Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some Days Are Harder Than Others...

This week is my company's quarter end. Its crazy and hectic and filled with tension. We have to round up every last penny, dime, and nickel to ensure that our company does well, and continues to employ us. All of us (all 25,000 of us) are worried about our jobs. For me, it's a conundrum: I don't really want to work. I'd much rather be home painting, creating, traveling to see grandchildren, cooking, so many things. It's been so long since I had the "freedom" to stay home and do things that I used to take so much for granted, and was sometimes even a little bored by. But my job is a good one, and I'm surrounded by lots of interesting, good people, and it allows me (for now anyway) to have the finest medical insurance you can have. And for someone like me, that's really important.
So I get up at 5:30, take forever and a day to get ready, drive about 29 miles to work, and spend every minute doing about 5 things at once, keeping my concentration on each one of them. Good thing I had such good training being a mommy, huh? Those years taught me a lot about organization. It's much the same at my job, only instead of 3 kids, I have about 18 of them, and they all think what they need is the most important, and they all want me to help them with what they want first. It's a delicate balancing act on most days, but on most days I still like what I do. But at the end of a day like today, I pretty much go home feeling (and most likely looking) like this:

Friday, July 24, 2009

OC Beaches Go Wild

The OC south facing beaches have been experiencing huge waves the past day or so. Today, beaches were actually being closed due to the huge crowds lining the sand to witness the waves' power up close as ten to fifteen foot waves pounded the shore. L and I got a late start, being working folk, but as soon as we got home we changed clothes and high-tailed it down to Newport/Corona Del Mar - the Wedge, to be exact.

It was awesome. There were many surfers and body surfers out in the water (there was actually someone killed at the Wedge today - thrown against the rocks by the strong surf - so only the experts were in the water tonight), and it was dramatic to watch them do their thing in waves much larger than we usually see in this area. And just a bit further out were life guard boats standing at the ready. There was an enormous crowd at the Wedge, and every time a particularly huge wave set came in they all cheered. We weren't able, by the time we got down to the beach, to get right on the Wedge - we were across the harbor on the Corona Del Mar side. But this is what we saw:

High waves were crashing over the jetty. It would be calm for a bit, and then the big sets would start to roll in again. Birds scattered, and flew above the spray.

Surfers were getting great rides. I know this is tiny and a little blurry (I have no photography skills), but can you see the tiny surfers in the back and the one in the front? That shows you how big the waves were!

Across the harbor, I could see some really big waves crashing over the Wedge, and we could hear the cheers of the crowd on the beach as other surfers braved waves that were REALLY huge. Can you see the wave in the background? It looks a little like a cloud above the Wedge, but it's a wave so large it's crashing over the rocks. And what is that dark thing in the water in front of the boat? A seal? A bird? A dolphin? Too bad I didn't notice it then. Then a REALLY REALLY big one broke. (My apologies for the blurry image, but the wave was so big and powerful that I got very excited and forgot to keep the camera steady.)
The jetty on our side of the harbor started to get pounded by the surf again, sending spray into the air. If you look closely you can see a boat just beyond the waves. That was the life guard boat - it must have been a wild ride out there!
L and I climbed up the hundred stairs from the beach to the street above, where we had a good view of what was happening over at the Wedge. The waves were much larger over there. Can you see all of the hundreds of little people (and I do mean *tiny* people - you have to look closely) standing on the beach viewing the ocean's majesty? Lots of news vans too, although they're not in this picture.

Soon enough, as you can tell by the light in these photographs, the sun started setting, and there was a lovely sunset. The best picture of the day!
Time to leave, and go get a taco at Mi Casa in Costa Mesa. I love the beach. I love it when it's quiet and soothing, and I love it when nature gets all stirred up. I'm sorry my pictures aren't better, but hopefully you can get the idea. It was an awesome sight, and a wonderful way to end the day and wind up a busy, hectic week. We came home smelling of bonfires, and with sandy feet, wild frizzy hair (me) and big smiles.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's a Sunday (or sundae) Without Ice Cream?

