Tag Archives: Spending time with family

I Should Have Known Better

22 Dec

Relatives coming to town should be a joyous occasion. You should be excited for their arrival. Excited.

But, no.  Stress … Stress is what consumed my Guat mind and body. The mental and emotional strain infested my being as project sister-coming-to-town was initiated.

7:00 A.M. Mother comes in and announces that sister is coming to town.

7:01 A.M. I know this already as my sister, A.K.A. Queen of the Nile, informed me that I was to pick her up promptly at 7:00 P.M. Promptly.

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I had my day planned out already. The entire day revolved around her arrival and making sure she wouldn’t sass me if I arrived late for any reason. On time. I needed to be on time and leave the house presentable for her. My whole mission was to avoid the older sister attitude. Does that ever happen to anybody else? You spend the whole day trying to prevent a hostile situation because you know it’ll burn  you out. Plus it adds to your gray hair. Yeah that was my mission. Prevent hostile Queen of the Nile encounter.

I tried to give myself a two-to-three hour window to clean the place. Baby’s nap time … that’s when operation Mop&Glo-Comet-Simple Green would commence. My son would work on his puzzles, monster trucks, or Curious George computer adventures, while I swept, vacuumed, mopped, washed, and scrubbed.

But prior to all this domesticated fun and games, I was to go to the cemetery and decorate my dad’s site with ornaments and a mini tree — you know bring a little Christmas spirit his way, this would be followed by a trip to the post office to mail off my Christmas-Happy New Year’s cards to my local buddies, then it would be off to the park to hang out in the sandbox and catch some seesaw, slides action, then back home for lunch.

But I should have known better. I really should have.

8:01 A.M. As I roll out of bed I find clean laundry, which I had folded the night before, evenly distributed between the floor pile, the top-of the dresser pile, the mix-it-up with the dirty hamper pile, and the under-the-bed pile.

Needless to say I was a little burned out that my late night efforts to fold all my clothes, my son’s clothes and my daughter’s clothes would be effected by my mom “watching” my one year old while I slept an extra thirty minutes.

Mom left to work, I exhaled loudly and began tackling the hurricane of clothes once again, but the kids didn’t mind as they got an hour of Saturday morning cartoons under their belt. After a late breakfast, I rushed out the door.

10:20 A.M. On my way to the cemetery my mom informs me that she can not make a wholesale delivery, because she doesn’t want to leave the store. The store wouldn’t be unattended. She had three workers there. She just didn’t want to leave her supervisory role at the time. I needed to drive forty minutes to the shop, pick up the chicken and drive it over to the restaurant to drop it off.

What time?

Yeah .. the baby’s nap time. She’s aware of the kids’ schedule. She’s aware of how sleep deprived I am and how when the baby actually decides to listen to me during the day and take a nap I feel victorious. I feel Woo-hoo! It’s a time when I get to eat lunch, clean up the tsunami of toys sprawled across the floor, wash dishes, play with my son, or perhaps even take a shower if my son decides to take a nap. Nap time is a cherished event for all worn-out defeated parents. And those of you who rob of us this luxury should really be penalized in some form. I don’t care who you are, you should suffer some consequence.

But this did not happen.

So I shortened my stay at the cemetery, picked up my cards at the stationery store, did not address them or deliver them, and reluctantly picked up a sandwich and french fries from the deli so the kids could eat lunch in the car (never a good idea as bread crumbs and parts of mayonnaise, salami and french fries always find their way to the floor mats, back seats, and nooks and crannies of the car).

12:25 P.M. Usually nap time. But drove to the shop.

1:05 P.M. Arrived in a salami and mayonnaise smelling vehicle.

1:10 P.M. Left with 30 pounds of chicken to be delivered.

1:35 P.M. Daughter, in a cranky mood for the last ten minutes, finally falls asleep. Get to the restaurant, make the delivery, and head back home.

2:10 P.M. Arrive home. Try to sneakily take baby out of her car seat and continue the napping experience, but failed as the neighbor’s dog begins to bark. I take her inside and try to put her back to sleep for the next fifteen minutes … denied. She’s up and running.

2:25 P.M. Could really use some chocolate right about now.

2:26 P.M. Try and begin Operation Mop&Glo-Comet-Simple Green on the first floor. It’s hard to do while carrying a baby in your arms, but I think my biceps are getting up to body-builder status.

