Monday, September 28, 2009

Wish Granted

Since well before her 5th birthday Sydney has wanted a surprise birthday party. I didn't take her too seriously last summer when I planned her 5th birthday party. Once we had that princess party in the planning stages, she plaintively asked me "can I have a surprise party for my SIXTH birthday?" She's been reminding me over the last year.

This summer, I told her that she could have a SMALL surprise birthday party or a BIG non surprise class birthday party. She played into my manipulation and agreed to a big class party. We were encouraging that option only because she is so very quiet at school and we wanted to give her a chance to have her classmates get to know her. So I got to feeling a little guilty about squelching her desire for a surprise party.

So I came up with the brainstorm of inviting her best friend VT and the whole T family over for a surprise soiree. Which is what we set to do. We had a plan to have the T family over while Husband and Sydney were out picking up wine and pizza. Then birthday girl would come home to the shouts of "SURPRISE!!".

Sydney's spidey senses much have been up because she saw her parents madly cleaning up the house, which we only do with such ferocity when we are having company over. She asked "why are you guys cleaning up?" We made up some very bad excuse.

When C, VT's Mom and my capital G Girlfriend, phoned just as they were leaving home Sydney asked "who were you talking to on the phone?"

"Oma", I lied.

"You weren't on the phone for long."

"No, it was a quick call."

"What were you talking about?", she persisted.

"Oma wanted to ask me something."

"What?" She is SO going to be a lawyer.

"She wanted to know when she and Opa could take you out for your birthday lunch."

The whole T family jumped on board with great enthusiasm for the project and arrived promptly after ensuring that Sydney had left the house with Daddy. They helped blow up balloons, set the table and I think it's fair to say Jackson and the three T sisters displayed MUCH excitement for the endeavor. I feared Sydney would hear the squeals of delight from the pizza shop a kilometer away.

It was all worth it:
video

We had all the elements of a birthday party.
Games:
A few presents:
Pizza for 9 in the dining room:
Some cake:
Some chatting with a Girlfriend:
So nice to have friends where the kids love to be together as much as the parents!

And I must say that it was very satisfying to my soul to have done something the Girlie Goo wanted so very very much. And that easily gets over my guilt for having BOUGHT a store made cake and not baked my own as I always do.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What Do You Do ...

... if you're having a quiet post Disneyland weekend, and Mommy is upstairs catching up on the new TV season and Daddy is away at a conference??

Naturally, you'd make bar graphs.
You'd chart the relative height in all family members:
Then you'd compare the lateness of the birthdays in the year:
And then how much money everyone has:
And if you're a little sister, you'd naturally join in:
And when you're tired of bar graphs you move to X Y axis:
I guess we should not be surprised we are raising math and science geeks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Very Sweet Half Dozen

Sydney turned SIX whilst we were in Disneyland. We didn't plan it that way. We booked the trip for the few days that fit in between the first weeks of school and Husband's trip to Montreal for work. And we had to travel before the end of September to take advantage of the Kids Fly Free promotion.

The days started a little iffy as she had been fighting a cold, which had zapped her energy. She had been a trooper the previous two days, with a little help from Mommy and Daddy. On her birthday she excitedly waited with her "Happy Birthday" button which elicits birthday wishes from strangers and cast members alike. The minute we walked through the Disney gates she said "I can't walk anymore". We rented her a stroller, or as we called it a birthday chariot. Husband and I were also flagging a little and we could not imagine carrying her in near 100 degree heat for the entire day. She initially resisted the stroller until Jackson said he would ride in it and then it seemed to be okay.

She managed the morning fine, meeting Tinker Bell and another Pixie and enjoyed a few rides. She hit the wall in the afternoon so Husband took her back to the hotel for a rest before the main event at dinner. The princess meal.

We traditionally go out for a family birthday dinner (by family, meaning the 4 of us). So we booked the Princess meal as this year's celebration. Unfortunately, the nap she had back in the hotel did not rejuvenate her in the least. She lay with her head on my lap until the royal page announced the arrival of a princess. She would get up and pose for a picture and then resume the head-in-lap position. She didn't eat any dinner. Still, I think she was pleased.

