Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sea! Or is it, Sea World, fun?

When we sold Girl Scout cookies this year in our troop, the girls decided they wanted to do something fun with their cookie money. They decided they wanted to do an overnight at Sea World. They narrowed it down to staying in the Wild Arctic exhibit or the Shark Encounter. Since some of the chaperones were queasy about sharks, we booked the Wild Arctic. I had stayed there with Caitlyn when she won an overnight by selling over 500 boxes of cookies in San Diego. Let's get real - I sold over 500 boxes of cookies. And it cost me a pretty penny to have those cookies shipped all over the country, but I digress.

It started out good - everyone got there on time, we unloaded all of our luggage, put on our neon green shirts and went off with our counselors. We fed the Bat Rays squid, which was REALLY cool! You held the squid between two fingers, and they just sucked it right out of your hand. They also would let you pet them, which was pretty cool as well.

We ate dinner, pasta and hot dogs - they go together, right? And then we went to learn about sharks...their teeth, to be specific. We got to make shark tooth necklaces, and that was also fun. Who knew how many teeth and how many different kinds of teeth sharks had? They did tell us that we have a better chance of being killed by having a vending machine fall on us than having a shark bite us. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be comforting, or not....

After "class", they rushed us over to the "Shamu Rocks" show. Seeing a Shamu show at night set to rock and roll music was amazing, and they saved a whole section for us. They did have dancing trainers, which was a bit disturbing, but other than that - GREAT!

Jessica looks happy to be here, doesn't she? They really do put on a good show. On the right here is Caitlyn and Aubrey, my friend Heather's daughter at the show. They gave all of us those glow necklaces that REALLY came in handy later on when it was dark.
After the show, we went to another activity to learn more about sharks by using a shark-style Mr. Potato Head. She showed us all the pieces/parts for a shark and taught the girls how to tell the difference between a girl shark and a boy shark. They also had a tank of incubating shark eggs which reminded me strangely of vampires since they were hanging - it was creepy. The girls thought it was "awesomeness". I didn't get a picture of the creepy eggs hanging, but I did get pictures of the girls petting sand sharks. They're small and docile, so they were OK with it.

I was so prepared for our night sleeping on the hard wood floor of the Wild Arctic: single air mattress for Caitlyn, CHECK; double air mattress for me and Jessica, CHECK; warm jammies and sleeping bags, CHECK. Of course, I didn't plan on LIFE happening. As soon as we got to bed, Caitlyn started complaining that the single air mattress was not holding air. I verified it, but I was so tired, I just bellowed at her to go ahead and sleep on the other mattress with Jessica, I would suffer in silence. (OK, maybe not so silent, but suffering it would be). 10 minutes after lights out, Jessica started throwing up. In her sleeping bag. All over her warm jammies. All over the only air mattress that was inflated. Thank God the counselors were there to help out: they took the mattress, her sleeping bag, and jammie shirt and gave them to hospitality to wash. I washed Jess's hair and her body in the sink in the only bathroom we had access to. When we went back in, they gave her a sleeping bag, but she was still going to be on the hard floor so I told her to lay on top of their sleeping bag, and I unzipped mine and let her use half as a blanket. Not such a good idea - I was directly on the cold hard wooden floor freezing with only 1/2 of a sleeping bag. After a couple of hours, I asked Jessica to climb into the sleeping bag and I zipped mine up. At least I had warmth if not comfort!

They started waking us up around 6:00 am. I was glad since I hadn't slept all night. But I was an emotional mess. While we were at breakfast, my friends were just teasing me, giving me a hard time, and I burst into tears. It wasn't pretty. I'm embarassed by it, really. But, I apologized, and we moved on to the rest of the day.

Curt and Jamie came over with Cailee. They took Jessica with them to "Breakfast with Elmo" - I wish I had seen it! I guess she ran up to Elmo and Big Bird and gave them big hugs, quite unlike her mother who was afraid of large cartoon-like characters as a child. Check out the cutest girls in the world - I only wish Caitlyn had gotten in this picture!

But we decided while they were doing this, we would do the "Journey to Atlantis" ride which was like 1/2 flume ride and 1/2 roller coaster. It was really, really fun! So fun, in fact, that we went on it 2 times in a row - there was no line! We got soaked, but that was OK. Luckily, it was warmer than usual in San Diego, so although we were wet all day (the kids also insisted we sit in the "splash zone" at the Shamu show), we dried pretty quickly.

After that, Caitlyn and I broke off to meet Curt, Jamie, Cailee and Jessica to go to the Sesame Street 4D movie, "Lights, Camera, Action". I wish I had been able to take a picture of Cailee in her 3D glasses - it was priceless! We went over to feed the dolphins, but they had ended the feeding. I did get this really cute picture of Jamie and Cailee in front of Riptide Reef where the dolphins were.

