aelfie: (tattoo)

I thought about it and realized that I needed to post pictures here with my phone and then come back and annotate them. Easiest way I know to do this. They are not in any proper order, I'm just posting them.



We spent a night in Jackson, WY on our way from Salt Lake City and Yellowstone. The night before was the super rough one with Gray up in the night puking his guts up. Earlier he had enough energy to go down the Alpine Slide, but after that he didn't want to get out of the car. This was taken on our way to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We were driving to get to the highway and stopped when I saw this. That arch is made from shed elk antlers. What you can't see is that there's one on each corner of this park. Ut.




We took a ride down an Alpine Slide. It's something a ski resort carves into the hill side so that there's some way for them to make money during the winter. Runs right under the chair lift on the left. In the Winter it's completely covered in snow and you'd never know it was there. This is the first time I ever rode a chair lift. Fun! Gray wasn't feeling well but well enough for a ride.




Gray rode down the slide with me. So I only managed to snap a picture of Gwen as she went last.




You can tell they are so enthused to be at the Grand Tetons. I thought it was beautiful. They were "NO MOM! We don't want to have our picture taken!!" "Too bad, get out of the car"




I saw this as I was pulling out of that parking lot and thought it was hysterical.



On our way out of West Yellowstone, we found there is a Wolf and Grizzly refuge. This picture is not zoomed, the wolf came that close to the window. Beautiful!




A HUGE mushroom on a tree I spotted as we were leaving a rest stop somewhere in Montana.




The really, really, really cool Dragon on A Merry go round for Missoula.



As we left Missoula for Kalispell my van flipped 100000 miles. Woot

aelfie: (harold the hoopty car)
I left home last Sunday with a fully packed van and four kids. And a dog. The dog got left with mom.

The ride to Reno was uneventful. We checked into Circus Circus with no problems. We were disappointed to find the buffet closed, so we ate at their in-house diner. The kids had hamburgers.

We got up early and started the drive to Salt Lake. I was warned by several people that there's not much to see between the two. I found them wrong. Gently rolling hills, little valleys, rivers, trains, livestock and gorgeous colors of vegetation! I was really impressed by the abrupt change in the landscape between Nevada and Utah. You knew immediately you were someplace different.

We spent two nights in Salt Lake visiting one of my friends. We went to This is the Place Heritage Park in the morning. The kids really enjoyed it. Its a living history park and the houses are either historic buildings moved to this area or are recreations. I liked how they showed both the homes of poor people and those who were better off. Ike was fascinated by the blacksmith. We also got to see the live version of "gotta piss like a horse" I've never seen that before and the kids were impressed. We spent the afternoon down in Temple Square. The history museum was interesting and the visitors center was fascinating. Then we walked around the temple. There are two sets of impressive doors that haven't been used in ages. If temple-goers want to go in, the entrance is a street away and you go underground. I shudder to think about how they would get everyone out case of fire. The other thing about the Temple that struck me is it's size. Or rather lack thereof. Now. It's tall. It's gloriously tall and impressive. However, the footprint is quite small. I think my Mom's parish church has a bigger footprint. I was expecting something like a Roman Catholic Cathedral size. It's not. I was told they spent 40 years building it. For some reason, I wasn't too impressed. They've been working on the Gaudi Cathedral for over 100 (131 so far with another estimated 13 to go (a couple of wars halted construction, go figure)). Gray decided that he was going to get sick that afternoon and spent the afternoon in my arms. Sleeping. He also decided to pop a pretty good fever that night. But he woke up the next morning bright and chipper.

We spent the 28th driving to Jackson, WY. I got to see wheat fields for the first time ever! Cool. I tried not to breathe too deeply. Pretty drive. I found a road [livejournal.com profile] allanh s husband Randy needs to drive. Not only did it have the joy of curves and ups and downs...you got to dodge livestock! It was an uneventful drive. Jackson is gorgeous! We definitely want to go back. We only spent this one night and there's so much to do! Gray decided to get really sick on this night and we were up from about 1:30-4:30 with him alternatively vomiting and extreme EBS. Poor thing. I left a huge tip for the housekeeping crew, he threw up all over the bed several times (after Ike woke us up at 6).

