Wednesday, August 09, 2017

We went to California, Part 3

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Well, since the trip had included an event for Ross (soccer), for the big boys (Harry Potter) we figured we'd better do something just for Quinn.  That meant on our last full day of vacation, we would drive to San Diego (and get there faster than it took us to get to Universal) and take Quinn to Sea World.

We'd been watching Sea World commercials on TV for a while, and Quinn seemed pretty into it, but he was so excited once we got there.  He got a map, and we let him direct the day - wherever Quinn wanted to go we went.  We started with the dolphin show, then crossed the park to the penguins and arctic animals, then crossed the park again to the seals and sea lions.  He had us marching back and forth all day long.  We walked more at Sea World than the previous day at Universal Studios.  Phew!

There were some definite highlights of the day.  In no particular order:
Walrus are insanely huge and gigantic animals and it was fun to see one so close.

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The boys fed sea lions - they touched dead fish and Elliott had a fish stolen out of his hand from a very daring bird.

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We saw a sea lion, killer whale, dolphin and sea turtle poop in the water.  Always a highlight of any boy experience.

Quinn grinned ear to ear the entire Orca show.  Killer whales are amazing majestic animals.  They were my favorite.  I could have sat and watched them swim all day long.

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Ross and the big boys rode the big rides - getting soaking wet on one of them and Quinn thought it was pretty funny that his dad looked like he'd pee'd his pants.

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The boys touched horseshoe crabs, small sharks and other sea creatures.

The sea lion show was fun and the boys saw baby hammerhead sharks.

One thing that I thought was pretty cool at Sea World had nothing to do with aquatic creatures.  If you buy a souvenir cup at the park, you can refill it for free at any self-serve food kiosk for the entire day.  We bought two $12 souvenir cups (with lids and straws) and easily filled each of them 10 times.  That was a bargain!

San Diego is a great town.  The weather was a perfect 73 all day.  The park wasn't too crowded and the lines for attractions weren't too long.  Sea World is really a great way to spend a day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

We went to California, Part 2

On the second full day of our vacation, Thursday I think, we headed to Universal Studios.  When we decided to take the trip for the soccer game, we figured that we might as well take a trip to Universal Studios so that Elliott and Wyatt's Harry Potter dreams could come true.  The night we told the boys about the trip, about a week before we left, Elliott looked like maybe he was going to stop breathing when he learned of the trip to HP land.

I'm pretty sure it didn't disappoint.

LA traffic is rotten, and it took us, no joke, 2 hours to travel I think 26 miles through the heart of LA and Hollywood to even get to the Universal Studios parking structure.  Man alive, LA traffic is bad.  We saw the Hollywood sign, the big planetarium on the hill, the Staples Center so it was a pretty interesting and scenic drive, especially looking at all the dejected and depressed single car drivers who have to sit in that traffic every single day of their lives.

But, as soon as we got out of the car and headed to Universal, it was worth it.  The boys were so excited.  A good friend of mine told us that we needed to head straight to Harry Potter, ride the ride and then get our wands.  Well, the main ride already had a 70 minute wait, so we skipped that, rode the smaller roller coaster and then headed to Olivander's wand shop's....line.  About 20 minutes later, we had the greatest experience of the day.

We were led into a small room and instructed that we would be entering another small room, and that it was imperative we listen to all instructions.  Once in that second room, we were met by a female wizard who talked to us about the importance of wand selection and that a wand chooses it's owner, not an owner choosing a wand.  As she spoke, she wandered the room, looking for a perfect young muggle/wizard to help select a wand.

She chose Elliott.  He didn't quite know what to do, and wanted to play it cool, but I know he was melting a little on the inside.  After three wands and three spells, Elliott found his wand and we were all released into the actual wand store which was very small and very crowded.  The other boys selected their wands, we paid for our wands and were on our way to cast magic spells throughout the park.  It was a pretty fun morning.

