Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spontaneous fun and Red Robin FAIL

  Justin has been in Colorado- Oliven got sick Sunday, so all day Monday I spent time with him reading and playing puzzles which are his favorite activities along with coloring. Needless to say, I was stir crazy by the afternoon. Tuesday was more of the same, we read an 80 page chapter book (The Fantastic Mr. Fox) and then went to the library to read another 15 books (which he claimed by his very favorite part of the day). It is pretty great how passionate he is about reading. I have always loved reading too. By the afternoon I was really looking forward to picking Vander up from Kids Connection (the after school Christian club) so that I could hang out with Carrie and catch up- I really miss our daily morning chats. Anyway, I mentioned that Justin was out of town and she suggested that we hang out for a bit and go out to dinner. I picked Red Robin in Morgan we headed over to their hotel for a half hour while we waited for Peng to get home. We then headed to Red Robin. It was a 25 minute wait to be seated, so the kids ran around outside. After we were seated it took over 50 minutes (and a manager's help) to get our food. Peng and the kids were starving at that point. My salad had no dressing and the chicken in it was so dry that I couldn't swallow it. Several of the sides were missing or wrong.The manager gave us free desserts all around. My kids were thrilled. Oliven told me that it was his best day EVER! The kids had a great time hanging out together and it was great to catch up with my friends. They were planning to stay up late and pick the Walters up from the airport and not go to school the next 3 days.
  Other than having to eat my dessert with a knife because they didn't bring enough silverware and never came back, Vander's warm volcano was as hard as a hockey puck. I couldn't cut through it with a steak knife. Really not cool. I don't think I will go back to that Red Robin ever again. $17 later I felt like they should have paid me for the food we were served.
  The kids were thrilled to go to bed an hour and a half past their bed time on a school night. Ah, the little victories of being a kid. :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our fun weekend

  !!! How exciting! We love Justin and we haven't seen him in way too long. It was VERY exciting and unexpected!!!

What an awesome weekend! Friday night at 8:15pm a knock on the was Sexy Justin
   Saturday morning it rained (not enough, and it cancelled tball, but I'll take any rain we can get), so we headed to Trader Joes and Safeway and they had some fun Halloween themed things set up. Then Saturday night was the Witch's party at Polly Ferguson's house, which is always fun and delicious.
   Sunday, Justin Williams came over for awhile and played games with us. He won all 3 of the games we played and he was very happy about that. We ended the night with Mick and Marisol for Mick's birthday dinner of shrimp scampi and salmon with spinach, followed by banana splits. What a great weekend with friends. The only down side is that Oliven got sick and has a cough. We just need to make sure that nobody is sick for Halloween or Mitch and Katie's wedding this weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eating healthy and listening- why is this soooo hard?!?

  Vander has been giving Justin and I a run for our money...he is really trying to challenge what it means to be a good parent...he only eats his treat (which I only make pretty healthy treats) and his fruit for lunch, then has to eat his veggies and main (like quiche or fish sticks, etc.) when he gets home- how is this possible? Why isn't he starving??? Maybe no more fruit in his lunch... Ahhh...
    The real problem though- the kid does NOT listen!!! He has his own agenda and what we say does not seem to matter to him at all. I know he hears me, but he just doesn't listen! How can you make a person listen? Time out does not seem to work. Justin and I finally yesterday got to the point where we told him if he got up again (after telling him 6 times at least) that he would be in his room the rest of the night. Surprise, surprise- he got up AGAIN!!!! So, I had to police him from 4-7pm in his room while Justin and Oliven went to tee ball. I hope missing it meant something to him because he was VERY high maintenance on time out. It was WAY more punishment for me than him as I was supposed to go exercise. I can only hope he learned something. I asked him what he learned and he looked at me with a questioning face and said, "I'm not supposed to stand up?" REALLY?!!!!???? I told him it was because he hasn't been listening. He was able to regurgitate that to Justin 20 minutes later, but who knows if anything sunk in or if we just wasted our time. AHHH...he is so frustrating! I know he is a good kid and is capable of making good choices, so why isn't he??? I don't expect perfection, but does every day have to be such a power struggle?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin patches

Usually we schedule about 3 of these trips and cancel two and have to reschedule one because of the rain...not this year. No rain in sight and it's still in the 90s like every day- a bit hot for the pumpkin patch, but man I have never seen so many people at the patches, so there's that. I guess the weather is stimulating the economy a bit. We have been twice, once with Oliven's preschool and then once the three of us since I thought Vander should have a chance to go to. After a couple of train rides and looking at pretty much every pumpkin and also going through hay mazes, we have had our fun at the patch this year.