Ariel was the official hostess:
Cinderella was the most princess-like. Very gracious and charming. She was and continues to be Sydney's favourite.Belle was very sweet.
Aurora, or Sleeping Beauty, was a bit of a diva. I asked her to bend down so I could get a close up of her and Sydney and she said in a fake high pitched give-princesses-a-bad-name voice "Oh, but then you wouldn't see my beautiful dress".
Snow White gets top marks for trying to elicit an acknowledgement from Jackson. She tried hard and only got a flicker of a nod when she mentioned something about pirates.
What is the one thing which caused Sydney to spring to life??
Dessert! Birthday cake served in a special princess chest!
p.s. the LAST post about Disneyland, I promise!

Top Five

Top Five Things that Surprised Me About Disneyland:

1. It seemed smaller than I imagined. Fantasyland to Critter Country seemed like miles away on the map, but when we started walking we were there in no time.

2. It was much cleaner than I thought possible, given the crowds. I expected overflowing garbage and litter and disgusting bathrooms. While the bathrooms did seem like busy public bathrooms, I don't recall seeing any litter and the garbage cans were emptied religiously.

3. Jackson is now way too cool for princesses. We went to a princess meal, primarily for Sydney. While I didn't expect Jackson to have long embraces with the royals, I did expect he might look, smile or acknowledge their existence. He definitely wasn't posing for any pictures.

4. My kids did not ask for toys or candy. Pretty much every major ride had a gift shop jammed with toys and lollipops the size of their heads. They walked right through as if they didn't see them. On Tuesday we were given a Disney gift card with $62 for Sydney's birthday (in lieu of the birthday free entry since we had a 5 day pass). We told the kids they each could spend $31 on whatever they wanted. The only limitation we gave them was no gigantic things that couldn't be checked or easily carried onto the plane -- like the 4 foot stick with a skull on the end of it that Jackson was eyeing in the Indiana Jones shop. They carefully considered their options with Sydney choosing a Marie stuffie (Aristocats) and a Tinker Bell bracelet and Jackson opting for a stuffed snaked (Indiana Jones) and a Star Wars laser gun.

5. I actually managed to leave Jackson to go to the bathroom leaving him alone TWICE. I rarely do this at home and only if he is going to the bathroom himself. He is almost 8, after all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Personal Growth

Quite apart from enjoying rides, smiles and warm experiences with my kids, Disneyland caused me to grow, and not just at my mid-section, though the proliferation of fried food likely also contributed to that.

We were at the parking lot at the airport in Vancouver and waiting for the machine to spit out a ticket and Jackson told us he was tired of waiting, and the wait was about 10 seconds. We still had to wait for the shuttle to the terminal, wait to drop off our bags, wait for security twice, wait for customs and then wait to board the aircraft and then wait to take off. And that was all before we darkened Mickey's door. WHAT HAVE WE GOT OURSELVES INTO?

However, the traveling went surprisingly well. I might even go so far as to say that I am no longer afraid to travel with the kids. Both of them were model citizens during the flight. I did have to remind Jackson about 372 times not to press his feet against the seat ahead of him, something the parents of little Liam sitting behind me neglected to do -- I believe I could have made his shoe impression from my back by the time we arrived at LAX. But the J Boy actually listened about 370 of the times. A man in the row ahead stood up at the end of the flight and said he didn't even know Jackson was behind him! High praise indeed.

We were all a little impatient waiting for the "Disneyland Resort Express Shuttle", at LAX, not to be confused with 5 other kinds of shuttles with the words "Disneyland" emblazoned across the door. Our shuttle was scheduled to come every 30 minutes and as luck would have it, we waited 29 minutes. But the drive in was faster than we expected so we arrived at our hotel earlier than I had anticipated.

As I was checking us into the hotel, I felt such a high. It had all come together. Here we were, at the quietest time of the year at Disneyland. The traveling day had been superb. So I pressed my luck "is Disneyland busy this time of year?" I asked the hotel clerk. I know, I was really fishing.

"Not today but from Sunday till Tuesday it will be very busy. A HUGE conference is coming into town." Our three full days at Disneyland were Sunday till Tuesday.

I was deflated.

We got to our room and realized that we left one DS stylus on the bus. We wondered how we would cope with one stylus for 2 DS's for 5 more days. In 5 minutes, it felt like the entire vacation had turned south. The kids were hyper and non responsive as we tried to get them into shorts and pack our bags for our first taste of Disneyland. Husband and I oozed stress.