We got up and went to this alpine slide I read about. It was awesome!!! First time I've ever ridden a ski lift. Then we hit the road. Drove through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Amazing thunder storm overhead as we entered Yellowstone park, and then we crested a hill, and the storm was gone. Blue skies and warm sunshine. Had to convince the children to stick around long enough to see Old Faithful. I had to bribe them with ice cream. Wow. Just wow. Drove out of the park to our next hotel. Gray was miserable by this point and needed to go to bed. Ended up seeing a bison just wandering down the road in the opposite lane before we got out of the park. Yes! Only wildlife we saw in the park. Got to the next hotel and put everyone to bed.

On the 30th we drove to Missoula, MT. There's all these little signs on the side of the road telling you interesting things to see. I stopped at one called the "Lake that Tilted". It kinda caught my attention. Serious earthquake in 1959 literally tilted the lake and created another billion gallons of storage area. It also dumped 80 million tons of rock on the north end and drowned a campground. The mountain damage is obvious and you drive ON TOP of the fallen rock. It was kinda eerie, but also fascinating. Got to the hotel in Missoula.

Everybody felt great the next day on the 31. Joe was flying in and we had time to kill. We had breakfast and then I started to feel awful. So did Ike. I finally got us out of the room and into the car and stopped at the Carousel for Missoula. There's a dragon for the kids to ride!!! Ike was sufficiently sick, he stayed in the car to sleep. The other three rode it twice. Then we hit the road for Kalispell and Joe. The drive was nice, but I was feeling too awful to really notice anything. I got to Joe an hour late. =( But we got to the next hotel and I went to bed while Joe took care of the 3 non sick kids.

This morning we got up and moving and checked out from the hotel with like 5 minutes to spare. We stopped at a local grocery store for food for a couple of days and made it to the house we are staying at. It's gorgeous. On a lake. The kids played. And passed out.
aelfie: (tattoo)
I am sick of days that go well and end badly.

The afternoon with Ike went well, we had fun, everyone got along...it was great!

And then after dinner, Ike melted down. Full blown, destructive, temper tantrum. I'm tired of this. This last year has been so rough for him and its tiring for all of us when he loses it. The good thing? He cleaned up his sisters room after trashing it. Gwen even came in and helped us tidy up without being asked.

Afterwards the four of us sat down at the kitchen table and I facilitated the, um. hrm. I don't know the name of the technique...whatever. I prompted them using "I" statements. I asked Ike what bothered you and he began to spew "You guys...yadda, yadda" and I went "okay Ike. Try this "I felt frustrated....yadda yadda" and prompted the girls in saying "I heard that you feel...blah, blah when I blah blah...is that right?" Eventually they kinda got the idea. I realized that they are now old enough to teach the proper way to fight....and I guess I'm going to be working on that a LOT this summer.

*sigh*

I'm dreading school stopping next week. I'm also looking forward to it. I'm dreading next fall...and can't help but wonder if it's for the best. I want my kids to grow up less broken than me...they may be broken differently, but hopefully less broken.

One thing to look forward to is a big road trip late summer. On Saturday Joe and I went to our Church's Auction and got a week at a cabin on Bitterroot Lake in Montana. We were looking at the fact that if we are homeschooling this fall, we should take advantage of it and travel. I've lived in the SF Bay Area my entire life except for a short stint at Davis. I've also never really traveled. There's a lot of things/places in the Western US I've never seen. So, when the cabin went up for $300 and no one bidding on it...we decided it was a good idea to jump on it. We are going to drive it...possibily (hopefully) coming back through Seattle (Go and see friends we haven't seen in a few years) and Portland (Powells!!!!) So we are looking at a minimum 2 week trip. 3-4 days up and back and a week in Montana. I'm looking forward to it...longest road trip I've ever taken is Disneyland. This trip is 4 times the distance.