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The rest of our day at Universal is a blur.  It was pretty crowded, very hot and sweaty, and very expensive.  It felt more expensive than Disneyland, but I'm not sure that it was - probably the same.  We rode all the rides the boys were big enough/old enough/mature enough to ride (no mummy and no walking dead).  We did the tram, saw some very strange people, listened to a lot of languages.

My "highlight" of the day was getting blasted in the face with a wall of water on the Jurassic Park ride.  My hair was drenched.  My make-up removed.  I was furious.  I might have cried a little and thought about marching to the front of the park and demanding my money back.  After I had to use a bathroom hand dryer to dry my hair a bit with a woman standing and staring and laughing at me the whole time, I finally calmed down a bit.  If the only person that throws a fit at a theme park is the mom, I guess you call it a good day?

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We opened and closed the park, and the boys had fun so it was all worth it - even if I looked like a haggard old woman for the entire day.  I guess that means I'll do just about anything to see all my boys (Ross included) happy.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

We went to California, Part 1

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Everything our little family does is done quickly and our vacations are no exception.  In the spring, Ross found out about a soccer game between Manchester City and Real Madrid being played in Los Angeles in the Summer and a trip was born.

We had three days, book ended by half days of travel, to get as much sight-seeing and fun in as we could.  Now, nearly a week later, I'm still tired.

We left on a Tuesday afternoon and I realized that we always leave for vacations, at least when we are flying, and it's really stressful so in the future, we need to leave in the morning or at least mid day, not 4 pm.

We arrived at the Long Beach airport.  We found the house we were renting and I had a mini panic attack that it was too hot and too musty and it wasn't going to work.  After dinner at Wahoo's I calmed down a bit.  It was a cute but very old house with bad wifi, no TV (even though it was promised and yes we complained), and one bathroom.  But, we survived.

Day two had us up bright and early in the morning to head along the Pacific Coast Highway to Crystal Cove State Park Beach.  It's my new favorite.  We had the beach to ourselves for a very long time and the boys had so much fun playing in the water, hunting for crabs and urchins in the tide pools and getting covered in sand.  We wrapped up the morning with a walk up a hundred or so stairs to Ruby's Diner Shake Shack and it wad delicious.  The beach is just so calming and great.


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After that, we headed back to the house, got cleaned up and drove into Los Angeles to go to the LaBrea Tar Pits.  Pretty cool.  Smelled like asphalt.  Boys had fun.

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We ate a quick snack at the Farmer's Market food place at the Grove shopping center, found a MUJI for me to buy notebooks to my hearts contentment and then headed to the soccer game at the LA Colosseum.

The Colosseum is incredibly old, outdated, unsafe, and gross.  The seats were rusty and had holes and were covered in spider webs.  Quinn wouldn't even sit in his and spent the first half of the game on my lap.  There were also no railings anywhere in the stadium.  When the stairs are THAT steep, and everyone is THAT drunk, you'd figure some railings would come in handy (get it, handy!) .   We however, persevered and watched the game.

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We were directly across the aisle from a huge contingency of Man City fans, which made Ross pretty happy.  They were fairly calm the first half and we only endured a little rowdy behavoir.  That was however made up for in the second half.  People without seats in the section were filling the stairs (fire hazard), the 32 oz beers in souvenir cups were flowing and the borderline appropriate songs were being sung.  Once Man City was up 3-0, I convinced Ross that we could leave.  It was a pretty interesting experience and when I left to use the restroom in the middle of the second half, I ratted out all those crazy fans as a fire hazard to the first security person I could find.

Rule follower I am.

The great thing about going to a soccer match that doesn't start at 8:30 pm, when your kids brains thing it's 9:30 pm is that everyone falls asleep on the way back to the rental and minus the fact that the house was pretty warm, slept like babies for the whole night.

Day 1 was a victory!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An update on Grandpa

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My grandpa has seen better days.  Today, he is an outpatient at the Riverton Hospital, getting a blood transfusion.  The last two weeks he has been residing at the Legacy Village Rehabilitation Center because of a hospital stay, and a feeding tube (he never passes the swallow tests).  The two weeks (or maybe just 10 days) before that, he was in the hospital.  He had a bad infection, stemming from a UTI because of a catheter and had two heart attacks and got a pace maker.