We entered the gates per my detailed, personalized touring plan and were surprised to run into the parade, which was on my list but I had not yet pencilled in how we would see it. We watched a couple minutes and then headed as planned for Tomorrowland where we found ZERO lineups for 2 of the most popular rides (Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters and Star Tours). We then waited close to 30 minutes for Autopia (where the kids drive cars). We found having just done 2 attractions with no lineup, the kids tolerated a lineup just fine. They were surprisingly good amusing themselves.

We then jumped on the train to head to Fantasyland (which I hadn't yet figured out was 20 steps away from where we were). We planned to get dinner and discovered there is no food in Fanstasyland, so we exited at New Orleans Square and grabbed a very expensive supper even before you factor in the fact that we ordered too much and had to throw a lot away.

We headed to some attractions in the vicinity only to find that Pirates of the Caribbean was closed temporarily. So was the Dumbo elephant ride and a couple others. When we discovered that even the railroad was shut down we imagined a glitch in the Disney power grid. Unfortunately, by then the Girlie Goo was done walking. We had taken a lot of extra steps to find these rides shut down so our frustration built. Husband offered to take Sydney back to the hotel (on his shoulders).

I must admit it felt like everything was spiralling out of my control as I definitely did not have "Sydney return to hotel at 6 pm" written on my touring plan, which by the way I referred to a lot, having brought it in a page protector, much like 4 different maps and my precious list of "MUST DO's".

It was here that I took a deep breath. I had the J Boy with me and we decided to do some rides that Sydney wouldn't or couldn't go on. We headed to Indiana Jones and the 40 minute lineup, which is short by Disney's standards, but was the longest we waited. I held the hand of my excited 7 year old and truly savoured the experience of being with him. For those that do not know this ride, there is a long underground tunnel and is much like the tunnels in the movies, before you get to the ride. There are tikis, skulls and carvings in the stones. It's all very realistic.

Jackson thought that the walk through the tunnel WAS the attraction. And here's the best part: he was THRILLED!! I was bursting with pride that what seemed like a mile long walk underground, had him spellbound as opposed to complaining. He was beside himself when he actually took the ride. We then found our way to Pirates of the Caribbean which had no line up since it had been closed for about an hour.

Sunday morning we followed the advice to arrive early to the park and enjoyed the Finding Nemo Submarine ride with no lineup. It is the hardest ride to get on. We got in a few more rides before the lineups started to accumulate (it was Sunday after all). We then divided into boys and girls with the boys heading to roller coaster type rides while the girls did the princess thing. At noon we headed back to the hotel for a long break.

Late afternoon we went to the California Adventure parkand experience what I can only say was magical timing for the rest of the day. We saw the Pixar parade, then the Monsters Inc. ride with no lineup. We got to see the Aladdin show with minutes to spare, with Husband getting Fastpasses to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Fastpasses entitled you to enter a very short line but only one is available at a time). After Aladdin we did the Tower of Terror and then just snuck into the Disney Animation shows just before the park closed. We then returned to Disneyland and arrive just in time for a 3D movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. We jumped on the train to see the laser light show, Fantasmic and got the last seats available. We enjoyed the fireworks as we walked through the park.

Monday was more of the same as we saw everything we wanted to in California Adenture, with no lineups except 15 minutes at the very popular and new Toy Story 3D attraction.

Then we headed back to Disneyland via the Monorail for the Jedi Training Academy. This is where they pick about 30 kids from the audience to train them to be Jedi. Jackson DESPERATELY wanted to be chosen which of course meant Sydney DESPERATELY wanted to be chosen. I had consulted some other Disney Moms and read some tips on how to be picked. Have kids wear hats or something distinctive so they can say "boy in the chartreuse baseball cap or girl with the lavender boa". Of course we had no such distinctive clothing on us.

We took our space in the front row and hoped for the best. I must admit, even though I try not to pray about trivial things, I did pray that they would BOTH be picked (I might add, the reason I don't pray about trivial things is not because I believe those things aren't important to God, but because it's important for ME to understand and appreciate the things that really matter). Husband and I were sitting in the front row as well and then decided, as it was getting very crowded, we'd back up to leave room for other children as neither of us had any burning desire to become Jedi (or at least that we would admit to).

