Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2020 Olympics, Here we Come!

Yes! I have found the girls' natural talent...a sport where they just might be child prodigy material.

The sport is: Bocce ball.

Maybe it's NOT in the Olympics now, but it could be by 2020, right? I mean, if curling could make it, the Bocce could too! They really did seem to have a knack for it. Check out that form!

We discovered this talent when we visited Merlo Park, in Stirling City for a weekend picnic. The park is a beautifully groomed 27-acre refuge, with a man-made waterfall & stream feeding three ponds.

The ponds were stocked with rainbow trout, although I don't think fishing is allowed. FEEDING the fish is allowed, however, and Boy are those fish FAT! The girls enjoyed watching the fish fight over pellets from the vending machine.

And what could be more fun than sending your Crocs floating down the stream?

We all found things to enjoy about the park...

The park was populated with bronze statues, and the girls had a great time hamming it up with their metallic counterparts:

What a wonderful afternoon!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Endless Endless Endless Entertainment

Although the start of the school year hit me like a freight train, I did make SOME effort to prepare. There were some items, like backpacks and shoes, that really had to be purchased before school. Naturally, we went up to Paradise (near Chico), to visit friends Nick and Judy to do our school shopping. Why? Because I am a bad shopper, and Judy is very, very good, and she enjoys spoiling the girls.

We went to JC Penney as our primary target. Historically, the girls enjoy shopping for toys and anything that looks like toys, including jewelry and purses that look like stuffed animals hanging on a string. This trip was no exception. But I guess we don't often (i.e. never) really go clothes shopping. I hadn't really recognized this fact until we were in the dressing rooms. The girls acted like they had never been in one...they were just fascinated with the mirrors.

Their antics just tickled my funny bone. Here are these two girls, who are so nearly reflections of each other, enjoying endless sets of themselves, marching and kicking.

Dressing rooms--who knew they could be so fun?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Someone Took my Babies

With the new, longer commute to school, a few of us have banded together to form a carpool. There is a bus, of course, but the morning bus carries K-12, and I'm not ready for my tender babies to go there just yet. They do a decent job of keeping the little ones up front, but...still. We are fortunate to have one of the only bus routes in the afternoon that carries K-6 only, so the girls will be riding the bus home most days--with the stops, it's about a 40-minute trip.

So yesterday was our first day of official carpooling. We walked down our driveway to meet our ride.

Then I had to zoom in and get a picture of these cute, cute dresses. Note that I figured out at the last minute that it is PE day, hence the tennis shoes. Kind of a summery, sporty look!

I didn't take pictures of them getting into the car, because I didn't want to make a big deal about it, but as they drove away, I realized that it was indeed a big deal!

This is the first day someone else is saying goodbye on the playground, someone who will not give them a hug and kiss.

They were ready, of course. But maybe I wasn't.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New year, new school

Although I've been trying desperately to catch up from all our summer activities, I've been overcome by events. Specifically, school started this past Wednesday. Here are the girls, ready to go. Mae is wearing the SAME DRESS she has worn on the first day for THREE YEARS!

Last year:

TWO years ago!

I don't think it will make it next was a little tight :-)

The start of the school year has been particularly bittersweet this year. I always feel sad parting from the girls after time together...I get the blues each Monday during the school year, and especially on the first day of school. This year, I had the added sadness of driving by Sierra Elementary to the new Foothill Elementary, about 13 minutes further.

You may recall that our district had to close its two elementary schools and consolidate to a k-6 at the former middle school, and 7-12 at the high school. The new elementary school is 630 kids, while our old K-3 was about 150. With so many changes, we knew to expect chaos on that first day, and were not disappointed. Check out the nervous excitement on the girls' faces:

Amidst all the hovering parents, the girls finally found their line, which finally meandered off to the classroom.

I'm grateful they are together this year, and am anxious to get involved. Maybe I will grow to love this new school too. I will try my best to keep an open mind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

To Hell and Back

One of the "fun" things we did in Albuquerque was ride the passenger tram up to Sandia Peak. The tram is the longest of its kind in the world. The car travels 4,000 vertical feet across 2.7 miles in about 15 minutes. At one point, the car is almost 1,000 feet above the ground.

And I took my babies on it.

I think that was the source of the problem. Because there was a problem. I had ridden the tram years ago, and although it was a little freaky, I had no difficulty. But I'll admit going in this time, I was anxious. I tried to distract myself by taking pictures. See how everyone is having fun?

Not sure if I mentioned before, but my niece Megan was along on the trip.

