Monthly Archives: December 2009

Holidays, Part II.

Okay, so we haven’t all killed each other yet, despite being in close proximity to one another for several days.

So that’s good.

As promised, here are a few photos from this season:

The kids visited Santa as part of a Santa Walk at a nearby park. It was chilly, and we walked REALLY FAST to see all the lights, but it was fun. Ethan even talked about it today – “Remember when we went to that place with the hot chocolate and the geese?”

So yeah, that made an impression.

Here they are with Santa:

Santa Visit

And then we had Christmas morning proper.

Don't let her have scissors digital USB microscope The truck that you have to go this way to make it turn that way and that way to make it turn this way Can YOUR dump truck lift a Slinky

And we also had….

THIS:

White Christmas

Snow! On Christmas!

Now for the rest of the past week:

We had more of that white stuff today, and before going out to play the kids posed in what I thought of as a half-angry, bundled-up American Gothic:

Vinnie's ass is always in the shot

Ethan says that’s his “Grinch Face,” by the way.

And then SOMEBODY left the dryer door open, which led to this…

He only does this because he knows it gets under Greg's skin

…which I promptly e-mailed to Greg, who, cat-hater that he is, responded as expected.

So we’re having a good time.

Holidays, Part I.

I really don’t have a lot to say about Christmas this year, mainly because ours was blissfully uneventful. I do have some photos though, which I will post when I can. What can I say? I’ve been lax.

Until then, this will have to keep everyone occupied – it certainly kept me occupied with hours of coding and kept Greg occupied with hours of stomping around the roof while I had him move snowflakes ‘just a couple of shingles left; now a couple of shingle rows down. No wait, put it back where it was originally.’

My husband is a very patient man. This does not mean he doesn’t shake his head wonderingly at me when I do this kind of thing. Ask him sometime about the Christmas he hung all the lights on the eaves and I decided I didn’t like them and asked him to take them down.

And he did, with very minimal complaint. That’s why he’s so friggin’ awesome.

So here it is, the 2009 Light Show. Greg stood outside in the cold, with a cold, in the neighbor’s yard for this. I had to dub the music over, of course, so I matched it up as well as I could. We hope you enjoy it :

 

Next year, more channels!

Bahamian Rhapsody.

About a year ago we decided to take a cruise to the Bahamas. We planned and plotted and researched and paid and lo, last Thursday the Big Bahamian Cruise finally arrived.

The flight we were taking required waking up at 3 a.m. (Greg and I were up at 2:30, of course) in order to be at the airport by 4:30. We made it, but then waited several minutes on a parking shuttle. Even so, we were at Lambert by 4:45. We had a 6 a.m. flight.

That’s when things started going wrong.

We walked into the terminal only to find lines. Lots of lines. Lines with lots and lots of people – more than I had ever seen at 4:45 a.m. at Lambert.

So we waited. We needed to check luggage, and were waiting to check in. Some Delta rep came and got us out of line after we told him we were checked in and just needed to drop our luggage and get boarding passes. He sent us to a self-help kiosk. Great, right? We could print our passes and just slide our luggage in?

Nope. We were told we had to get BACK IN THE LINE to drop our luggage. Yes, the line we had just abandoned, that now had about 30 more people in it.

At that point it was getting uncomfortably close to flight time and of course we still had to go through security. Greg took the luggage back out to curbside check-in while I hustled the kids over to security…which had MORE BIG LINES.

Ridiculous, I swear. A ridiculous situation was made even more ridiculous because the airline’s excuse was that they were moving 2,000 military members through Lambert that day…which means, of course, they KNEW how many to expect and should have staffed accordingly.

I got the kids through security, managing to avoid screaming at the TSA broad who insisted our sweatshirts were jackets and must come off – bitch – and got the kids through.

Meanwhile, Greg arrived at the front of HIS line to check the luggage only to find that it was 5:31 and they stop printing luggage tags 30 minutes prior to the flight – so 5:30. I guess Greg started looking a little wild-eyed because the baggage guy put another kind of tag on the luggage and Greg worked his way to security.

And I haven’t mentioned that our connection in Atlanta was scheduled for 47 minutes after our arrival, have I? Have I?

When the kids and I arrived at the gate it was 5:45 and despite my explanation of the situation, one of the gate clerks – who was also a bitch -  told me they were going to close the door and the kids and I should just go ahead and get on and leave Greg.

Yeah, right. Like we’re going to do that.

So then the other gate clerk – who was not a bitch – revealed that they were missing 30 other passengers from the flight who were ALSO stuck in security.

I started calling Greg about every 5 minutes to find out where he was. Meanwhile, he was jumping the ropes at security to get through.

Anyway, we made it. Barely. Greg had to run. (hehe) The flight left late but still arrived in Atlanta on time, so we were okay.

After that crazy stress, Jacksonville was looking better and better. We stood in line for some time, but finally made it on the boat, which set sail at 4 p.m.

Greg, the kids, and I had a good time exploring the boat that evening. The kids went to Camp Carnival (more on that later) and had a great time while Greg and I relieved our stress at one of the many, many bars. A cruise ship is nothing if not a floating Vegas.

After gathering the kids, the youngest of whom was made up like a pirate, we worked our way back to our stateroom, marveled at the folded towel animals, and fell asleep.

Scary PirateTowel Elephant

 

At some point during the night we entered a storm and the boat got rocky – really rocky – and we were lurching around in bed. After giving up the ghost as far as sleep was concerned, I kept falling over in the shower and wow, was I sick (I had taken medicine, but the ship was really rolling around). I needed to get up top and eat as soon as possible.

After eating I felt a lot better, so we dropped the kids off at Camp C again and went to reschedule our shore excursion (which was, of course, canceled because of the weather).

We settled in to arrive at Freeport.