As it turns out only one boy took our spot so our kids were standing almost on their own and were easy to pick out. They were picked 4th and 5th and some of you on the West Coast may have heard or felt my sighs of relief. I might add that I did not, nor would I have under any circumstances, stand up and jump and point to my child's head screaming "PICK HIM!!!! PICK HIM!!!!", as did the lady next to me.

By the end of Monday we had only a few things left to do, and some of them were repeats as Jackson was adamant that Sydney see Pirates of the Caribbean with him and Daddy wanted to enjoy Indiana Jones with his son. We easily accomplished these last things and more on our last day.

I must say, for as much as some might mock me for my uber planning, research and page protected materials, it paid off. When we ran into rides that were closed, or that had longer lineups or tired children, I accommodated that into our plans. I also had carefully planned some movies or shows where we could sit in air conditioned comfort (it was in the 90's F while we were there). This allowed us to spread out Sydney's limited walking time with adequate rests in between. Coming at a quieter time of year meant fewer line ups and when we did find a 25 minutes wait, it was no big deal.

Every evening I ticked off things on our MUST SEE list and studied the maps to recalibrate the next's days adventures. In no time, I knew where every shortcut was and every attraction. Sydney and Jackson also became fixated on the maps and insisted on consulting them even when I knew where we were going. Jackson did this to my perpetual consternation as he would walk slowly and watch the map when I wanted to travel quickly to beat a lineup.

When all was said and done we did everything on my list, some things twice and several things that didn't make my list.

So to recap my personal growth experience:

1. I can fret less over vacations now that my children are now at an age where traveling is easier (and thank goodness for the good folks at Nintendo for creating the DS)

2. I can enjoy the experiences and fret not when hotel clerks speaks of crowds that do not materialize.

3. Even near disasters like losing a DS stylus just don't matter as my kids can share and make do without quite without parental intervention.

4. Don't let a broken down pirate adventure get in the way of enjoying the rides that are open.

5. It is just fine to be a little obsessive about the research and the planning because it pays its dividends to understand judicious use of the Fastpass and which rides are your best early morning choices.

Happy!!

The happiest place on earth, they call it. And I can see why. Rides. Movies. Cartoon characters at every turn. Our much talked about trip finally took place this week and happy we were.

We rode rides.

Saw parades.

Watched fireworks.
Explored.
Made new friends. And at night, the magic was amplified.
Oh yeah, and the kids went to the Jedi Training Academy and even fought a couple evil villains. And had the happiest time ever!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

DS, The Sequel.

Jackson waited most impatiently for Daddy to get home from work so he could see his new game. He told me he was equally excited to see his new game as to go to Disneyland. Imagine, for the $25 we spent on the game we could have not gone to Anaheim??
Jackson said to Sydney this morning, knowing she would get her birthday present this evening, "Maybe you'll get a DS!!" I chided him "Don't get your sister excited about something that might not happen. That is more than we usually spend on birthday gifts". I kept the game up and gave her the game first, eliciting Jackson's solemn promise to share his DS so she could play her game on it. She was pleased. And then we gave her the real gift. Jackson was about 10 times more excited than she was. And she was plenty excited. He was over the top, squealing with delight. In my heart I know it was pure joy for her and at being able to play together and had not too much to do with NOT having to share his DS.

The Mommy Stress

September. The lollapalooza, the pinnacle, the climax of The Mommy Stress.

Top job for Labour Day is making sure the kids are outfitted for school: backpacks, lunch kits, water bottles, jackets, shoes, and clothes. The latter I actually got off pretty lucky this year. The kids had a fair bit of summer and winter clothes leftover that still fit. Jackson needed a Vancouver winter jacket (i.e. rain jacket able to repel deluges) and both kids needed a pair of jeans. Even taking into account Jackson's small circumference but close to average height, often an impediment to finding jeans that fit and normally requiring what I affectionately call 'the shopping shuttle' (buy, try on, return, repeat), I got these items with a minimal of effort.

