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Just Add Water

So, Toddler. Everyone’s away at camp. It’s just you and me, kid! How about we take this opportunity to sleep in until 10 every morning! No? You still want to get up at 7 am and eat right away? Because sometimes it’s nice to wake up, sit in bed for a few minutes–stretch and think a little bit–then get up and mosey around before screaming for someone to get you breakfast right away. I’m just saying.

We can sit around all day eating brownies and sugar cereal while watching the History channel! Or, we could lay out on the patio and read some books? Does that sound fun? No, I didn’t think it would.

Ah, I have an idea. Let’s enjoy what Irvine has to offer and go to the best lagoon pool EVER.

I knew you’d like it! And, miraculously, there are hardly any other families here. What are the odds? It’s our own little playground today. Go ahead, climb the rocks in the middle!

You can slide down the waterslides, too! No? They’re too fast? Maybe later, you say? Alright, there’s lots more to do! Go ahead, walk around! The lagoon is only about 2 1/2 feet deep most of the way around, so you’ll be OK.

Playing in the sand is always fun, and this year I’m pretty sure you won’t eat massive amounts of the stuff and get sick to your stomach. I can’t believe what a big girl you are now!

Oh, hey, what’s that you’re doing? Taking cold water and dumping it all over me? That wasn’t in the deal. You know how I really don’t like water poured all over my head and down my front! Deal with it, you say? Now I know how you feel in the tub? Well, except I don’t dump ice cold water all over you…there is a difference. And I at least try to keep it out of your eyes, I really do.

Alright, I’ll make a deal with you. You can do whatever makes you happy, as long as I can sit here on the sand for a while. It’s called ‘relaxing’, and you should do it more often! It’s good for the ‘ole heart and mind. No, I didn’t think you would want to. But thanks for letting me sit a spell!

I sure miss your brother and sister, but I’m having a lot of fun with you. Let’s do this again tomorrow!

(edited to add….apparently the site of my naked calf muscle in the above picture was too hot for photobucket. I’m so flattered!!!)

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-0-U-S-E

Picture, if you will, The Toddler and I. Disneyland. 12 hours solid. We laughed, one of us cried, we ate lots of ice cream, we waited in line for the new Nemo ride for 2 hours (!!!), we danced like princesses, one of us drank massive amounts of Coke, and the other one dressed up like Snow White and wore a tiara all day.

I’ll post more about it when I’m not so stinking tired. I would not recommend 12 hours of Disneyland with a toddler, except for those of you who are Disney pro’s. And, not to brag, but I consider myself one. I’ll post more about that later, too. Let’s just say…when hubby went to graduate school and we lived here for 3 years, we had So. Cal. Disney passes and I wore them out. Gained a lot of Disney experience in the process and became best friends with the churro vendor. So, you know, I have some mad Disney skillz.

But, right now I’m going to get some sweet, sweet sleep.

First, I’ll leave you with happy Disney memories of days gone by. Here’s a nice family shot in 2005, the 50th anniversary. Good times. I’ll leave it extra big because we had an extra fun time that day!

Golf Camp

As if having The Naturalist go away to Sea World Camp last Saturday wasn’t enough, today The Golfer headed off to Nike Golf Camp. It isn’t so bad, though…his is only a day camp so he comes home every day at 4.

We had to be out the door by 8:45, which normally isn’t a problem because my kids all get up at the butt-crack of dawn. But because we were on a timed schedule, The Toddler and The Golfer chose today to sleeeeeep in. I finally had to wake The Golfer up and he was feeling a bit nervous. He gets a bit hesitant when it’s time to do things he’s never done before, so we decided that he’d just go check it out and decide if he wanted to stay or not.

In the back of my mind I’m thinking…”The check’s already been cashed, buddy, so you are going to stay whether you like it or not” but I know it’s important for him to make that decision rather than feel forced into it. So I bit my tongue and hoped the green course would be a siren song to him and he’d forget how nervous he was of the unknown.