Tee ball

  The boys are playing tee ball and they love it. Justin is enjoying it as well. He has been helping out as the third coach. The boys really like being on the same team for Fall ball (we like that too, because then they have the same schedule for games and practices). Vander is really liking playing 1st base. Their team name is the Power Rangers because they couldn't decide between the Giants and the Dodgers. They are maroon and play at Britton middle school, which is super convenient for Larry and Theresa. They have come to all the games and the boys love that as well. It's been pretty fun.
  Oliven is also in a teeball that my Las Madres friend, Kristin, is running on Thursday mornings and he loves that he gets to play tee ball twice in one day. :) He gets twice the practice playing tee ball and also gets to have some socialization with two different groups of boys.

Then and Now Day

   The first graders are learning the differences between 100 years ago and now. I got a chance to go in and share with the kids about both sides of Vander's family. Theresa let me borrow a picture of her grandparents and tell a bit about them.
Theresa shared with me: George Busch and Myrtle (Olsen) Busch lived on a farm in Hawarden, Iowa.  George was a livestock farmer (swine) and Myrtle was a stay at home Mother to five children.  They lived in Iowa all their lives with Myrtle living to 67 years of age and George to 88. Interesting fact:  The house they lived in had no indoor plumbing, so they used an "outhouse."  After Myrtle's death in 1968, George remarried, and moved to his new wife's house which had indoor plumbing. (And there was a pair of glasses, which ironically are back in style!)
I also got to bring in some old photos and letters from Grandma Gretchen's dad, Charles Ashbaugh, who learned the sugar beet business in Germany and brought it to the US. I had pamphlets and pictures as well as type written letters from the late 1800s. So cool. I also had the books Great Grandma Gertrude used to read to me as a kid that were written in the early 1900s.
   Vander did his compare and contrast project on movies of then and now. He watched a silent Charlie Chaplin movie with Oliven and I and we all really enjoyed it. The teacher asked if he would rather live then or now. He thought for a minute and said, "Then, but I would want to take the money I have with me now back with me." (Movie's used to cost a $0.05 and now they cost $10, that is 200 movies he could watch! Such a clever answer!
   The teacher's put on a Then and Now day and I went in to help. I was at the butter making station. All the kids dressed up and had a great time. They learned croquet, had a tea party, looked at old cars, made apple juice, wrote with a feather pen, and make corn husk dolls. I asked Vander what his favorite was and he said, "Well, I'm sorry mommy, but  I liked the tea party the best, but don't worry yours was second best." It was very sweet, and a fun day.

Our Second Charter School Gala

  I had a lot of fun, it's not really Justin's thing. I bought the signature cocktail, which gave me a chance to win a diamond bracelet (I did not win). I thought the drink would be like $15, but it turns out it was $40, luckily I made friends with the bar tenders, who "accidentally" gave me two more drinks free and for working the VIP table I got a free glass of champagne, so it all worked out. (I gave that last drink away, cause let's be honest, that is way too much alcohol for me!) Anyway, we won a Murder Mystery Party with the principal so that should be fun. I LOVE murder mystery parties...I just hope it's one Justin and I haven't done before. :) Justin and I volunteered for the first couple of hours of the Gala this year and we got tons of compliments on his Batman suspenders and our matching outfits (he wore his yellow pants and I wore my blinged out Batman bracelet.)