Oh yes, and underwear. While Jackson had plenty of underwear, I made the bold decision that he would no longer wear character underwear. He is in grade THREE and will be changing into gym strip at school. I thought going with plain underwear is best. Now if he was wearing even close to age appropriate underwear, i.e. Transformers, X Men, Pokeman, Chaotic, Harry Potter, I might be less inclined to throw away perfectly good gaunch. But Jackson's licensed underwear is Bob the Builder and Blue's Clues, which, for those not in-the-know, are not geared to almost 8 year olds. Jackson had a Bob the Builder party when he turned 2 and Blue's Clues when he turned 3. You might say I'm a little late on this. Do not ask me why all this underwear still fits. I am also sending to the dump all the no name firetruck, car and puppy dog underwear. I actually have asked Jackson a few times over the past year if he wanted me to get him more plain underwear and he didn't care one way or another. So I deferred the expense. Come the Labour Day weekend I threw all the unsuitable underwear out and headed out to the mall to buy fresh.

Now, I do not know if I have unearthed a vast retail conspiracy but I consider it my public duty to inform you: boys briefs are almost impossible to find. Now perhaps it's available in shady backrooms off dark alleys or from guys with trench coats loitering near the drop off lanes at elementary schools ('hey lady, do ya need some boys briefs...'), but I have not found them in regular department stores and believe me I have tried.

I have found plenty of boxers. Even more of the hybrid 'boxer briefs', but briefs in the J Boys size are not to be found. I started off looking for our favourite brand, Fruit of the Loom. I ended up looking for any brand and come the third week of September I had one package purchased but they are too big so we'll tuck them away for middle school. Note to self, next time I think a wholesale change of underwear is needed, wait until I actually buy the new underwear before I throw out the old. Less laundry that way.

On top of outfitting the kids for school we Mommies are getting used to the routine of the new school year. Different classes, different teachers. Of course in our school the kids had different teachers and classrooms in week 1 so one has to reorient oneself again in the second week of school. We have to not only assemble lunches and snacks but we have to try and find something Sydney will eat at school that does not contain nuts. The kids must be managed through their adjustments to school and periodically reassured. The play date landscape must be assessed in particular for Sydney who is still in the process of finding her place at school.

My and Husband's schedules have been rejigged this fall. Since Sydney is in school for the full 6 hour school day, we have worked my work days around the school days and I trade childcare with another Mom at school. Husband has had his work-from-home day on Thursdays for 4.5 years. Now it's switching to Tuesdays and that is taking some getting used to.

Fall activities are starting and we have to commit the new schedule to memory. This not only requires remembering, for example, that Hip Hop for Sydney is at 3:15 on Mondays, but remembering that we need to go straight from school pick-up so I need to bring snacks for both kids and importantly something to occupy the J Boy since his sitting still for 45 minutes directly after school is about as likely as President Obama actually setting up death panels for senior citizens.

And then the biggest job of all: Notice Management. I do not know how parents work full time and manage all the notices coming home in the first 2 weeks of September. I work part time and I am waving the white flag. Notes about school supplies, fundraisers, Terry Fox run, classroom routines, homework projects, field trips, nut allergies, class calendars, open house, planners and H1N1 have all been sent home. Most have come in the kids' planners and a few via email. So far I have only written 2 cheques, but I know that it is early and we will see more notices and requests for money.

Now add to all these responsibilities, I have been coping with the following:
  • my work which has been busy all summer with a looming and important deadline of September 18th,
  • half of last weekend was spent at the Sarah McLachlan festival and the necessary planning beforehand,
  • my Dad had some angiography on September 17 to find the source of his angina the past number of months,
  • our car need its regular maintenance and a new oil pan which meant in addition to relieving us of close to $1,000, meant leaving our only car for an entire day, and
  • Sydney has had a cough for the last week. For the first half of the week I was stalking her with a thermometer praying that it wasn't the H1 N1. Now I'm chasing after her with the inhaler as she sometimes needs that to get over a cough and I don't want the good folks at US Customs to even hear her cough and deny us entry into the U.S. of A.

You might think that I am lucky not to be temporarily housed in a psychiatric ward.

Filed under "what were you thinking???" is the fact that on September 19th we are going Disneyland. It seemed like a good idea at the time. For all my neurotic over planning, we ended up booking for September despite our long intentions of going in December (for reasons of getting a good deal). I did consider that the kids are back in class only a couple weeks but I neglected to consider what the first weeks of September are like for me.