It's so hot today! It got up to 96 degrees, and although I know it gets much hotter in other areas (like Mesa, AZ) it was still hot enough to make me not sorry that I was in church during the hottest part of the day.

Rex has been in town for the weekend, and he came over for dinner with Ronna and the kids. I was so disappointed at first, because he said the kids weren't coming as they weren't feeling well (they've been staying at Grandma D's). But they had naps, and made a miraculous recovery, so we were able to enjoy being with them after all. I cut heart shaped watermelon pieces for Lexie with my cookie cutters, and she seemed to enjoy that. It was one of those last minute flashes of inspiration - so glad I thought of it! We had dinner, played a bit, and all too soon it was time for Rex to go to the airport. He needed to go home, as Lexie so aptly put it, to "pay the bills." Ronna and the kids will be here awhile longer, so we're hoping to see more of them.

But back to the heat: there's a little gelato place in Fullerton that is calling to us. L had a faraway look on his face, and when I asked him what I could do for him, he replied "You could take me for some ice cream later." Now, how do I refuse that? It'll be the perfect way to wind up a hot weekend, and cool us off as we prepare for a full work week ahead doing our grown-up thing. Not to mention that eating ice cream on a warm evening always gives me that wonderful, slightly sunburned, summertime feeling. I'm gonna go get my flip flops on, and grab my purse.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quiet Life, Love & Laughter

The old man and I are back to staring at each other now that the little ones, with all of their toys, and laughter, and silliness are gone. The house is so quiet and still with only the two of us bumping around in it. Mealtimes are normal and mundane. L and I don't dine on frozen peas and hot dogs. I don't have to coax him to take "just one more bite." I don't have to pretend to be scared of the roaring "Lion King" (Mia) over and over and over... and over... And no little girls making silly faces. It is very quiet.
Luckily, I like staring at L. He's my best friend. With benefits. It's been nice to get back to talking about our day, and spending some quiet time together before bed. I've missed our nightly walks, and the long conversations during them. He makes me laugh, even when I don't feel like laughing. He's good for my soul.
This is why being a grandparent is sooooo nice. You can take total credit for your grandkids' cuteness, but you're one step removed from taking the everyday responsibility for their every need. (Usually, anyway.) I find that I get nostalgic for all of the craziness and hubbub, but I would miss the quiet moments with L even more. So grandparenting is perfect for me - it's the best of both worlds. I wish everyone lived a little closer (thank goodness for Scott - he's the only one who has stuck around!), but really - it does give me an excuse to get on a plane and go for a visit.

We had a little earthquake last night. I didn't hear anything about it later, so I'm guessing it was pretty local. And small. But for just a second or two, while it was shaking, L quietly reached for my hand - for reassurance? so I wouldn't be scared? so he wouldn't be scared? It was very calming and very reassuring to have this man by my side. We watched TV for awhile more, and he tickled my back while I went to sleep. I had sweet dreams.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Crazytown Goes to Phoenix

We took Katie and Mia to John Wayne airport this evening, and sent them off to Phoenix for the next leg of their Mainland Tour. Zach's parents (Popi and Momo) were awaiting their arrival, and I hope they have as much fun as we did. Last night was our final big activity: Katie's baby shower. It was a very relaxed, informal gathering of friends and family in my brother's beautiful back yard. The evening weather was mild, and perfect for an outdoor gathering. Mia's cousin Lexi came with Ronna, and the little girls ran around the yard, squealing and giggling, and having such cousin fun. When Lexi arrived, Mia ran up and hugged "my cousin" - so sweet to see.

