Monday, August 30, 2010

Little House of Horrors

Our garage door broke earlier this month. The spring just snapped. For this I am thankful. We had no idea, but the garage was trying to kill us.

My husband came back from running errands, and told me the garage door was no longer working and I'd have to park in the driveway until it was fixed. It's summer in Central California, which means that I either have to find a way to cool down the car before getting in, or risk needing skin grafts as the lava hot car seat melds itself with my thighs. Not only do I have to deal with the lava, but my children do too.

Okay, so those of you that live in normal areas may just think to turn on the air conditioning, go inside the house, get the kids, and when you come back out, things will have cooled to boiling - good enough. Well, did I also mention we live in the car theft capital of the WORLD? Oh yes, our county and those surrounding us regularly rank in the top five in the nation. Seriously. No one around here even leaves their doors open to cool off the car, much less turns the thing on and air conditions it for the theives just waiting around the corner.

I finally decided to bring Gracie to the car first, and chance leaving the windows open to help cool the car down. I figured she'd get used to the phrase "I'll be right back" and any thief worth their salt would know better than to try and steal a vehicle with a toddler in the back seat. Then I'd run back in to get Mark and my purse...

Errands would need to be kept to a minimum until this was fixed.

Thankfully, the landlords had the garage door fixed in just a couple of days. Before the guy got here, our garage door spring looked like this:

Snapped right in two. The repair man said he called about the warranty and could replace the left side with no problem, and it looked like the right side was... hey, what's this?

The right side of the door had this attached:

Apparently, holding together your garage door spring with a few bolts and a spare piece of steel you found lying around is frowned upon.

When the repairman saw that, he said "This could have killed somebody!". Not exactly what you want to hear when cradling your four month old in your arms. He needed to call the warranty guys again.

Please, please do.

In less than thirty minutes, the springs had been replaced, and I was summoned to sign the work order. "By the way," the repairman said "You also have these two fluorescent lights plugged into the overhead door opener. It's a fire hazard, and if anything ever went wrong with your garage door opener, the warranty would be voided because you're not supposed to rig the thing like this."

This was said very politely, but with the slightest hint of a smile that said we weren't the brightest people on the block. I felt the need to explain that we had only been renting a few months, and that none of these contraptions were our doing. He smiled smugly, unplugged the lights and then went on his way. (I would have taken a before photo of the lighting menagerie too, but was already too embarrassed and didn't want to ask him to wait so I could take a picture of our fire hazard for my blog.)

I now park in the garage. Gracie is still the first one to the car, and our seats are only habanero hot, as opposed to magma. But, I am most grateful for the fact that we no longer have fire hazards and guillotines awaiting our every move. Who knew the garage could be so hazardous?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Week Gone...

We didn't have anything planned this week, and didn't go anywhere or visit anyone. Well, we took a walk to the grocery store, but we only bought eggs... does that still count? I was afraid this lack of activity would make for a very mundane post. Obviously I haven't been doing this SAHM thing very long...

Our Monday started out with this:

It was after taking these pictures that I realized Grace not only filled up her potty....
...but the big potty too!

After fishing these out of the toilet (a great start to any Monday), we went to the living room to watch Elmo. Apparently the lack of her blankie did not deter Gracie from finding something to cover her lap...

What other kind of trouble can I think up for today?

Finally, while I was feeding Mark, Gracie went into the dining room and disappeared around the corner. It got very, very quiet. Never a good sign.

Gracie had unlocked the sliding glass door, opened it, gone outside and turned the sprinklers on! Oh boy.

And this was only Monday?

Thankfully the rest of the week proved fairly uneventful. We had lots of fun just playing here at the house. Here are the highlights of Another Week Gone...

We played Starfall. This is a great program for anyone who has pre-schoolers learning their ABC's or learning to read. We find ourselves spending about a half hour a day playing "Cees!".

Gracie also played with her brother on his play mat. He found this to be great fun, and she enjoyed trying to get his toys to him:

Blogger won't let me rotate this picture,
but mommy thinks it's too cute not to include!
We played with our puzzles. Gracie demonstrated the best way to hold the pieces, and made sure we each got a chance to try it out:

Just like this!
Great job Mark!

Here you go mommy!

Daddy got to come home from work early on Wednesday, so we played with him, and then took a walk to the grocery store, where they give out cookies to the kids for free. Gracie just started saying "Please" for the first time this week (previously she would only sign the word please, but not say it outloud) and was so cute asking for her "co-kee, peas"!

Fun with daddy, a.k.a. Jungle Gym
Evidence of her chocolate chip cookie
remained after our walk
Gracie also loves to help empty the dishwasher, and this week she helped me load it for the first time. Not too bad sweetie!

We really need to work on putting the plates a little farther apart...