No matter, Disneyland here we come! Speaking of neurotic over planning, I believe I have elevated Disney research to a new level. With the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland as my constant companion, I have gone through the book and summarized what every ride, show and event is like. I have indicated the best time to go, and rated every single attraction on my own personal 5 star system indicating the appeal I think that attraction will have for our family. Then I made a sub-list of "must sees" for our family, all things rated three stars and above, which compactly fills two pages and I have highlighted all those items on maps. I have a tentative schedule of where we will start on the different days, factoring in that some things (e.g. fireworks) are held only on the weekends, and some things will be better left for Monday or Tuesday when the crowds are likely to be less and allowing for breaks to return to the hotel for a swim in the pool or a nap (the former for the kids, the latter for the grownups).

Of course there is also the minor task of packing for four people, which must include sufficient entertainment items for the kids. For the plane, bus ride, the primary entertainment will be Jackson's Nintendo DS. He bought it last June and almost since then he has told us he is starting to save up for one to buy his sister. Sydney has a birthday next week coincidentally while we are in Disneyland. We couldn't really think of what to get her for her birthday, having decided we are not going to give what she has asked for: a TV in her room. She talks about a DS and does like to play with her brother's. So we decided that we'll get HER a DS in time for the trip plus a game. We are justifying this extravagant purchase by deciding instead of "giving her allowance" in September as planned, we'll defer that to January and apply the allowance toward her DS.

As you might expect, I am not the kind of person who can pop into any store that sells DS games and say "hey this one looks good, I'll buy that". Husband who researches for a living, is not wired that way either. While I accessed the Mommy network for game recommendations, Husband happily took on the task of researching reviews of every DS game ever made. We decided that we'd get Jackson a new game too. Husband spend the equivalent of a day looking into various games and we settled on one for each kid.

On Tuesday night I started looking at on line inventories of DS games hoping to find a cobalt blue DS available at the same store as both the games we wanted. I quickly discovered that the Lego Indiana Jones game we had selected for Jackson was not generally available. However, the closest Best Buy had the blue DS and Sydney's game so Husband ran out to Best Buy hoping to get the Lego game, hoping for either inaccurate inventory control or a fresh box of DS games sitting on the loading dock. We were not so lucky.

On Wednesday Husband phoned our local EB Games and found that they had the game in stock. I went to the mall to continue the underwear mission and planned to pop in and pick up the game. Either someone lied to Husband or the last copy was sold just before I went to the mall. I checked our 5 more stores in the mall and discovered that Husband must not be the only one doing DS game research. Or someone, somewhere, is hoarding Lego Indiana Jones games along with all the boys briefs and is going to make a fortune on EBay. I was having a very hard time picking a different game with all that time and effort invested in this particular one. I was saved from that gut-wrenching decision by the good folks at HMV who had the game in stock for me. I believe I may have freaked out the guy at HMV by offering to bear two children for him.

What have I neglected this September that I should have been doing?? Planning Sydney's birthday party, kind of one of those tasks I usually obsess about. I'd hate to come back from the Happiest Place on Earth with Husband at a conference and have nothing to do.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Magic

In July, Husband came to me with a suggestion for his birthday present. His birthday is in December so you cannot accuse him of not planning ahead. Sarah McLachlan had just announced plans for a fundraiser. It was to be a festival type event with the headline acts, in addition to Sarah, being Neil Young and Sheryl Crow.

If anyone were to gander through our CD collection, you'd find every CD of Sarah McLachlan's and most of Neil Young's, they are two of Husband's all time favourite artists. While the only music Husband generally listens to now is the theme songs for anything on Teletoon, in his day he listened to music. A lot.

My sister in law secured tickets for us and we were thrilled. The planning of this event required military precision. This is a festival event by the beach. The main acts were in the evening but the doors were to open at noon. We had to arranged for babysitting for the kids, and figure out where to park, when we would go, what we would do with the hours we might be there while we staked out the best spots possible. The details of the concert were not released till about 10 days before which added to my stress. In all we had 10 hours to plan for.

In the end, we planned perfectly. Husband's sister and nephew very kindly took the kids for the first few hours and wore them out. Swimming pool, playground and a mysterious forest kept them active and engaged. Then the kids were transferred to my parents for dinner and the evening. They were mellow and enjoyed a movie night before getting tucked into bed.