It was fun to see all of Katie's old friends, and catch up on their lives. Mia and Lexi spotted a lizard catching the last rays of sun on a retaining wall. They both ran back to us with excited faces, telling us about the "manimal" in the yard. I was surprised that Mia wasn't freaking out at the sight of a lizard, but I think since Lexi wasn't scared, she wasn't either. Instead, she got to see something interesting. Cousins are good for each other. At the end of the evening, the two little girls wanted to take a bath together, and they were delighted to splash and play together for awhile longer. I was truly sorry to see the evening come to an end. Between sweet baby gifts, sweet friendships and family, and 2 sweet little girls, I had a wonderful time. And Katie had the time of her life, which made it all worthwhile.

Today was spent packing, and packing, and packing... so much to pack up! Mia wanted to know if Mema was going on the plane too...*SIGH* If only I could... L came home early from work for the big farewell, and to help with the heavy lifting (2 bins of STUFF!) at the airport. Mia was hooked up to her Curious George backpack leash (because she can be a naughty monkey at the worst possible times - like in a crowded airport), and she looked a little confused about what was happening. It had been a big day, but she still had big hugs for Mema and Papa. Oh! it was hard to see them walk into the terminal!
So now, I'm preparing to go back to work tomorrow, and I'm feeling very grumbly about it. I still have things to look forward to, however. Ronna and the kids are still here for a couple more weeks, and son Rex (Ronna's other half) will arrive tomorrow for a long weekend visit. It will be wonderful to see him. And that automatically means seeing Ronna and the kids again, and that makes me smile.
So many memories were made in the past nine days. So many little anecdotes to tell, so many cute sayings. These will be my memories of our 2 sweet princesses at 3 years old, and our little pirate at one year. (Who, by the way, is the fastest crawler I've ever seen!) All of the hugs, and playing, learning to take turns, Mia's big smile for Mema every morning, Matthew's blue eyes and mellow nature, and, for the girls: EVERYTHING PRINCESS -
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray these memories I'll always keep. It was wild, it was chaotic, it was maddening at times - but it was a wonderful nine days that I'll relive over and over in my head for quite some time. And yes, now that the madness is over, its too quiet here. I need a few days to adjust back to Quiet and Orderly. But do I really want to? Well now - there's the question.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Can't Life Behave Like That Movie In My Head?

Today was a pool day. Ronna and the kids (Lexi and Matthew) and Katie and Mia joined me at our neighborhood pool for some swimming and fun. Matthew started to fall asleep as he sat on the pool's top step with me. Ronna had gone to (where else?) McDonald's to get the girls some lunch, so Katie got out of the pool and held him in the shade, where he promptly fell fast asleep in the middle of a bite of baby food.
That left old Mema in the pool with two crazy swimming girls. So they took turns swimming with me back and forth across the pool, and I was worn out in no time! When we'd all had enough, we trekked back to the house, sunburned and tired, where Mia went down for her nap. Very reluctantly. The other two cousins were soon out the door, and on their way back to their napping place. I watched Katie make some flower clips for Mia's hair, and I couldn't help but think about that shower I had not yet taken, and how badly I wanted to take it. The stumbling block to that coveted shower was Miss Mia asleep in my bed - and the other bathroom is still torn up. (No end in sight to that project as of this date...) So I patiently waited...and waited... and then Katie went up to take her shower and woke Mia up.
While Katie showered, Mia and I played with stickers. We had Princess stickers, jewel stickers, glittered stickers - well, you get the idea. We made some beautiful stuff, let me tell you. The problem with small children and stickers is that they can't seem to leave the stickers alone. They want to stick them, and take them off, and restick them over and over. I'm a fairly controlling person, and it takes every ounce of self control I possess to sit idly by, and watch this sticker destruction. *sigh* I was pretty good though - I only had to reposition one long strand of jeweled stickers. I couldn't take the fact that it was hanging off the sheet of paper. But that's what happens when two artists have different visions.
Katie and Mia were having their pictures taken by Katie's good friend, Michelle (whose photography skills you can admire here), so they were out the door at 6:00, and I could finally take my long-desired and much needed shower. But as I watched them drive down the street, knowing full well that I was done, so done, and the quiet was going to be nirvana, what did I do? I started to cry, because I already was missing my daughter. What is wrong with me???? Honestly, I think I'm going crazy sometimes. The older I get, the harder it is to get close to that picture of life's perfection I have in my head. I think my future involves some very necessary therapy, and I'm sure one thing the shrink will find is that I'm simply missing alone time with my daughter. (I am the amateur psychiatrist, after all) I keep having a vision of a whole day at a spa with her. Maybe when they return to the States, and Unborn Baby and Mia are a little older we can give ourselves that treat. Until then, I guess I just dream of the day, and act irrationally every time they leave.