Finally, I asked Grace to get into her high chair for lunch. This was the result:

As always, it was a very fun week. And despite not going lots of places, we still managed to tire our little ones out...

Hope you enjoy the little ones in your life this week!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Home Sweet Home

The Grand Sierra Resort is familiar to Robert and I, as we have stayed there before. Only then it was known by the quaint name 'Reno Hilton'. Now it has some updated rooms (which we didn't stay in) and abbreviates its name as GSR... which makes me think "Gun Shot Residue" thanks to my husband's addiction to CSI: Las Vegas. But this was Reno, so we're OK. I didn't see any dead bodies. But there were dogs. Lots of dogs.

Apparently GSR is a very dog friendly hotel. Gracie was delighted to see all kinds of "woof-woofs" in the lobby, elevator, hallways and out near the pool. I only got one blurry shot of this phenomenon inside the hotel, even though at various times we shared an elevator with a labrador, corgie, and others throughout the weekend.

Most of our weekend was spent just relaxing and catching up with our friend Eddie. We did find out that the hotel not only offered roll away beds, but also toddler beds and cribs! We got a crib for Gracie, and it worked out great. What did not work out great was having all four of us in one room for the entire night.

Mark is not always a quiet sleeper. And Grace is not always a solid sleeper. Combine these two elements and you end up with an infant crying in the dark at 2 am, and a toddler crying in the light at 2:30 am. Ugh.

Obviously, Robert and I did not sleep well, and I ended up holding Mark a good portion of the night so that everyone else could get some sleep. The next morning we had breakfast and packed it in to leave for home. I was exhausted, but thankful I wouldn't have to drive.

Before we said goodbye, we took some pictures with Eddie:

Nice picture, except the man next to me is not my husband.
And those are not his children.

A better picture, except the man on the left is my husband, and the man next to him is not his wife.
We didn't think to ask Eddie to take a picture of our family... I don't know why.

Gracie had fun playing on the giant horse statue at the front of the hotel:

Um, you're not supposed to pick other noses either sweetie.
Guess we'll have to work on that one.

Finally, it was time to head home. I don't know about you, but at the end of any vacation, when it's time to go home I just want to be home. Poof. No driving, flying, or other delays - just get me to my own bed. I was completely exhausted, having had only about an hour of sleep the night before, and was combatting both a headache and stomachache (probably stemming from the fact we'd only had restaurant food since Saturday morning).

Thankfully, Gracie made it through the mountains just fine on the way home. Unfortunately, Mark did not. He didn't get car sick, but he decided to start screaming at the top of his lungs on the way down the mountain. We can only guess that his ears were bothering him.

Gracie was not impressed.

Once we were back on the valley floor, not only did Mark continue to scream, but as lunchtime approached we found ourselves on the road with the nine million other Californians that live here. Welcome to an hour delay with a screaming infant - just what every parent hopes for:

Ironically, Eddie and I had been talking about something similar just that morning. We were talking about having sleep deprivation, being stuck in a small space, not having enough to eat, and the sounds of a loud, screaming infant in the background.

Only he was talking about torture techniques used on prisoners.

Once we got through traffic we stopped so I could feed Mark, and daddy could take Gracie to the potty (of course). Mark still cried for another 20 minutes until finally, he fell asleep. When we got back home, we made sure to tell everyone how much fun it was, and even that we were considering going back next year.

Without the kids.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reno was a Gamble

"Bump" was putting it mildly... traveling
with two kids should come with it's own hazard sign!

Two months ago, my husband says to me, "How would you like to go to Reno?"
I looked at my two month old son, who had finally stopped screaming to be fed and was now nursing contentedly. I quickly responded, "Sure. Sounds fun."

Famous last words.

For some reason, when Robert first suggested this, I imagined it would only be the two of us headed to Reno for the weekend. Why I thought I could leave a breastfeeding four month old behind was beyond me. Obviously sleep deprivation was still in full force.

Upon further investigation, I found out that my husband's best friend, Eddie, was going to be at a conference in Reno. Eddie moved to Colorado about four years ago; since Reno is only a few hours away, it seemed like a great idea to meet him there. It was also during this conversation I realized both Crumb Crunchers would be coming with us.

You know what? It still sounded like fun.

As the weekend approached, Rob and I planned very carefully what we would bring and how we would cram it all into the back of the SUV. As is typical, we were allotted half of a small suitcase. The other half of the suitcase and 47 cubic feet of SUV were allotted for the children. We debated on whether or not we would need to rent a U-haul trailer for the two day trip. (Kidding! Sort of...)

Come to find out, we have better packing skills than we thought. We even managed to fit the double stroller inside the vehicle. The car was packed and ready to roll on Friday night, with the exception of all those last minute items you don't want to pack until just before you leave. You know, toothbrushes. Pillows. The kids.