Husband and I planned to get to the beach near noon, when the gates being opened. While I expected massive crowds, there was a modest group of keeners. Parking was easy. We had a backpack and blanket and got a reasonable spot before exploring the park.

One thing I did forget was to bring ID. Though I am two and a half times the legal drinking age in our province, everyone needed to line up for a "19+" wristband to be allowed in the beer gardens. Although I could easily do without a drink, given the hours ahead and the incredibly gorgeous weather, having a quiet drink the beer gardens, did seem appealing. I decided to line up for a wrist band, planning to take off my hat and show my grey roots as ample evidence that I must be well over 19. I chatted with a couple women in their mid thirties ahead of me. Nearing the front of the line I noticed they were sending anyone with questionable age to ID checkers while anyone obviously over 19 was immediately given a wristband. I was a little put out when the thirty somethings ahead of me got steered to show their ID. The decision-making lady took one look at me and said "You're probably okay" and gave me a wristband. I didn't even show her my roots?? I think I would have rather have gone without the beer and been carded!

We did enjoy a cold beverage while Husband and I planned our Disneyland trip. Well the flights and hotel are set, what park we will visit when, for how long had all to be sorted. I have done some research about which rides, shows and events I thought we would enjoy. But knowing where to go on any given day was entirely undecided. So we came up with a game plan. The rest of the afternoon was spent like this:













As the afternoon wore on, it got more crowded. Here is the gang behind us, before the big influx of people came:

















Once the time approached for the main acts, things got a little crowded. People were encroaching on our space. Latecomers squeezed in on three sides of us leaving empty a tiny patch of grass two feet square. There was no room to walk so people stepped on blanket, backpacks and occasionally toes. That two foot square patch of grass was soon occupied by two people, who had no problem putting their feet onto our blanket, into our backpack. I suppose I should be grateful that no one's feet was in our faces. Just when I thought our little patch of real estate was at maximum capacity, our 2 foot patchers invited 4 friends to join them. I only wish I were kidding.

However, the squatters were not without manners. They offered us tokes on their doobies (that's what they called them). We declined.

Once the concert started, we all stood and enjoy magnificent music:










































As if that were not magic enough, we were treated to a meteor sailing across the summer sky, a bright orange ball, mother nature's pyrotechnics. Memorable. Magical.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 1

We survived. In fact, I'd say we thrived.

Jackson didn't know too many kids in his "temporary" class this week. He seemed fine and apparently made some new friends. He did say that one day he wandered around alone at lunch looking for friends to play with. But I know he will settle in. When I asked him what he did each day, I got the "I don't know" answer so very popular with the grade 3 set.

This is Sydney's first year being at school the full 6 hours. This means playing outside at recess, eating lunch and playing on the schoolyard for 40 minutes each lunch hour. A lot of transitions for one week. She managed beautifully and each night gave us a detailed play by play on her day, including reporting on the rule infractions of other kids.

I remember being much more concerned about Jackson making these transitions to grade 1. Will he eat anything? Will he have anyone to play with? I had tentative plans to attend to the school ground and play matchmaker, trying to find him appropriate playmates. I was much less worried with Sydney. Perhaps because she managed to find playmates more easily in kindergarten than Jackson did. Or perhaps because she is my second child and even I have to mellow a little with the second child and the passage of time.

Or perhaps because I heard Jackson say to Sydney "Meet you at the yellow monkey bars at recess!"

That heartwarming display of brotherly affection threatened to be eclipsed my perterbment with his effort at getting to school on Friday. Though we made it on time, I had to take away a boatload of privileges and threaten to bring the lad to school in his dirty underwear (i.e. no clothes) because he was refusing to get dressed because I was not acting as his servant in some such manner. I hope for better mornings ahead.

And we found out our teachers for the year and I am very pleased. I would love to write more about our first week, but Sydney has 2 homework projects already and we need to get to work on those. Fortunately, Sydney does not appear to have Jackson's homework allergy. If fact she is pestering me to work on it. While I know some would caution ME against getting to involved in HER homework, both projects involve pictures of her/our family/ our summer, the organization of which is clearly my domain.