Also pondering a trip to the Grand Canyon...that's less than 800 miles from here.
aelfie: (everyone scream)
Never again. Never, ever, with children again.

Too many people, not nearly enough vendors selling food or drink. Of the approx 30 competition teams less than half (closer to 1/3 or 1/4) were selling food. Lines averaged 45 minutes. Prices good. Not enough for the kids. Plenty of bathrooms.

Thank god it wasn't obscenely hot. There was a nice breeze that kept it nice,but still. Not going to that ever again.

We stopped at Mickey D's for ice cream and water afterwards...and then a stop at our favorite BBQ joint for food. Joe and I are hungry.
aelfie: (Default)
Which is an acronym for The Museum of CHildren's Art in Downtown Oakland

I threw the kids in the car this morning "We are going on a road trip. Vacuum the living room, go to the bathroom, put on shoes, and get in the car!" A stop to fuel up and a stop at the bank for cash and we hit the road.

I'm a mean Mom. "Where are we going?" "Down the road and around the corner!" (Which actually, Gray got out of his mouth before I did. Love my kid!) Took a little over an hour due to traffic getting into the downtown area and the fact that the Broadway Street exit (the one I needed of course) was shut down.

We got there at 11. I decided that the smart thing to do is go find an early lunch. And it was a good thing because 1. It meant we were all fueled up and not cranky. 2. The toddler crowd cleared out as we showed up at noon.

The museum is fine. Kids art. Whatever. What I brought them for was the drop in art studio. They had a blast. Paint was everywhere! Ike at first whined that it was for small kids and the docent got him set up at the paint wall and he went to town channeling Jackson Pollock. The kids left completely covered in paint (washable thank god!). A good time was had and we went to the ice cream parlor next door to wait for the paintings to dry enough to bring home. We also went to the gift shop and picked up several art/craft kits. Gray fell asleep in the car on the ride home. So the girls busted out the kits and Ike and I made chocolate chip cookies.

A good afternoon. I'm not sure I'm in a hurry to go back. It was a good one time experience though. Its just too far away and too expensive ($8.00 each kid) to do very often
2012-06-28 12.48.32
2012-06-28 12.55.56

2012-06-28 12.51.14
aelfie: (Have a Nice Day)
Joe has been on vacation this last week, and its been fabulous! We hung out, went out to lunch without kids a couple of times, we got naked a few times, cleaned the garage, had an excellent trip to the Beach Boardwalk (no lines, beautiful day, must remember the Tuesday before labor day is an excellent day to go), went swimming a couple of times, got some sewing done, wanted to see a movie but couldn't get it to fit in the schedule (oh well, next time), visited my parents and Grandma, got an article published, went to the Highland Games (no way in hell are we doing that again for a few years...and Ren Faire this year is right out!), went to church, did homework, got errands ran, got ready for the kids to start school (yikes!)...it was just the right amount of busy time and at home time.

It's been awesome. We need to continue to do this. Is there any better way than spending 90% of your time with your sweetie and best friend (and I'm lucky that they are, in fact, the same person? I think not.

Now we just need to win the lottery so every week can be like this one. =)
aelfie: (Default)
Home Again, Jiggity Jog!