The last thing we did was the one thing Jessica had to do - go to the top of the Sky Tower. It's so cool - it rotates around and you can see the whole San Diego area. It was a nice ride, and a good end to the day. We finally left the park to the complaints of all of the girls, but I was exhausted. Of course, they were asleep 5 minutes after we left the park. I'm taking today and maybe tomorrow to recover. It was a fun trip, though!

Monday, August 18, 2008

They Got the Music in Them....

So in an effort to keep my children occupied this summer, we've enrolled them in several summer camps, most of which were inexpensive. The last one that they were signed up for before the start of school was a Musical Summer Day Camp, offered by the Indio Performing Arts Center. First of all, I didn't know Indio HAD a Performing Arts center, but it was $25 for the whole week, and they were there from 9:00 AM to noon, so they were out of the house doing something during that time. I was skeptical when I first walked in because I only saw little kids so I thought my kids might kill me.

It turns out that although it was a little corny, they learned mostly songs from early America, they had a really good time! On Friday, they had a performance for all of the parents - I was amazed at how much they learned in such a short period of time! They learned a square dance, songs, and even how to play some chords on instruments. I wish I had brought the video camera! I did have my camera, but as you can see, some of the pictures didn't come out too well. Excuse the scary glowing eyes - no they're not possessed - I promise! I guess it was just a little too dark in the theater, and I wasn't close enough.

On Saturday, Jamie and James came up with the baby to go look at a venue for their wedding next September. It's a house in Bermuda Dunes - not far from here. The place was huge - and gorgeous - PERFECT for an intimate wedding! As we were leaving, I noticed that the owner of the house, who regularly rents it out for events and celebrity getaways, had a 1972 Chevelle he was working on in the garage. It was beautiful, and reminded me of the 1967 Chevelle my friend had when we were in high school. Of course, since we lived in Connecticut at the time, it had a huge "Fred Flintstone" hole in the floor between the driver and passenger seats. Ah..good times. I told Steve about it, and he told me HE is from Connecticut! Small world...I'm hoping it'll help with my price negotiations!

Tomorrow we are doing an overnight at Sea World in San Diego. This is what the girls in our Girl Scout troop decided to do with their cookie money. We're staying in the Wild Arctic exhibit, although I know some of the girls wanted to stay in the Shark Encounter. It'll be fun. I did it with Caitlyn when she was about 6, and she had a blast. I'll try and have better pictures of that trip!

School starts 2 weeks from tomorrow - whoopee! Thank God I'm done with the back-to-school shopping! I'm going to meet with the Principal and/or the counselor at the school to try and get Jessica's schedule set up so that it makes the transition easier for her. I'm so appreciative that they have agreed to work with us - there are so many students at the school. I'm sure there will be lots to say about school after it starts!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our First Karate Tournament

We spent all day yesterday driving to, attending, and driving home from the California Summer Nationals Karate Tournament at the LA Fairplex in Pomona. We had the best time! We weren't sure what to expect, so we got there early to figure out where to go, and what time to go.

We got there in time to see one of the boys from our studio sparring - he took second place, and his family was so excited! I think one of the cool things about this studio is that everyone seems like family. They all support each other, and this tournament was no exception.

Jessica's turn wasn't until after 12:30 pm. She ended up going on around 1:00 pm. We had been walking around looking at all of the other color belts doing their thing: weapons, kata and sparring. Jessica said she was nervous, but you would never know it!

Her division was White Belts only - ages 10 - 17. I thought for sure there would be quite a few competitors since the age group was so large. It turned out to be just her and another girl from her class at our studio, Ally. Ally went first...and she did a great job! Jessica was up next, and she ROCKED IT! 'Caitlyn and Curt were so nervous, I'm not even sure they watched her! I was filming it, so I had to watch. I was so proud of her! It was so cute, when she got the first place ticket from the judge, she didn't care that it was just her and Ally - she was so excited, she came running out of the ring, "I got first! I got first!". She got her trophy, and she wouldn't put it down.

I felt kind of bad...I would really love to find something for Caitlyn to do. She didn't seem dejected, or envious of Jessica, but I know she's probably wishing she had something. I had gotten her signed up for a Volleyball Camp this summer with the Palm Desert Volleyball Club, and she did great...she had really wanted to play this year in school. However, I found out on the web site that the School District has decided to get rid of intramural sports at the Middle School level as part of the budget cuts. I'm so upset about it - these kids NEED this kind of stuff! Ah well...I will write a letter, but I'm sure that's all I can do.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July is the Birthday Month...Thank God it's almost over!

I'm watching the Red Sox vs. Yankees. Because I live on the West Coast, there are very few Red Sox games I get to watch on TV. Unfortunately for me, it seems as if ANY Red Sox game that I get to watch on TV, they lose. I know it seems superstitious, but if I have to stop watching games, I will.