2:30 P.M. They want a snack. Fruit. We ran out of fruit. But they want fruit. But we don’t have any. But they want it. Field trip to the grocery store.

3:30 P.M. Baby falls asleep in the car again. No fruit for her. I take her out successfully and put her in the crib. I fix my son a snack and commence the cleaning phase.

4:00 P.M. Baby wakes up.

4:01 P.M. Dizzy from all the cleaning, I decide it’s time to go to the post office, and drop off the cards before they close at five.

4:20 P.M. Arrive at post office. It closes at four on Saturdays. I should have known. I exhale and mail the cards anyway.

4:40 P.M. Return home.  I begin emptying out the car so that my sister, Queen of the Nile, isn’t burned out from the toy clutter.  But according to my son, it’s family play time so I need to go inside.

5:20 P.M. My dude comes home from work and just as I am informing him that he needs to assist me during the Comet phase of this operation. My mom calls. Says she has run out of chicken. Can my dude go get chicken from the distributor, before they close at six, and then drive all the way over to the shop to deliver it.

I remind her that Queen of the Nile arrives at 7:00 P.M. and that she gets a little hostile when people are not on time. I remind her that I can’t take the kids with me, because my sister and her family have brought six ginormous suitcases. She reminds me that they’ve run out of chicken and that she’s pretty hostile.  He leaves, kids finish dinner, then watch some Nickelodeon while I continue my cleaning project.

As the clock winds down, I feel like one of those Price Is Right contestants scrambling to finish before time runs out, only I don’t get prize.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

6:57 p.m. He returns.

6:57 p.m. I’m out the door.

I’m lucky that baggage claim takes forever. I’m lucky we only live fifteen minutes away from the airport.

7:18 p.m. I pull into the airport, she’s standing outside with her entourage and baggage. I eat a piece of chocolate, take a deep breath, and open the door.

She’s not smiling, but she’s not hostile either.

Success.

I Felt Like We Had a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Adventure With Goldfish Crackers

27 Aug

As with any parent, your kids wake you up at the crack of dawn ready to conquer the world, when all you’re ready for is to lie in defeat, under the covers and wishing kids had a snooze button.

But I thought about my recent objective — my Happiness Project — my quest for a better parenting adventure and childhood experience for my son. I decided to go all out Baseball, museum and music. I felt like we had a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off field trip, minus the awesome car, but with plenty of Goldfish Crackers.

We played a little baseball on the grassy area down the street. I was pitching, my one-year old daughter was catching, and my son was batting. Apparently I need to work on my pitching skills. He hit many home runs and grand salamis and despite being on my team, my daughter gave him the baby high-five after each run.

Once we finished the game, we journeyed to the museum. I thought about taking him to a children’s museum, but seeing how it was the weekend I really didn’t feel like being overrun by hundreds of toddlers. A children’s museum is really a week day outing.

So instead I took him another museum, one that primarily features, paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs.

And I know some of you may be thinking, you suck. How could you do that to your kid? But this museum had three features I knew my son would enjoy.

My son … the conductor of the museum train ride

First and probably the best: a train. Well not really a train, more like a long tram ride from the parking structure to the museum itself. He’s never been on the subway or a train that didn’t house cartoon characters, so this tram ride was the highlight of his trip. He was so excited to sit on the tram, which we called a train. He decided to sit in the front car, so that he could be the conductor. We were fortunate enough to be his assistant engineers and check out the postcard views. We rode it twice.

Second: The Family Room, which is a small exhibit that features hands-on activities that expose kids to different types of art. We made masks that were supposed to be of artistic caliber, but apparently he strongly felt that they resembled Optimus Prime from The Transformers book we read at the library. He drew some creative squiggles on an art wall, then checked out the mirror display.

Building art with his sister and new friend.

But his favorite had to be creating the sculpture  that resembled the giant one at the front of the museum. He met a new friend, Jonah, in this part of the exhibit. They built, then destroyed. Built and destroyed. This cycle continued for about thirty minutes. His little sister participated in the destroying part.

After all this exploring in The Family Room we also managed to dive into The Art Lab where he created a fine abstract piece from colorful clay.

Third: The Gardens. My son is all about the outdoors and exploring it like he’s Go! Diego Go! so I knew he’d enjoy the gardens. But we were very pleasantly surprised and amazed by all the landscaping skills of these gardening architects. We wandered through the maze of flowers, plants, bridges, and walkways and felt very in tune and appreciative with nature.