I even took pictures of Mark and I. We even look like we're having fun, don't we?

Mark was, but I was not. I was thinking about what would happen if the cable failed. I was thinking that I wasn't getting enough air. I was thinking I might faint. Or vomit. Then I was pretty sure I was going to vomit, and started to think about where I was going to do it. My purse? No, too many important things could get ruined. I decided on Mark's hat. I readied myself to snatch it off his head.

Fortunately it didn't come to that, but not by much.

When we got to the top, I debated whether to tell Mark about my inner turmoil. Should I just try to tough it out and NOT tell him? But what about the trip down? How was I possibly going to face that? In the end, I did tell him. I told him I needed to see if they had any Tums available up there. Turns out, Megan was carrying her backpack in which she had a horde of Tums. I briefly pondered what kind of 14-year-old carries a bunch of Tums around, and then I downed six. Then we walked around and enjoyed the views.

During this time, I was considering whether I should ride the tram back down, or have Mark drive around the back side of the peak (an hour & 15 minutes) to pick me up. I decided to try my luck on the tram. Armed with a large Styrofoam cup (provided by the employee at the station, who said this happens all the time), I boarded the tram with my family. This time, I stood right next to the front window, focused on the fresh air coming in through it, and the interior of the car.

And we made it down just fine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finally...New Mexico

I must briefly note that at this point I'm writing about events from almost a month ago. August, where have you gone?

OK, so day 3 we made it into New Mexico but chose to hang it up in Gallup, just two hours or so west of our final destination, Albuquerque. I can't say much about Gallup, other than that it has the most humongous, crowded Walmart I've ever seen (earplugs: check). It also has Red Rocks State Park, which looked really beautiful...from the freeway. And it ALSO has USA RV Park, which has mastered the fine art of billboard advertising from hundreds of miles away, so by the time you reach Gallup, you just give up and go there. It was a very well-run park, clean and well-priced, complete with an American flag on the bottom of the pool, an evening BBQ, and live country music. Well, one guy singing & playing guitar with an I-Pod backup...but he was pretty good! However, I would not recommend the fried catfish. We enjoyed our evening cocooning in this very safe spot, a decent distance from the trains, and then we marched on to Albuquerque.

I may not have mentioned "the big picture" for this trip...we really had two goals in mind:
1. Get out in the RV---no small challenge. We lived in that trailer for 19 months. Other than moving it from my folks' place to ours last summer, it hadn't been moved in almost 2 1/2 years. So there was a fair amount of inertia to overcome. But dag nabbit...the thing is paid off, and if we're gonna keep it, let's use it! Right? Right???? Right.

2. Visit the high concentration of family and friends in the Albuquerque area. Mark's parents and two of his sisters and their families. My cousins. Several long-term Air Force friends. It takes at least a week to do this well, so we planned on a week, which stretched into 8 days, but we did do it well!

I would say the top of our list was spending time with Mark's parents, who, despite some setbacks in this past year, are amazingly vibrant.

What a wonderful investment.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Seligman AZ

The second day of our road trip took us across the Mojave desert, into Arizona, and ended in Seligman AZ. This little town was right out of the movie "Cars".

In fact, the rumor is that the town barber "Mario" was the model for the character "Luigi" in the movie.

Of course, I didn't research this very thoroughly, and the town was pretty much shut down by the time we started to explore. We had a decent but very overpriced dinner at "The Roadkill Cafe", then headed back to our campground.

The (expensive) KOA was pretty much the only available camping in town, but what I did not really notice until bedtime was that the campground was very close to the train tracks. And the route is very active ALL NIGHT! This was not the first time we'd run across this problem, but it WAS the first time we found such a poor location with KOA. The next day, earplugs were #1 on my list of needed items.

So...Seligman was a cute stop, but not on my list of adventures to repeat.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reliably Unreliable

So...perhaps you've noticed that it has been quite a span of time since I last posted. This gap was not completely without cause. I was out of town on an RV road trip for most of that time, but had optimistically predicted that internet connectivity would be robust and plentiful. Not so.

Therefore, I was forced into a bit of a hibernation, and I am just now shaking off the cobwebs. I'm thinking I might share a bit about my trip. And share some funny stories. But maybe starting tomorrow...not tonight.

I'll just leave you with our first night's lodging, an RV camp in Tehachapi, CA. See the wind turbines on the ridge? It was located right next to an airstrip, which made me a little nervous.

Fortunately, it was an airstrip for gliders, and they didn't fly at night!