Stats:
Tanks of gas: 1
Miles covered: 343 (approx)
emails waiting: 468 (not counting the 100 or so I cleared out wednesday night)
LJ Posts waiting: 440+ (I am not going back to read all of 'em. If something important happened, set me up with a link)
kids lost: 1, for about 20 minutes
injuries: 2 (Joe running into a scratchy bush, me slicing my hand open with my pocket knife.)
sunburns: 1, Joe's head
temper tantrums: too many to count, but not enough to ruin the trip.
missing items: 1 pink flip flop, 1 bag of books and heavy baby doll kit from Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore (think this got boosted at Costco. About $100.00 worth of stuff gone...dammit. I have to call tomorrow and replace it. One of the books was a text book I needed)
number of children who fell asleep in the car on the way home: 4
Dogs happy to see us: 1
Packages waiting us: 4
backs ready for their own bed: 2

Man we are glad to be home. Almost the best trip ever. Only two really bad moments. Write up by either Joe or I to follow.
aelfie: (Default)
This weekend we went off with Ike's school on a camping trip at New Brighton Beach State Park. To sum up: we learned a lot, and it was soooo totally worth it.

Things to remember for next time
  • Pack the tent
  • Pack breakfast food
  • Don't worry about leaving on time
  • Release the need to be in control 100% of the time
  • RELAX
  • Bring containment system for Gray (read:playpen. Joe and my backs are sore after him spending most of the weekend in the backpack)
  • Bring entertainment for the kids i.e. bikes, skates, scooters, balls, toys, etc
  • Bring GAMES!!! Duh!
  • Bring a big stake to stake Charlie to.
  • Remember quarters for the showers
  • Bring a LONG extension cord for blowing up the beds
  • The beds need to be topped off every night
  • Turn the van engine on when blowing up the beds.
  • Pack towels
  • Bring caffeine
  • Bring lighterfluid. Those solid cubes of firestarter suck!!!
  • LOTS of briquettes
  • Bring wood
  • Get sleeping bags that zip together
  • Camping for 3 days requires more than 2 dishtowels. Try a dozen next time
  • Camp chairs for adults would be very nice.
I think that just about covers it. If I think of anything else, I'll come back and add it.
aelfie: (Default)
Came home after two days of camping and the lizard was sitting right at the front door. Tried to catch him, but missed. He's hiding behind the computers again. Poor thing.

Camping was...an adventure. We learned a lot for next time. And the kids had a blast! It was made of complete awesome to watch Ike, Elli, and Gwen wander around with a large pack of kids having a good time, I heard a lot of laughter, "Mommy! Can I go play with my friends?" and a lot of fun. Which made any difficulties with the weekend completely fade to nothing. It was worth it, and I'm wanting to do this again.
aelfie: (snape on a plane)
I called AAA Travel today and made reservations for us to go to Disneyland from Nov 20 to Nov 24. I didn't get any of the hotels I preferred, as all the big rooms/suites were already booked (DAMN!). So we will be staying down the road at the Embassy Suites. I stayed there before, many years ago, and it was perfectly fine. I think it will work out well for us as these suites will allow us to spread out. Big bonus is a door between the bedroom and the living space. We can put people to bed and close the door on them.

The only downside I can see is the distance. We will not be in walking distance. Yes, we can take the shuttle, but that can be a long wait. Or we can drive...same problem, as you need a shuttle to the garage. 

And the price ended up being something reasonable. Not break the bank level, but something where we will need to put some money aside as the year goes on.

Bonus! I just checked our savings accounts and found that I've got half of the money for the trip saved up. This now leaves us with enough wiggle room to take Ike up to the snow either this month or next. I'll have to check with my Mom and see what weekend she is free. She offered last year to stay with the girls for a weekend so we could take Ike, as the girls are still a bit young (and too short) to enjoy any of the outdoor entertainment at the resort we found last year. (Which is very cool. Needless to say, I'm going...but I'm not going outside. I'll stay at the hotel and stitch.)
aelfie: (Wheat is my enemy)
We went to the Monterey Aquarium on monday. The trip is worth noting for two things.

1. At one point in the afternoon, I was literally dead on my feet. Joe finally found me and asked how I was doing. My response, "I'm dealing with being glutened yesterday, I have a headache, I'm hungry, and I'm out of spoons." Getting Glutened REALLY reduces my number of spoons drastically. Most days I don't worry about it.