On a lighter note, here's a couple of pictures of my son Scott and his friend Ashley (who we all fell in love with this weekend while she was here visiting from Florida). Katie took these at Huntington Beach while I entertained Mia by throwing shells and small pebbles into the waves. The last picture especially illustrates how wonderfully she fits into the loveable and unique goofiness of Scott. They are such a cute couple. We all want to keep her.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Birthday Finale With Cousins

This has been the week of birthdays. In our family, a person's birthday tends to last for about a week. First we celebrate with immediate family, then with grandma and grandpa, then we go to Disneyland and have a birthday lunch there, and finally the big finale: the entire family birthday party. (And this is just our side of the family - Mia still has Daddy's side in Arizona to celebrate with!) Yesterday was the whole family extravaganza. It was a pool party, and the weather was perfect for swimming. Ronna, Lexi, and Matthew were here from Colorado, so the cousins got in some pool time together. At first Mia didn't know what to think of Lexi, but when she noticed that Lexi had her Disney Princess bathing suit on too - well, now, HERE is a friend!

Everyone swam and played, got out and ate pigs in blankets and fresh strawberries and watermelon wedges, and swam some more. Luckily, we had made cupcakes for everyone, because Mia refused to let a knife cut into her frothy pink "bootday cake" that Katie had decorated for her. We almost had some drama over it. Mia would open a gift, and then take a swipe of pink icing with her finger. Open another gift, and another goop of icing. Whatever - she's the "bootday" girl, after all. We wanted pink cake not so much after that.

My almost-98 year old grandmother was able to come and have fun with us too. She didn't swim, but she did everything but that. It just isn't a real party unless Grandma is there. We had5 generations there, plus several friends and their little ones. I was pretty busy running back and forth to the house for this and that, so I never took any pictures (so typical). Katie took this darling one of Matthew eating cake: I'll post some later of Mia and her cake - she thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of her party! It was a really fun afternoon - thanks Katie, for a great party!

After we'd all had enough of the water and sun, the guests left to go home, and all of the little cousins and their moms came back to the house. It was mayhem! The playroom was strewn with toys, and soon one little birthday girl became very overwhelmed by it all. We decided it was time for every one to chill out a little bit so we went downstairs and put in Mia's new My Little Pony DVD. Mia and Lexi shared the beanbag chair, and sat quietly eating frozen peas from their Princess bowls. (Yes, for some reason, frozen peas seems to be quite the delicacy with the little girls...) And then they decided to dance. They swayed and shimmied and twirled all around the wood floor. They kept asking each other "You wanna dance? Let's dance!" Once Mia lost her balance and fell (she's inherited her Mema's grace), and she called out to Lexi "Help me up!" Lexi extended her hand, pulled her up, and the dancing began anew. Charming.

Before the daylight was gone, Katie took the kids outside and snapped some pictures of them. Even though it was just a quick photo shoot, she got some real winners:
Ronna and the kids soon went back to Riverside (where they're visiting their other grandma), and Katie gave Mia a bath and got her to sleep. Then we stayed up until the wee hours talking while she edited the new photos she'd taken that day, and we both nursed sore, swollen and aching feet. (She's pregnant - I'm just old, I guess!) It was fun to have some time to ourselves, but I think she paid for staying up so late when Mia was wide awake at 6am!

