Mike's Pizza where I, believe it or not, won this little guy in the grabber machine!

We were there for about a week having fun and taking care of business.  Things are all in flux but, at the same time, things are clearing up as fast as they get cloudy.  One item at a time, I guess.  Life is never boring and we are excited to see how it will all turn out. :)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Natural History Museum

Before things start ramping up again around here and we get our move underway (we're moving to Sonora sometime before the end of June), I want to get my blog posts up to date.  If all goes well, I should be getting things posted quickly.  First, before I breeze past it entirely, I want to mention Mother's Day.  Jon was very sweet to surprise me with this pretty little swan with a rose and a card.  We had plans to head out of town on a week and a half trip that afternoon so we weren't going to have much time to do much.  Plus, I like a Mother's Day that just gives me a chance to do as little as possible.  I also love going to church on Mother's Day.  This year, they reserved the entire third hour for the women to have a little brunch of fresh fruit and cheesecake in the gym.  It was great.  Right after church, we loaded up the kids in the car and drove out of town.  We were headed to Laughlin, NV for two days to see Jon's mom and spend the rest of Mother's Day with her.  But the rest of that is for the next post.

Before Mother's Day, we took the boys back for another visit to the California Science Center.  This time we went to the Natural History Museum for the first time.  I love how many interactive, children-centered things they have.

Caught Grant trying to climb the ropes now and then, but the skeletons remained in tact after we left.


These rooms were some of my favorites.  Every cubby on the side had a diorama of a different area of the world and its animals, all taxidermy-ed.

This room was full of stuff for the kids, including a giant, stuffed polar bear.  Grant loved hugging its leg.

The Science Center has a room with a giant ice wall so before we left, we headed over there to see it again.  The boys love to sit on the snow-mobile they have in that room.  When I told them to smile, Craig grabbed Ethan and hugged him.  Cute boys.  :)

Every time we've gone to the Science Center, we've walked past the hurricane simulator and Craig has begged and begged to try it out.  As a rule, we generally don't do those kinds of things even though its only $2.  However, this time, Craig remembered that he had $2 from the Tooth Fairy and asked to use that money, so we said yes.  The best part of saying "no" a lot of the time is the occasion when we get to say yes.  They were SO excited.

Outside, we walked through the rose garden that has this great fountain.

Jon and I went back to the Science Center just a few days ago because they opened up a Pompeii exhibit that is travelling through.  I'll post more about that later.  I love things like this and even though Sonora is kind of excluded and further away from this sort of thing, there are other benefits to it.  There are definitely other aspects to living in an abundantly populated area like this that I won't miss, like waiting in line for 30 minutes at the movie theater and crowded parking lots.  I like a slower pace and am glad for the chance we've had to see the things we did here and have the fun we've had, but I'm looking forward to going home.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Renaissance Faire and some weird stuff

About three weeks ago, Jon and I decided to go to the Renaissance Faire and to go all out with costumes and everything.  Our plan was to go on a Saturday after he got off work.  The day did not turn out at all like we had expected it to.  

He was supposed to get off at 1pm and meet me there, but as I waited, he texted to say he wasn't going to be off until 3:00.  So, I scouted the place out, searched the vendors, found the best food stands, and watched a magic show.  

My favorite food stand was this little one on the corner that served several flavors of fruit sorbet in the fruit's shell.  Mango flavored in half a hollowed-out mango, pineapple in a mini pineapple, etc.  It was SO good and refreshing because it was SO hot!

At 3:30, I got a text saying a machine had gone down at the plant and he had to stay.  Maybe until 5:00 he said.  This really stunk because we had already paid to rent the costumes and I had already bought the two tickets and the faire ended at 7:00.  No refunds.  But, I tried to make the most of it and went to the jousting tournament.  This was the highlight of the day.  I really wished Jon could be there, but I kept him up to date with the events of the tournament through text.  It was amazing, entertaining, and unlike any jousting tournament I've ever heard of.  I guess when you go to a show in Southern California, the players make the most of it, hoping to be discovered.

Here's a copy of the texts I sent him:

Very anti-climatic in texts, but you get the idea.  They were sword-fighting and champions were coming out of the woodwork.  It was awesome.