2. We had lunch at the Portola Cafe which is inside the aquarium. You have a choice of a self-serve cafeteria style or a sit down restaurant. In the essence of speed we went the cafeteria route. I chose the Mexican Station, as it tends to be VERY safe for me to eat. As I explained to the chef behind the counter that I needed non-gluten containing stuff on my fish, he decided that the best way to keep me safe was to go back into the main kitchen, cut up some fresh fish just for me. Cook it in front of me in clean pans and made me a special dish. How cool is that? And yes I did sing his praises, with his name no less, not only to the general manager and then to the Executive Chef when he came around. It was really nice to get treatment like that.
aelfie: (MnM Ike)
Although one could argue that he's never needed one.

My mom took him to visit Joe's parents...in North Carolina. He'll be back next saturday. He did well on the flight. They went from SJC to DFW for a 2.5 hour lay-over. Then got on another plane to Raleigh. They spent the night at a hotel with a swimming pool and Mom and Dad got Mom and Ike this morning.

Events worth remembering:

Ike doesn't seem to have much problem with the ascent...but his ears bug the shit out of him on the descent.
I need to teach Ike how to chew and not swallow gum.
Ike actually made it to the toilet without having an accident.
Ike likes telling Texan Businessmen about Scooter's "tail, penis, and poop-hole".
Texas Businessmen have senses of humor when hearing outrageous stories from kids.
Ike's turning into a big kid. Mom said that he knocked Joe's Mom on her butt rushing her to give her a hug.

It will be interesting to get the stories of what's happening as the week progresses.

Scooter (my Mom's Dog) is missing her terribly. The girls are treating him fairly well. Ike is (so far) not missing us. And I'm cool with it.
aelfie: (Default)
So we decided to take the kids on their first trip to the snow. We came home yesterday...a day early. OY!


I am very glad to be home. I slept good last night and I managed to get an appt this morning to see a doctor over the fact that I've been constantly sick since Solstice. So, with some new drugs in hand, I might get to feel better soon. Joe also managed to let me take a 3.5 hour nap. I have a great husband.

As another bonus for the weekend. I find out acidentially that all the rooms in the place where we stayed are individually owned. Several are up for sale at a price we've decided to pursue investigation. I like the idea of having some vacation property, I don't like time shares, and that area of the world is good for year round fun. So, it would also be a good investment property. It would also be nice for when the kids are a bit older.

Ouch!

Feb. 8th, 2008 06:06 pm
aelfie: (Have a Nice Day)
So, the in-laws want our next Disney vacation in Florida. Fair enough...I've never been. It will be a couple of years because 1. I hate flying with little people, 2. its going to take awhile to save our pennies.

Anyway, I was poking around the WDW vacation website, plugging in dates, numbers of people, etc, etc.

Ouch.

To stay at the top of the line Suites with Kitchens $1500 per person (plus airfare for us)
To stay at the bottom of the line (Tents!) $460 per person (plus air)
To stay in the cabins in the camping area (a/c, tv, full kitchen, sleeps 6) $979 per person (plus air)*
To stay in the cheap hotel, (no kitchen) $733 per person (plus air)

It might take me a bit longer to save my pennies than I originally thought.

I really want that kitchen...even if we are just making breakfast and lunches...it should save us tons on food.

Ouch.







* Now these prices reflect, 10 day off season stay, 10 day park hopper passes (includes water parks), no air, no car.

My weekend

Jan. 13th, 2008 10:04 pm
aelfie: (partys over)
With no computer access no less.