After church and some lunch, I sent both Katie and Mia off for a nap, and I am enjoying some quiet time to blog. It's been so fun to have everyone here for the past twelve days, but by the end of the day I'm really dragging my tail. However, I have the feeling it will end just as it always does: right when I'm used to all the activity and commotion, they will go home, and I'll spend the next few days trying to adjust to an empty, quiet house that so recently was full of spunk and sparkle when Mia and Katie were here. I have such a hard time finding that balance between feeling too chaotic and soooo lonely when the circus leaves town. I'm working on it, but I'm definately a Mema in progress.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Princess Mia Meets the Other Five

I'm sitting her listening to John Schmidt's lovely piano. It always makes me feel a little melancholy because his compositions are so achingly beautiful. It makes me want to get my piano repaired (big job/much neglect over the years) and start to play again. One day.

L is packing to go to Utah to see Andrew - probably part of the reason for the melancholy. I have plenty to do here, but I do miss him when he's gone. Phone conversations just aren't the same as cuddling in bed discussing the day's events, and having a laugh or two. Or many. But really, if you don't know who John Schmidt is, you should go to i-Tunes and find out. His music can make you alternately a little sad (as previously mentioned) but also quite joyous. I love music that can run the gamut of emotions. His compositions are amazing, and just what I need after an entire day at Disneyland.
Did you hear me? We were SEVEN HOURS at Disneyland today! With a three year old!! I would have bet you that we'd be there 3-4 hours tops. But what fun we had! We saw Sleeping Beauty's castle - so thrilling for a little girl who had talked about it all morning! We had a ride on the gorgeous old carousel. Then - and THEN - we had lunch with the Princesses at Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure. Oh. My Goodness. I've never seen Miss Mia so excited. She literally jumped up and down in place while waiting her turn with each princess. There were five in all: Ariel, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, Snow White, and Cinderella. She knew each one, and was so thrilled when her turn came. Honestly, I wish I had a video to show you, it was that cute. Katie took lots of pictures, but my memory card filled up (augh!! I need to get a bigger one!) and most of mine weren't that good. But look at this one with Cinderella. She was in awe. It was worth every one of the bazillion dollars I had to pay to have this experience with Princess Mia.
After lunch we walked back to the Disneyland side and rode Small World TWICE. Mia went once with Mama, and once with Mema. After that, we decided to test our luck and see if Mia would be able to last the 30 minute wait for Pixie Hollow, and a visit with Tinkerbell. She was so good, and was able to have some cute pictures taken with Tink and another fairy called Silvermist. I got her a Tink doll on the other end (there is never a missed opportunity to take your money!), and she loved that silly doll the rest of the afternoon. Again, worth every dollar.
We hiked back to the California Adventure side again, sat through a show at Mickey's Clubhouse. She clapped and jumped, (and one time decided she wanted to go onstage! Mama had to discourage that and quickly distract), and thoroughly enjoyed the singing, bubbles, and characters that are part of the show. Anyone with a small child should be sure to go to this, although be forewarned: you have to sit on the floor!
We arrived back home tired, more than a little bit hot and sweaty, but with enough magical memories to send me into a sweet sleep tonight. I think we locals sometimes get jaded and weary of Disneyland. But when we get a chance to take a small child for their first visit, it's amazing how the magic and detail come sharply into focus again. It truly does become The Happiest Place on Earth.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Adventures In Babysitting