Phew.

The months prior to the last several weeks haven't been so great either.

But, there he is, plugging along, unwilling to give in or give up.  He keeps fighting, to stay with us for another day.

I'm not the best grand-daughter - it's really hard for me to visit.  It's hard for me to see people sick and weak - I want my memories of them to always be strong and healthy.  Knowing that my grandpa isn't doing well is also hard because when he decides it's finally time to leave us (hopefully not too soon), then that's it for me in the grandparent department.  I realize that I'm pretty lucky that at 39 years old, I've still got a grandparent alive to learn from and love.  But, it's touchy for me none the less.

Since January, I've been writing my grandpa letters.  I have written a letter every single week, not missing one.  He is my pen pal, only, a pen pal that doesn't write back.  It's a little one sided I suppose, but I sort of like it that way.  I know he likes to read, and I it's a good way for me to talk to him, because I've struggled with that my whole life, too.

My grandpa is stoic.  He is strong and brave.  He is faithful and courageous.  During my life, he has shared opinions, wisdom and stories of his life with me...mostly through my grandma but on a good day, he can tell some tales.

On Monday, we were driving home from swimming lessons and I had the following conversation with Quinn.  It's a little morbid, but he's four and a half and like all almost 5 year olds, he only speaks the truth.

Q: Mom, is Great Grandpa at home or still in the place?
M:  He is still in the place, but he is doing okay.  Should we go and visit him?
Q:  Yes, we should visit him.
M:  Should we draw him some pictures to decorate his room at the place?
Q:  Yes, I want to make him a card.  How do you spell, "I'm glad you're not dead!"

(Elliott and Wyatt laughing hysterically)
M:  Well, maybe we should say, "I'm glad you are still alive, instead?"
Q:  No, mom.  I'm glad he is not dead.

Well, Quinner.  So am I.

So.  Am. I.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spring sports

June is almost over.

The boys last day of school is June 30.

And spring sports?  They just about blew up this tired mama's brain.

Quinn played t-ball with cousin Jack.  Ross was the coach.  He did a great job always trying really hard and I don't think he ever had to use the tee, always hitting one of his dad's pitches.  I was very proud of him, even though he called every game "soccer practice" all season.

Wyatt played soccer on a team with a bunch of friends from school.  He had fun and played especially hard when grandma or grandpa were there to watch him.   He also played kid pitch baseball and it was mostly a disaster.  His team was very small (in stature and skill), very young, and he had a first time coach - recipe for...very LONG baseball games.  Add in all the spring rain-outs, it felt like the season was never. going. to. end.  Oh, and he pitched many innings in many games.  He did his best, and I'm proud of him for that, but this child of mine maybe isn't destined to be a pitcher.

Baseball did, in-spite of everything, end on a win.  The second win of the season.  Want to know something good about being on the bad news bears?  No post season tournaments.

Elliott played spring soccer.  He seemed to be the glue that held his team together, most games only sitting at half-time.  His team had its struggles in the spring, losing two players and their dads who were the assistant coaches.  I'm not sure what happened there, but it's hard to win games when you lose kids from the team and the majority of the rest of the team doesn't come to practice.  But, they ended strong and Elliott did a great job.

I tell my boys the exact same thing before every single game:  win or lose, you need to be able to walk off the field knowing that you did your best.  Elliott has figured this out.  Wyatt, well Wyatt is still working on it.

And, it is indicative of the craziness of spring sports that I failed to take any pictures of Elliott playing soccer; took my nice camera to Wyatt's last baseball game to take pictures and realized when I got there that I left the memory card at home; and managed to get a few pictures of Quinn at one of his last games.

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Now - with summer here officially (summer solstice yesterday) we are knee deep in soccer.  Elliott and Wyatt are both on competitive soccer teams for USA (Utah Soccer Association) soccer.  I'm finally getting over the amount of money we've paid for the boys to play - and now I need to get over the summer practice and tournament schedule.

Good thing I like these kids.  A lot!


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