In any case's the month of birthdays in our family. My husband is the 1st, mine is the 14th, and Jess's is the 18th. This year, she wanted to have her birthday party at Pump It Up - an inflatable party zone. She turned 11. Unfortunately, this place is REALLY expensive. Now I'm stuck with figuring out how to pay for it. I kept thining I was getting such a good deal, and I did: I went for the "Cozy" party, meaning only 15 kids, I had a coupon for $50.00 off for booking it during this specific weekend, I was thinking I was doing good! Then, I realized it was around dinner time - I'd have to feed everyone. So, for $12.00 for a large pizza because you HAVE to order through them (if I ordered it directly, it would have cost me $8.00), I racked up money for pizza, extra drinks for parents, etc. Now it's like I didn't have that damn coupon at all!

She did say this was the best birthday party EVER, so I guess it shouldn't be so upset about the money. It just seems, as most of us know, when it rains, it pours.
Jamie came with Cailee on the 4th - it was a pleasant surprise. Of course, I neglected to take pictures, but I'm putting one in from Mother's Day so you can see my beautiful daugher and granddaughter!

On another note, Jessica has started taking Karate, and really loves it. It's hard to be driving back and forth to Palm Desert 3 times a week with gas prices the way they are, but it is SO worth it! To see the self-confidence in her is such a great thing. Here's a picture of Jess getting her white belt. Next week they are testing to get their Master White Belts.

She started in this thanks to the Coachella Valley Autism Society and Red Dragon Karate. They offered a 6 week free class for the kids. Jessica and my nephew Jeremy both participated and both loved it enough to want to do it regularly.

Caitlyn got to do a Volleyball Camp that she enjoyed. It was hard work - it was run by the coach of a club team, but still...I think she liked it and learned a lot. She's so tall, I think Volleyball would be a good sport for her.
Only 6 weeks until school is back in session! It's not soon enough....

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back from Death's Door...First Day Back at Work

Today was my first day back at work after almost a week sick with the flu. I NEVER get sick, so this is crazy! Not too bad for a first day back, thank God I started reading the 149 unread e-mails last night! I received one e-mail from someone who was blasting me for not calling someone who could inform everyone that I would be canceling a meeting I had scheduled. Dude - I called my manager when I couldn't even THINK of logging in to look at my calendar, isn't that enough? Other than that, things were OK. Being sick I'm still shameful when I'm bitching, especially with everything that is going on with my friend, Capacious.

Her little boy is sick. And anyone who is a Mom knows that there is nothing worse than watching your child in pain. I sent cookies. That was my way of helping my friend who is 3000 miles away from me. I know chocolate chip cookies always make ME feel better!

Speaking of cookies, it's Girl Scout Cookie Time! Yes, and my girls sold a whopping 200 boxes of cookies that we need to now walk around the neighborhood and deliver. Ugh. It's better than a few years ago when my daughter wanted to sell 500 boxes to do an overnight at Sea World. I e-mailed everyone I knew, and we sold those cookies! Of course, since many of my friends live on the East Coast, it cost me over $200 to ship them all. I found out that the stupid overnight only cost $80...what was I thinking?

We do a lot of crazy things when we're parents, don't we?

My 10-year-old, Jess, went to the mountains with her 5th grade class to Science Camp on Tuesday of last week. For those of you who may not know, she is my high-functioning autistic daughter, and she is my angel. I was very nervous about letting her go, especially since her paraeducator was not allowed to go. Her teacher convinced me to let her try, and given the result, I'm still not sad that I made the decision: it was an experience for her. But after we left her on Tuesday, I just had a bad feeling. On Wednesday, her teacher called and said that they had gone on a hike, it was snowing, and it was cold and she was miserable. She cried. She begged the teacher to take them back. Her friend Aubrey even lent her the jacket off of her back. She still lamented. She wanted to go home. Her teacher had to radio back and they sent a jeep out on the trail to pick her up. My poor, sweet, flower - she is not used to the elements! At least she is not descriminatory: she hates the the cold AND the heat! Her teacher called me and we had to go and pick her up. For the first time in over 15 years, I had to drive in snow...and I was NOT happy about it. But when I got there, and I saw my poor little girl, upset and embarassed, I just scooped her up and told her it would be OK and took her home. I wish that she had been successful, but I'm very proud of her that she was brave enough to try.

Today, the teacher put a picture of some of the kids at Science Camp and asked the kids to write an essay. Jess got very quiet and refused to do the work. Her paraeducator tried to get her to write, but to no avail. Finally, her teacher came over and told her that she didn't have to write about something that was fun, she was just supposed to write whatever she thought about when she saw that picture. She drew a picture of her teacher calling back to the camp and the jeep coming to "rescue" her and wrote about that. I hope this hasn't tainted her for any future camping opportunities!

This is my first try at blogging - hope it wasn't too boring for ya'll!