Jon finally made it there by 6:00.  He changed into his costume and we headed into the faire to enjoy at least one hour of fun together.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. :( We walked just far enough into the faire for him to find an ancient-coin vendor (he loves ancient coins).  He was talking to the guy as I started to feel really weak and queasy.  I thought I might have gotten too hot from the day and the corset was wearing on me, so I went to sit down.  Soon, though, I knew it was something more.  I was going to be sick.  The first aid people helped us and gave me a place to rest while he got the car.  Luckily, Jon was able to make a good deal with the coin guy before he found me resting and ill, so he got some nice Roman coins out of it.  I was in no condition to drive, so we took one car home and the faire people said we could leave the other one and come back the next day to get it.

We decided to take my car and leave his since that evening, as I was meeting him in the parking lot, one of the rear windows rolled down and wouldn't go back up.  We didn't want to leave it out all night in a dusty parking lot in the LA area with one window down.  I got really sick that night and it lasted the whole next day, too.  What a way to end a day at the faire!  At least I got to have fun, Jon got some cool coins, and we experienced the ambiance together for a brief moment.  

In conclusion, this is somewhat unrelated, but anecdotal anyway.  On our way to get the car the next day from the faire parking lot, it was late (Jon had worked until 6:00 again) so we rushed the kids in the car for the 30 minute drive to the faire.  It was late coming home and I had been sick all day and hadn't made anything for anyone to eat, so we stopped at a nearby Carl's Jr. for dinner.  As we were eating (me still feeling really icky), a man came in and asked who had the Acura.  Apparently, he had seen another guy come out of the next door Thai restaurant, angrily wander around the parking lot until he stopped by our car.  Then he leaned against our rear window and in a fit of rage, grabbed the rear windshield wiper and ripped it off the car!  He threw it on the ground and stalked away.  The guy who witnessed it was with his cousin, so the cousin took off following the guy while the other one came in to find us.  Jon went out there and called the police, while keeping an eye on the bad guy without letting him know they were on to him.  As soon as the police showed up, the guy figured it out and took off running.  One police officer stayed and talked to Jon and the other went off to catch the bad guy.  He succeeded, thank goodness.  He admitted to everything.  Apparently he had been having dinner with his girlfriend and some friends when he got angry and stormed out.  Crazy.  We took the car in the next day to get the window AND the wiper fixed.  They said that someone from the courthouse would call us and we would send them the receipt for the wiper.  Unfortunately, it only cost $70.  I hoped it would be more to teach that guy a lesson.  It was a crazy weekend.  

More crazy stuff has happened to us since.  Life is in a tumultuous and changing time for us right now.  We're having fun where we can, getting through the hard things, and waiting for it all to work out.  I'll try to keep the blog up to date since I'll never remember the sequencing of all these things in a few months.

Friday, May 9, 2014

San Diego Zoo and Birthdays

This year, for Craig's and my birthday, we decided to do a special family trip to the San Diego Zoo.  This was one of the last big things down here in Southern California that we really wanted to do before we move.  It was a really fun day and the boys did well.  It was something we all got to enjoy.

That's a camel in the middle, not a rock.

The koalas were cute and fun.  This one was actually awake and looking around, which was a surprise.

The pandas were the highlight.  I guess there are very few on loan to zoos outside of China.

We also got to ride the sky tram, which the boys were SOOOO excited about.  They are always asking to ride this or go on that whenever we see something like this.  Usually, we say no but this was included in the ticket price so why not?  They were thrilled, but I have to admit it was a little scary to me.

They only four people per car so Craig and Jon rode in the #21 behind us.

They were all so excited all day about all the cool things.  This was just some cool river display we saw as we waited in line to go back up the tram.

The meerkats were cute.

We went to the zoo on Monday and Wednesday was our actual birthday.  I got Craig balloons and donuts to wake up to.  We opened presents and had a fun day, just hanging out at home and playing Craig's new game he got, Skylander.

After lunch, we we to a specialty cupcake shop and each chose one.  It was a GREAT alternative to me baking a whole cake with a bunch of leftovers on my own birthday.

We blew out candles, too.

Mmmmm.  Lemon blueberry cheesecake.

That night, Jon and I went out to dinner and a movie.  It was a great day and one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time.