This morning I got to do one of my favorite things: get my hair cut and COLORED. Boy - it only takes 4 weeks this days, and that gray is just screaming to come out. But Betsy fixed it's wagon, and my hair is lovely again, with freshly cut bangs (another favorite thing, because after I trim them a couple of times, they're looking a little haggard and wonky.)
And now I am doing one of my least favorite things: babysitting. Except this time it's for Mia, which makes it a lot more fun. Katie wanted to go have a lunch in peace and sanity with her good friend Chelsea (of the BYU Hawaii days), and I can't say I blame her. Trying to eat in a restaurant with a toddler is not relaxing. Not at all. So Mema read Mia four - count them - FOUR stories before nap time: The Runaway Bunny, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Hippos Go Berserk, and the ever-popular Goodnight Moon. My copy of Goodnight Moon is missing a couple of pages - it's been well loved over the past 30 years. But I know the thing by heart, and luckily Mia didn't notice their absence.
We finished our stories, and I was starting to feel the sweat on my brow as I made my way out of the room after the giggliest goodnap (as opposed to goodnight) kiss ever. I was sure she would refuse to sleep, and start yelling. But I guess the old girl still has it (actually, Katie is a great mom who has just instilled the drill into her) and Mia settled down quietly. I heard one little squeak a few minutes ago - (dang, I wanted to finish this!) but I stopped myself from rushing into the room just in time, and it seems she's settled back down. YAY!! Practice, that's all - I just need practice, right?

When she wakes up, we're going to bust out the Nemo Slip n' Slide, and have some fun. L bought that for Mia last summer, (actually, these pictures are both from a year ago) and it's been waiting in the garage for her return. It makes me wish I could still take that running leap, and slide down it's slippery, splashy length with my tongue out catching the water drops that fly into my face. Childhood summers come flooding back into memory as I watch her small body move with such freedom and joy.

I mean, just look at that tongue hanging out - someone is having a good time!

Then it will be an early bath and bedtime for Miss Mia. Tomorrow is a big day: DISNEYLAND.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mia and the Spider

The girls are here: Katie and Mia. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start, as Mema (me) is not used to keeping up with 3 year olds. Mema is not used to running up and down stairs 10 times an hour. Mema is not used to dealing with the serendipitous appetites of small, busy girls. Mema got a little cranky and cried a little bit (OK - a lot) about her lack of super grandma skills. But Mema has an amazing daughter who really is the grownup at all times (unlike Mema), and she also has a really good husband who tells her to buck up. And so she did.
By the time it was time to go to the park for fireworks, we were all having a good time. Mia's eyes sparkled and she kept turning around and saying "This's fun, Mema, huh?" And Mema had to agree that YES - this was fun. Having a sweet little girl choose your lap to sit in for the fireworks show is definately fun. My grandma self esteem went up many notches after that.

Today was a busy one. Katie and Mia visited Michelle and Maddy in the morning, whilst I tried to get some things for the big birthday party this Saturday. At noon we all met at my parents' house in Newport Beach for some lunch and swimming. Mia donned her mermaid swimsuit and goggles and swam like a...well...a mermaid. My dad got in the pool, and she jumped to him, and swam all around him. All with her goggles in place so she could see underwater. She loves to swim. I wish I had gotten some pictures, but - of course - I'd forgotten my camera. Katie took some, so I'll get some from her. My family (except for Katie) is camera impaired, but Katie is so extraordinary that she makes up for the rest of us.

After swimming, we made a stop at The Rhinstone Guy in Santa Ana. Katie makes beautiful hairclips for little girls' hair from silk flowers that are all fancied up with Swarovski crystals. You can see some of them at http://miamoodesigns.blogspot.com/ Oh - and she puts the crystals on the cutest flip flops. Mia has several pairs of these - darling! Anyway - I'm getting to my cute story of the day. While we were waiting for Katie to make her selections, Mia spotted a big long legged spider crawling along the baseboard of the place. Mia doesn't like bugs and she started to freak out a little bit, pointing and saying "Scarey spider!" I took her on my lap and said that he was a friendly fellow. So she turned her big eyes to me and said "Yeah, fwendly, huh?" I told her that he didn't want to hurt her - he was just on his way home to get a hot dog and a cold drink. She watched the spider for a minute, thinking it over. Then she looked at me and asked, "With ice?" Yeah - that's what I love about 3 year olds. They don't even question a hot dog-eating spider.

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