The well-known maze at the center of the garden.

My son exploring the gardens in his four-year old way … racing.

The iron sculptures holding these flowers captured our eyes.

After exploring the garden and eating lunch al fresco we headed back to the tram ride, where my son rode in the front once more. He enjoyed it so much that he made a request.

“Mom, can we come back to the train museum again?”

I was happy my experiment worked. Everyone, including my other half  enjoyed something from the museum.

We ended our Ferris Bueller’s Day Off adventure with some singing and dancing. And no it wasn’t on a parade float singing Danke Shoen or Twist and Shout. Nor was it the Itsy Bitsy Spider. It was Payphone by Maroon 5 and something called You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful by One Direction. My son held his pretend microphone and rocked out.

Baseball, museum, and singing. Our day was done. Viva Ferris.

Dozens of Argentinean and Chilean Penguins. Eight Stamps. One Nerd. And One Bike.

19 Jul

Today brought together a motley crew of highlights that seemed to blend together at the end of the day and make me smile. It was a fun-filled day, officially my son’s fourth birthday, and an awesome adventure for the nerd in me at The Aquarium of The Pacific.

The Aquarium

I mean really Argentinean and Chilean Penguins? I had no idea that penguins existed outside of arctic, glacier-filled environments, and said stuff like “Oye, todo bien, Che?”

I mean who knew? The Aquarium people knew. They got skills. Mad penguin and ocean animal skills.

Stuff like that seemed to fascinate me, it’s the nerd in me. Apparently there are seventeen kinds of penguins on Earth and most of them live in temperate regions. The ones I got to hang out with today were the Magellanic Penguins, which sadly happen to be an endangered species. I’m glad I got a chance to hang out with the Oye Che penguins.

The Penguins

But this little fact wasn’t the top contributor to my escalating nerd factor of the day. It was the stamps. The eight stamps. White Sea Bass, Pacific Seahorse, Collard Aracari, Whitetip Reef Shark, Magellanic Penguins, Anchovy, Dragon Sea Moth, and the Bonnethead Shark. I mean even before I put my hands on the Map & Visitor Guide I was vaguely familiar with half of these creatures, but by the end of the day I happen to know certain Trivial Pursuit-Jeopardy! type of information. It happens when the nerd comes out. It happens when you get stamp crazy.

As soon as I got that Map & Visitor Guide it was on. I saw the empty circles hanging out on the top-right corner of the pages. I mean I wasn’t a middle-school student trying to finish an Earth Science assignment for my third period teacher. I wasn’t going to get a prize from the aquarium volunteers for getting all eight stamps. But I was still on a mission to get all of the embossing stamps on my map and visitor guide. My son found this scavenger hunt pretty enjoyable, but in truth it was the nerd in me that enjoyed it too. Maybe more than my son.

At the end of the day I was missing just one: The Pacific Seahorse. It was past lunch time. Past nap time. But the nerd in me overpowered the mom in me and I took an extra five minutes to return to the Southern California Baja Gallery to look for the embossing station. And there it was hanging out by the exhibit, being used by elementary and middle school students. I was last in a line of three.

The Guide

As I finished getting the last stamp in my book, I felt a woo-hoo! resonate in my Pointdexter soul. I smiled, excited to tell my son who was hanging out by the Nemo tropical fish tank. As I turned to see other kids waiting to use the station I felt a little out-of-place. But then I noticed two adults holding onto their visitor guides. Page 11 sticking out, ready to get the stamp and then it was all good, because the visitor guide brought out the nerd in everybody.

And yes he was as excited. My son was as excited as I’d hoped he’d be. Maybe not as excited as when he got his miniature scuba diving guy for the bathtub, but nevertheless excited. Mission complete.

But his birthday wasn’t quite over yet we stopped by Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which is awesome by the way. So awesome that I might have to write a separate post on this restaurant tomorrow. They sang him happy birthday and he dove into a hot fudge sundae.

But that wasn’t even the best part …

The Red Racer

We made our way through traffic, which sort of dazed the excitement factor, and finally made it home. And there it was sitting in the patio waiting for him.

A red Specialized super awesome bike, to replace the one they stole. No SpiderMan decals this time, just a clean read bike. And an ecstatic four-year old with his Lightning McQueen helmet.

Dozens of Argentinean and Chilean Penguins. Eight stamps. One nerd. And one bike. This is what my son got for his fourth birthday.