Vander's antics

  Sneaky little Vander (reminding me VERY much of sneaky little Freddie as a child) told me the other day that he would like me to leave the room so that he could concentrate and eat his carrots. I knew that he would not be eating them if I left the room- so I gave him the rope to hang himself in order to show him that not only did I know what he was up to, but that he would be punished if and when he decided to do it again. So, I left the room, and, like magic, the carrots disappeared.
I came back into the room less than 2 minutes later. This is how our conversation went:
Vander: I finished them! I told you I just needed to concentrate.
Me: Where are the carrots?
Vander: (with a dumbfounded look) They're in my tummy.
Me: Where are they really?
Vander: What do you mean?
Me: I will give you until the count of 3 to be honest with me, and then you will be in big trouble if you are still lying. 1....2....
Vander: Ok, ok, I'm sorry mommy. I put them down the garbage disposal. I'm so sorry. I know I shouldn't have done it.
This all went down at the same time our sinks keep clogging up. Once I thought I saw squash in one, but that didn't make sense, until Justin found whole grapes in our bathroom sink. Well, it turns out that Vander has been finishing his vegetables after school and when he doesn't want to finish he tells us he has to go to the bathroom so bad, and while he is in there he shoves his chewed up food down the drain. I asked him how many times he has done this- his answer, "at least three in each bathroom sink." Luckily draino cleared the sink drains, but Vander now has lost our trust and has to go to the bathroom BEFORE eating his vegetables. (He eats his lunch veggies at home because he "runs out of time" at school and I made a deal with him that he can have a lunch treat at school if he finishes his lunch veggies. He couldn't eat his whole lunch at school because of running out of time and he felt like he was the only kid without a treat ever day, so that was our compromise.) Ay yi yi!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Justin's adventures

So, the last month has been extraordinarily busy. Justin had 3 business trips, a trip to Tahoe for Mitch's bachelor party, and a 10-day trip to cruise the East Coast with Jon. Colby also came to visit and I went to San Diego all between August 19th and September 29th. I also started tutoring a 4th grade girl twice a's been crazy. I haven't missed Justin so much since I went to Australia with my brothers in 2005...I am SOOO glad to get back to normal, and I know Justin is too. Vander also had a rough time (though I'm not sure he could tell you that or know why, but he missed his dad like crazy). Anyway, here is a brief write up of what Justin was up to over the last month and a half. No more months like this ever please!!! (Justin did the rest of the write up, why he wrote it as if he was me the world will never know)...

Justin was invited to go on a week-long Canadian / New England cruise with Jon at the end of August.  He flew into Montreal two days before the cruise left to connect with Jon and his parents and got a chance to walk around Montreal, climbing Mont Royal, sampling some Montreal smoked meats and indulging in poutine.  He also got a chance to walk around the old town at night, which they did a very good job of accentuating with lights.

Once on board the cruise ship Justin got a chance to visit Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Sydney & Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor, Maine.


Day by Day Highlights:

Day 1: Check-in Quebec City, Quebec. Walked up to the chateau at the top of the hill enjoying the fountains and mix of both old world and modern art

Day 2: Quebec City, Quebec. Watching the movie Chef, poker tournament that was finished in 3 hands, free slot tournament goodies as the winner, daily trivia

Day 3: Sea Day. Playing basketball with Jon and David, working out with Jon, nightly show on ship (singing and dancing)

Day 4: Prince Edward Island. Narrowly missing the downpour of rain, visiting the government buildings on the 150th anniversary of Canada becoming a country, browsing in the game store

Day 5: Sydney, Nova Scotia. Shopping in the terminal, walking around the small town, seeing a giant violin, nightly show on ship (Philippine dancers)

Day 6: Halifax, Nova Scotia. Walking up to the Halifax citadel and touring the facility to learn how soldiers lived in the 1800s, working out with Jon, watching X-Men: Days of Future Past, nightly show on ship (Comedy / Magic show similar to Penn and Teller)

Day 7: Bar Harbor, Maine. Touring and exploring Arcadia National Park, riding the tender boat to get ashore, working out with Jon, nightly show on ship (Broadway songs)


Obviously, the other major thing Justin did was eat on the ship and below he provided a list of everything he ate on the cruise ship:

Day 1

Lunch - cheese cubes, pineapple, beef loin, bok choi, chocolate and strawberry ice cream on a waffle cone