Off we went to Rancho San Joaquin, where they are holding the camp and where my brother, Crazy Hair, and my hubby have often played. It’s a nice little tricky course with lots of sand and water. The Golfer and I walked up, signed in, and chilled a little bit to check out the other players. The Golfer needs a little ‘warm up time’ where he watches what’s going on before he jumps into the action.

There were lots of cute little boys and girls with golf bags practically bigger than they were. The Golfer hovered close beside me, which was nice for my ego after being blown off so totally when dropping The Naturalist off at her camp. Eventually he drifted further and further away. When everyone was herded off to the chipping green, The Golfer gave me a small and sweet smile and went off to his first day of camp.

Don’t you just love it? Golf shoes! Hands in pocket! Nike hat and collared shirt! Could he BE any cuter?!

Sea World Camp

For the rest of the family, Christmas came in December. But for the Naturalist, it came on sunday, when I dropped her off at Sea World Camp. One week, 345345345 animals, no parents. In short, heaven.

It wasn’t too long ago when, asked about where her paradise is, she said, “Olive Garden”. Apparently, at 5, there is nothing better than bread sticks with alfredo dipping sauce. But that was when we lived in Las Vegas, and her exposure to nature and animals was rather limited. Once we moved to Colorado, her interest into the natural world blossomed. Jeff Corwin became her idol, and Animal Planet became her obsession. When I look back, I think immersing herself in nature was a soothing and much needed break from the stresses of daily school pressure.

Fast forward to last year, when we visited Sea World and discovered their resident camp program. She became a girl on a mission to get herself there. She worked hard all year to earn her share of the cost. And now, she’s there. I can send her emails, but other than that we are incommunicado until next friday. Here, I was so worried about HER missing ME for that long, I didn’t consider how much I would miss HER. I started missing her before we began the drive there. And it only intensified by the time I pulled into the parking lot. She, however, didn’t think twice about trading in her family for a bunch of 11 year old girls, some camp counselors, and Shamu.

I hadn’t even parked the car before she’d jumped out with her luggage.

Sea World Camp

“Wait! Wait! Don’t you need a goodbye hug from your mom? Don’t you need me to hold your hand and tell you everything will be OK while you hang back and tell me how nervous you are and how you wish I could stay with you in your dorm room?!”

SeaWorld Camp 2

“Seriously. Aren’t you supposed to be telling me how much you’ll miss me and how I’m the best mom in the world and how you appreciate everything I’ve ever done for you and how if only I could stay with you in your dorm room everything would be better?! WHERE ARE THE TEARS YOUNG LADY!!!!”

SeaWorld Camp

“So you’re just going to leave me here all by myself? For a WEEK? How will I get through it? Are you sure I can’t just come stay with you? Positive? Can I just get one last hug? Are you sure I can do this? For a WEEK? What if I need to tell you something? Who will keep me company? I don’t know if I can do this!”

She indulged me long enough to give me a kiss, tell me to put my big girl panties on, and snap out of it. Feeling nearly hysterical, I left her laughing and bonding with the girl who brought “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul” book. The Golfer (who was missing her as much as I was), The Toddler (who just wanted to eat) and I drowned our sorrow over some Jack in the Box.

It was a good burger & shake (mmm, blackberry!), but we still really miss her a lot. Sigh.

Fort Bridger, Wyoming.

It has finally happened.  Thirty something years after being born, I have officially become my father. 

Driving down I-80 on what is an 8 hour drive (without pit stops) from Utah to Colorado, I saw a sign on the side of the road:  “Historical Site Ahead.  Fort Bridger”.  I had no idea who or what Fort Bridger was, but it was as if the car drove itself to the exit ramp and right up to the place.  I couldn’t wait to see what it was about!

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my kids faces questioning what we were doing.  And I remembered all those years ago when my Dad drove my mom, brother & sisters around New England, stopping at hundreds of historical sites that are scattered all around that part of the country.  It seemed like every weekend was reserved for another trip to a new battleground/antique store/historical place. I swore then, that I wouldn’t go to another historical place because it was so boring.  Of course, I was a teenager, and everything was so boring at that time.