I haven't woken up to an alarm since Mark was born. Certainly this was a momentous occasion, to have the alarm blaring at 4 am. Robert and I were almost giddy with excitement. We haven't been on a road trip since last October, when we went to Monterey for my birthday.

(You know, the one where we were asleep in the hotel room by nine p.m. because I was pregnant and exhausted? Remember? It was the time Robert ended up getting food poisoning from the seafood on the pier... You still don't recall? Oh. Right. I wasn't blogging yet. Trust me. Our last road trip was GREAT.)

Our plan was to be on the road by five. Thirty minutes to shower and do last minute packing, thirty minutes to nurse the baby, and then... we'd be on our way! We hoped to arrive in Reno around nine, just in time for a nice breakfast with Eddie.

We left at six. We arrived in Reno four and a half hours later. I was starving, and Gracie had been saying "poo-poo" since the state line...

We left at six because we took our sweet time getting our rear ends out the door. As excited as we were, we weren't about to start the day griping at each other to hurry, or doling out punishment to Gracie for wanting to dote over her new step stool.

(The minute she saw it that morning, I knew we had made a mistake. We should
have waited until Monday to bring it into the house. Too late now!
No, she couldn't be bothered with putting her pants back on
before trying to reach the faucet.)

After feeding the baby, getting milk and waffles ready, and allowing Grace to sit, stand, and even try to climb inside her new step stool, we finally made it out of the driveway.

The first part of the trip went smashingly. I just knew this was going to be fun!
Mark was asleep before we hit the freeway, and Gracie was gazing out the window, quietly watching the world go by as she worked to wake up. An hour later the foothillls gave way to towering pines, reminding us of the lake we love to visit each summer. Grace had finished her milk and waffle, was quietly playing with her "woof, woof" and reading books. I was snapping pictures and chatting with Robert. All was well with the world, and we were only an hour off schedule.

Just before reaching the top of the mountain, I looked back to ask Gracie how she was doing. She looked fine, but I noticed a small amount of spit up on her shirt... Wait a minute. Mark is the only one in the family who is supposed to spit up.

Five minutes later we found ourselves here:

This is the last rest stop before reaching the Nevada state line. Apparently, I have a child who gets car sick. Or at least should not eat graham crackers, waffles and milk and then read a good book just before heading into the mountains.

Gracie was surprisingly good through the entire ordeal. She whimpered just a bit, as she ended up completely car sick just moments before we pulled off the road. We could only thank the Lord the rest stop and the car sickness coincided as they did, because the next place to stop was over thirty minutes away.

Mommy took care of Gracie in the rest room, while daddy took care of the car seat. And the clothing. And the blankie. And the doggie. And... well, you get the picture:

Right about this time was when Mark decided he needed some attention too, so I nursed him while we waited for Gracie's car seat cover to dry out a little. Gracie had a great time at the rest stop; but soon enough she donned her sunglasses, and was ready to get back on the road:

It actually worked out fine, as we probably would have needed to stop at some point anyway to feed the baby. We strapped Grace back into the car seat sans clothes and car seat cover, figuring this would make it easier to hose her down at the next stop if the need arose. She didn't seem to know that rest stops weren't made for exactly this sort of thing, and was none the worse for wear:

Thankfully, the most excitement we had after this was trying to figure out how to get luggage, strollers, play pens, pillows and all the other gear into an elevator with a labrador retriever. Oh, that story will have to wait until next time.

We arrived in Reno with all the excitement we'd started out with, and only a mild odor coming from the very back of the car.

Now if only the trip home had gone that well...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Week Gone...

Wow. And I thought last week was busy. Let's just jump right in!

We saw our friend Eddie in Reno and had a great time
(A post about this trip will be published as soon as I recover from this week)

Auntie Ginger from Missouri came to visit

Tickles from Auntie
Hey, I could get used to this kissing stuff!

Gracie loved coloring with Auntie

We went to visit Cousin Noah at his house

Did you see the big truck?
Noah waving "hi" to Mark, and saying "Hi Baby!"
Noah calling someone to see if he and Gracie could come to play
I think he was calling Mark

We spent the night at Papa and DeeDee's house and did lots of fun things. Grace was a big helper, doing lots of chores and having fun:

Feeding the Cats

Feeding the Horse

Taking out the Trash

Washing the Dishes
(Yes, in the bathtub. They are in the midst of a kitchen remodel.)

Which turned into Washing the Bathtub

And Ended in Washing Gracie

Picking Apples...

...and feeding them to the dog

Playing on the slide

Reading with Papa before bedtime

And lastly, having friends over to visit

Look! It's a horse!
Gracie learning how to share "her" swing
And sharing snacks and a seat with her friend Sarah

Whew! What a week. It's finally Friday. We had so much fun this week going here and there and visiting with so many people. Next week we have absolutely nothing planned. And right now, that sounds fun too.