Dinner - salmon tartar, seared scallops, corn and clam chowder, roasted chicken with sausage corn bread stuffing, roasted vegetables, apple streusel, chocolate "brownie" cake


Day 2

Breakfast - smoked salmon, cheddar and jack cheese omelet with sausage and bacon, roasted potatoes, rye toast (2), sticky bun

Lunch - cheese cubes, Thai beef salad, pork in Peking sauce with green beans, egg roll, cheddar and crab soup, strawberry ice cream and pineapple sherbet on a waffle cone

Snacks - chocolate chip cookie, cheese cubes, meat pie

Dinner - smoked fish plate, salt cod and lobster cake, clam chowder, beet risotto with roasted duck on the side, dark chocolate truffle, chocolate croquet, tower of apples over sponge cake


Day 3

Breakfast - smoked salmon eggs Benedict (no hollandaise), with a side of corn beef hash and two hash browns

Lunch - goat cheese and prosciutto, beef loin with mushrooms and pecans and poutin on the side, double scoop of ice cream in waffle cone (3), pineapple, chocolate chip cookies (2)

Dinner - snails in butter garlic, beef carpaccio, seafood medley, Asian consume, beef Wellington, side of marinated flank steak, pineapple crisp, chocolate soufflé, popcorn


Day 4

Breakfast - omelet with bacon, shrimp and cheese with havarti and smoked salmon on top, hash browns and bacon

Lunch - fried rice, Vietnamese lamb, beef with snow peas and green beans, cheese cubes, Asian ribs, salami, prosciutto, bacon and cheese sandwich, strawberry ice cream and black cherry yogurt on a waffle cone

Dinner - warm smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail, chicken noodle soup, crab cake over jalapeño cheese grits, peach crisp, popcorn (3), chocolate covered strawberries (4), brownie (3), chocolate biscotti


Day 5

Breakfast - two poached eggs over crab and smoked salmon English muffins, waffle with strawberries and chocolate sauce

Lunch - pineapple, sushi (2), ginger chicken soup, broccoli, leeks with bacon, cheese burger with guacamole and crispy onions, chocolate ice cream and Oreo yogurt in waffle cone, chocolate chip cookies (2)

Dinner - mussels, crab and shrimp, assorted meats, Caesar salad with anchovies, chili relleños, raspberry sherbet with chocolate ("watermelon" pie), brownie fudge sundae, chocolate avalanche cake


Day 6

Breakfast - waffle with chocolate and berry sauce, two poached eggs with crab and cheese on English muffins, strawberries

Lunch - sushi (3), ramen noodles with chicken and veges (2), Korean ribs (3), pork and veges in sauce, mint n chip and strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone, mint n chip I've cream, mango sorbet and strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone, popcorn (2)

Dinner - jumbo shrimp, sweet breads, duck and sausage gumbo, surf n turf (2 lobster tails), flourless chocolate cake (2), popcorn (2)


Day 7

Breakfast - smoked salmon and havarti, pineapple, waffles with fruit sauce (2)

Lunch - beef loin (2), beef Tagalog and onions, calami and veges, sushi (2), cactus and chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone

Dinner - baked Brie with Apple cranberry sauce, Vietnamese spring roll, duck over bacon, glazed beef with Portobello mushrooms over cheese grits,


Day 8

Breakfast - egg Benedict (no hollandaise) with crab and smoked salmon, pineapple, hash browns, bacon, waffles with chocolate and berry sauce.

Justin also went up to Tahoe for a long weekend for his brother Mitch’s bachelor party.  There was a huge fire in the forest leading up to the mountain but the roads were open so they forged on and ended up having a weekend of playing billiards, beer pong (just for the sport of it, no drinking required), and watching a lot of sports and old movies on TV.  IT was a laid back weekend where Justin got a chance to meet all of his brother’s best friends.

Justin also had quite a few work trips in the past month, starting with a three day trip back east to Bethesda, Maryland, which happened right before his cruise with Jon, then quickly followed by a three day trip to Denver on Sept 15-17 and another two day trip back to Denver the following week on Sept 23-24.  He got back just in time for me to head down to San Diego on Sept 25th.