By the time I entered college, all my Dad’s excursions had worked under my skin and in a twist of irony I graduated with an American Studies major.  All history, all the time.  I look back at the attitude I gave my Dad…the eye rolls, the sighs, the “please, not AGAIN’s” and am grateful that he turned a blind ear to my complaints and followed his historical passion all over the country with me in tow. 

And now, here I was at a historical Fort with my own kids. I unloaded them from our packed car and before my daughter could give me an eyeroll of her own said, “Let’s go exploring!  Everyone, run to your favorite building!”  and off we went.  They all stopped by the big wagon.

And then by the tiny little schoolhouse.

I liked the big ice house in the background (it reminds me of Little House on the Prairie!)

It’s only been since getting home that we’ve been able to put any significance to the place…we came across Jim Bridger in one of the mountain man library books we happened upon, and The Golfer put two and two together.  Travel really is the best form of experiential learning, and I love seeing connections form that weren’t there before. We realized that there is a lot of interesting things to know about it….Oregon Trail, mountain men, The Frontier,  and the Army.

I’m just sorry we missed this: Fort Bridger Rendezvous ! 

S.O.S. (Save Our Strawberries), Round 2.

I can’t believe it.  I really, really, can’t believe the chutzpah the birds have around here.  I thought that certainly the owl would have stopped them.  He’s so mean looking!  And intimidating!  True, he doesn’t move, and he’s made out of plastic.  But how smart can the little birds BE?!  They don’t have time to think these things through.  They just work on instinct, right?  RIGHT?! 

After putting the owl in the strawberry bed, I noticed two great looking, green berries.  See how the one in back is starting to redden up?

Look at how nicely they are ripening! 

First thing the next morning, I had planned on harvesting the one in the back to place on my morning healthy yogurt  Eggo waffle smothered in butter. 

Notice anything missing?  Anything like a red, ripe strawberry? 

The red, ripe strawberry that used to be DIRECTLY UNDER the owl?

The red, ripe strawberry that now sits half eaten BESIDE the owl.


Obviously, this is war, and I’m going to need to take it up a notch.

Round 2 winners: the birds.

S.O.S. (Save Our Strawberries), Round 1.

After spending the next few days watching my green berries turn red, and then disappear at the very moment I’d anticipated eating them off the vine, my sister and I came up with a plan. 

Well, actually, SHE came up with the plan and I merely encouraged her once I heard it. 

We have a plastic owl to scare away the pigeons, and it’s actually done a really great job for the past year.  We just keep moving it around different areas of our front, back, & side yards, and it clears an area of about a block of those pesky, annoying, loud, dirty pigeons.  So, why not put the owl in the strawberry bed?  Really, it’s so simple, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it before she did.  Sibling rivalry never really goes away, not even when you’re both adults.  Anyhoo…here she is with our Plan A:

Decoy owl in the strawberry bed.   Doesn’t he look scary?!  That would keep ME out of the strawberries, if I were a little tiny bird. 

HA!  Take that, theiving birds!

Round 1 winner:  The humans.

Oh, The Hairmanity.

When The Toddler was born, she weighed in at 6 pounds 11 ounces. After getting a good look at her, I estimated that really, that weight included 2 pounds of girly baby and almost 5 pounds of dark, curly hair. Even in the ultrasounds, which I recieved every week towards the end of my high risk pregnancy with her, the doctors would exclaim, “Look at all that HAIR on her head! Nurse, have you ever seen so much HAIR in eutero? Look at that afro she’s got!”

Consequently, her hair has outpaced even her physical growth. But being that she’s still a toddler and not a teenager, she has yet to appreciate her lovely, curly, shiny brown locks. Heaven forbid I wash it in the tub. Knowing the drill, she begins to beg “don’t get the brush! NOT THE BRUSH!” as soon as the shampoo is rinsed. When I inevitably do get the brush, it is tears and yelling until all the rat’s nests are cleared away (which is no small feat!). And she really doesn’t care for it to be too styled–cute headbands & hair bows are right out. I manage to get an elastic in about 50% of the time, the other 50% she walks around like Cousin It, which causes hubby to question my mothering skills.