Things I learned:
1. My opinions and views on life are vastly different than these women. Some of my thoughts, had I shared them (I'm not that stupid), would have shocked the shit out of them.
2. I really need to shut up. Not everyone appreciates random bits of information flotsam. Especially when I know its contrary to what they think (i.e. commercially manufactured mayonaise, like Best Foods, do not need to be refrigerated after opening. It can be put in the pantry and it doesn't cause food poisoning if left out. Yes I know this is contrary to what people think and are told, but look it up. As long as you keep it room temperature (in the house) and out of the sun (at a picnic) its safe.) I noticed I did this most when I felt like I had nothing else to contribute to the conversation. I need to just listen and enjoy.
3. I don't feel like I truly fit in with these women. I'm not middle america. I've never had a group of girlfriends before, so I feel like I'm still trying to figure out the whole "hang with a girl group" dynamic thing. l also recognize that the feeling of not fitting in might just be my insecurities.
4. Elli and Gwen are no longer babies. They truly are little girls. *sniff*
5. I have a fabulous husband. Out of the entire group, he was the only one encouraging me to go and not giving me a guilt trip about doing so.  And left him with 3 kids (BTW I have more kids than anyone else does too). And he didn't call me to complain. Definite blow job points for that.
6. The kids are real energy vampires.
7. Twin beds suck.
aelfie: (Default)
In the spirit of Lazarus. Just a collection of thoughts and things we learned on this trip. I'll be adding to this over the next few days as I think of things.

If you have small kids, not only plan your stay at a Disney resort, for god sakes, spend the extra $500 for the week and stay at the Grand Californian. The walk from the Disneyland Hotel and the front gate is a freaking death march and is a lot longer than you think. Especially at the end of the day and your 4.5 year old doesn't want to walk any more.

Take the case of juice boxes, you'll save money.

Take water too. 2.5 gal jugs for the room and half liter bottles to take with you. At $2.75 a pop for a 20 oz bottle, you'll go broke staying hydrated.

Bringing instant oatmeal is a great way of saving a few bucks. However, the Disneyland Hotel does NOT provide a coffee pot. It will cost you $3.00 (with tip) to get a pot of water "for tea". Invest in an electric tea kettle. Ten bucks at Target.

Take the baby backpacks. Both of them. You'll be thankful.

Speaking of Target, there is one just south of Disneyland on Harbor. About 2 miles on the left. You can't miss it.

There is also a Vons down there too. Go like you are heading to the Target, make a left on Chapman. Maybe a mile, store on left. Your Safeway card will work there.
Also take your own strollers. Yes, you can rent strollers (for free if you have the Disney Visa Card) at the park, but remember that Death March from the hotel to the front gates (where the strollers are) that I mentioned earlier? Its worth it.

If the strollers you do in fact take with you are those POS umbrella strollers that everyone has, buy the stupid handle extenders.

Fuck the umbrella strollers, take the huge fucking stroller. If you have to strap the damn thing to the roof of your car with rope through the windows, it will be worth it. Your back will thank you.

Fishy crackers, boxes of raising, and fruit snacks go a long way in helping cranky children.

Don't get the cheapest rooms available at the Disneyland hotel. Yes, the view is crappy, but the rooms across the hall with the view of the pool are BIGGER. And they have a couch that converts into a daybed. Our family of 5 would have been much more comfortable across the hall.

Don't put your park ticket in envelope on the lanyard. They crack and you might lose your ticket.

Its more than worth the twenty bucks to shut your mother up about not knowing you were going to take a day off and she bought a ticket for her entire trip.

There is not VCR or DVD player in the rooms. There is a channel of cartoons 24/7 but the same 5 cartoons play the entire time.

Sunday night is, in fact, a great night to go to the park. The weekend crowd is too tired to stay late and goes home early. The lines are shortish.

Disneyland staff throw away lost baby bottles for hygiene reasons. Do yourself pack extra. Its ugly when twins have to share 1 bottle.

There is a mothers room near the first aid station off of Main Street. Its a quiet place to sit, nurse, change diapers, etc.

Most of the Disneyland food concessions are more than happy to re-fill your cup with ice for free.

There are lots of water fountains around the park. Pour it over your free ice. However, the ONLY refrigerated water fountain is at the first aid station. Useful information on a hot day.

TAGS: (Just cause): travel, Disneyland, toddlers, small kids, pre-schoolers, twins, tips, ideas, things not to do, things to do.

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