Around about the time she wandered down the stairs with an impressive assortment of tangles in her hair, I decided to give her the first haircut of her life.

I think she could sense this diabolical thought in my mind, and she turned to flee. But, she was wearing my shoes and so she didn’t get very far, very fast. Ha! But seriously, check out that snarl!

As you may imagine, the haircut was not a pleasant experience. I even went to a fancy shmancy kids hair ‘studio’ where you pay an obscene amount of money so your kid can sit in a racecar and watch videos on a TV. No go. The Toddler was miserable….almost as miserable as the lady cutting her hair. (Apparently, you have to pay extra for a ‘stylist with a good attitude’ package).

I held up well until she broke out the lip. Not the pouty lip! She knows it gets me every time.

Alls well that ends well. The stylist cut her hair as quickly as humanly possible, sacrificing a straight, even edge to get us out of there ASAP. Brushing her hair has gotten easier, but she still cries. Still no hair bows or cute headbands. I still only get an elastic in her hair 50% of the time, and hubby still questions my mothering skills. But, it did bring out her adorable curls!

Operation Happy Rabbits, phase 1.

Remember our foster bunnies?  Lulu, the shy and traumatized one?

And Pepper, the adventurous & soft one?  (shown here standing in the cage,  between LuLu and us crazy people.)

So, my plan was to have them stay in the garage.  The Naturalist thought that was cruel and unfair to the bunnies, who need “fresh air, sunshine, and lots of room”.   I put her in charge of the bunny habitat, which incorporated the entire back deck, a mesh fence encircling their small rabbit cage, and lots of toys.

The problem is:  the rabbits are a little shy and a lot freaked out by the change of scenery.  They won’t leave the tiny rabbit cage, and don’t look particularly happy where they are.  LuLu’s little lop ears are lopping even further down, if you can imagine it.  She hides behind Pepper who leaves the cage temporarily to stand up on his back legs, look around, and then scamper back inside to let her know that the crazy people are still out there watching them.  When LuLu does manage to take a few seconds to come out, she strategically hides under a shoe box so we can’t see her.

 

 It doesn’t help that I need to administer antibiotics to them.  I have to say, it is MUCH harder trying to stick a syringe of medicine down a rabbit’s mouth than it is down a toddler’s mouth.  Who knew?  I mean, toddlers put up a fight, but the open screaming mouth actually helps get the medicine in.  But bunnies?  They are quick.  Quick as rabbits you might say.  Pepper snorts, runs to the farthest corner of the cage, and buries his head in the hay.  LuLu, for as shy as she’s been, becomes rather aggitated and actually tries to attack the syringe (with my hand on the end of it!) with her rabbit teeth. 

 Our goals:  To get better at giving them medicine.  To get them comfortable with us.  To get them to come out of their cage and enjoy the backyard.  To get them to snuggle up and play.  (That last one is all my daughter.  These rabbits freak me out as much as I freak them out.)

 The Naturalist has already made progress with Pepper and can actually handle him:

Let Operation Happy Rabbits begin!

S.O.S.–Save Our Strawberries!

I LOOOOVE my strawberry plants.  They grow so vigorously!  And they aren’t very needy at all…I’ve even forgotten to water them for a while, but they still keep on growing, flowering, and producing.  They were the first things to green up around here after our long winter, and that was a lovely sight to see.  Their white blooms are so cheery!

And we have scores of green strawberries that are growing bigger and redder every day.  Truly, there is nothing better than picking and eating strawberries from a garden after a long day playing in the sprinklers.  BUT!  Imagine my horror when I approached the plants to check everything out and a small bird flew out of the strawberry bed.  Horrified, I confirmed what he was doing in there.

Eating MY strawberries.

What is there to be done about this?  Does anyone have a solution for strawberry theiving birds and keeping them out of a garden?  Are their nets like for mosquitoes?  Bird guards?  Anything? 

Help!