But we didn’t arrive at Freeport.

Shortly before we were supposed to arrive at Freeport, our overly-ebullient cruise director came on the intercom to tell us hey, you know, we can’t go to Freeport, sorry, we know you wanted to go to Freeport but no dice. Oh, but we’re going ahead on to Nassau, and we should get there around 8 p.m. tonight, so you’ll have extra time there!

But of course we wouldn’t have extra time. Why? Because we have KIDS WHO GO TO BED EARLY.

And it rained much of the day. Spirits were flagging. Laurel spent a lot of time doing this:

how laurel spent much of her time

I spent a lot of time doing this:

How I Spent Most of My Time 

And the ship spent a lot of time looking like this:

Up top - wet deck

Still, we were out of the worst of the storm and was popping Dramamine like candy so I felt a lot better. I played a trivia game with Mom and Greg and won a 24 karat gold plated plastic ship-on-a-stick. Ethan didn’t want to stay at Camp C so after picking him up we watched the boat dock in Nassau. Great, right?

But.

Then he wanted to go back to Camp C and we took him – and then they paged us. In fact, every time we took Ethan to Camp C after that they paged us for the most minor of reasons. Once it was because he told them ‘No!’ when they said it was time to pick up the toys. Eyeroll. Clearly the workers are not parents. Naturally, the Big Crisis was always over by the time we got up there, but we couldn’
t do anything without interruption.

I was glad to be docked, because the next morning I felt fine and we even had some blue between the clouds!

Docked in Nassau - and there is blue in the sky!

Before setting out for the day we had breakfast, which, thankfully, included boiled eggs, because boiled eggs keep Ethan busy so everyone else can eat:

Occupied - for the moment

We bounced off the ship for our excursion in a glass bottom boat. The kids had a good time and while I had hoped for a little more “wow factor,” they were giving out free rum punch so I couldn’t complain.

Shore Excursion

After returning to the dock we watched the Bahamian police direct traffic for a few moments before we bought Laurel a swimsuit because Laurel goes to the Bahamas without packing a swimsuit:

Mr. Policeman

And then hopped a jitney out to Arawak Cay, locally known as Fish Fry. Jitney drivers in the Bahamas are like cab drivers in Chicago. You take your life into your own hands when you hop aboard. They honk at the motorists, the motorists honk at them, but it’s a lot of fun and it just exudes local flavor.

Twin Brothers at fish fry

Lunch: Conch fritters, conch salad, cracked conch…sensing a theme here? We washed all of it down with Kalik, the local beer – which is fine but nothing to write home about. Similar to Budweiser.

conch fritters

conch salad

cracked conch with peas and rice and plantains

Our waitress was friendly, but do yourself a favor – do not ever be in a hurry or expect good service in the Bahamas. They are slow, slow, slow. We were trying to fit so much into a short period of time and we still wanted to go to the beach, so while Greg hunted for our waitress, the kids and I went along to another restaurant for some Sky Juice (gin & coconut water) and guava duff, the local dessert. Okay, I had the Sky Juice, I didn’t give any to the kids. Promise. heh.

guava duff at Goldie's

Next we caught another jitney to Cable Beach. This was a highlight. I bought conch shells from some guy aggravating me on the beach, and though it was chilly, the kids and Greg got into the water. I wouldn’t go any further than the very edge, but later we moved to the outdoor pools, which were heated – and very comfortable – and we spent the rest of our day there. The beach was nearly deserted, seeing as how it was so cold, but it was funny because we were in our swimsuits and the Bahamian vendors were wearing fleece.

Cable Beach conch shell guy Laurel

I wouldn't go any further in than this He looked this way the entire time we were at the beach making sand angels The boys

I wish we had more photos of Laurel, but she was more interested in making the most of things – as she should be, after being cooped up on Little Vegas for nearly two days. No time for photos, so sorry, so sorry.

After drying up some we caught another jitney back to the ship and hopped aboard for the night. Laurel stayed up late for a Camp Carnival party while Greg walked around to avoid falling asleep before it was time to get her. As for Ethan and me, we fell out.

The next day, GUESS WHAT, we were back on the open sea and GUESS HOW I FELT! You got it. Rolling again, back through the storm, back toward Florida. It was so rocky, in fact, that a big stack of bowls in the dining room fell right over. By this time we’d all just about had it, and despite trying to make the best of it by dropping Ethan off at Camp Carnival, they paged us again and again. So finally we just gave up.

We tried to watch the holiday show but it was lacking in our opinion. The singer wasn’t that great – in fact, some of the karaoke singers we’d heard the night before were much better. They had a band but either the violinists were invisible or they were playing to a track. Laurel was bent out of shape because she didn’t get to perform a dance with the other Camp Carnival kids despite having rehearsed with them, and tempers were just generally short.

We arrived in Jacksonville bright and early on Monday morning, and booked it off the ship as soon as possible. That, of course, meant we were at the airport by 10 a.m. for a 5:00 flight, but we were hoping we could hop some flights on standby.

Heh.

“Delta doesn’t do standby.”

Yeah, that’s what they told me.

So we waited in Jacksonville for 6.5 hours, which just ROCKS with a 4-year-old, and then waited in Atlanta for another 1.25 hours (we were late out of there because an international flight had just come in at our gate, they were late, and had to be cleared by security). Arriving home in St. Louis at 8:45 p.m. we were relieved…until we had to wait nigh onto 15 minutes for the parking shuttle.

We finally walked into home-sweet-home at 10 p.m.

And despite being glad to be back home, we fully recognize that all these annoyances and aggravations are what make good stories in the future.

So was it a good vacation? Yes. Will we do it again? Not anytime soon!

Fun with Clippers.

Yes, we have returned from the Bahamas. I’ll cobble together a post about it shortly, but Christmas cookies are the priority around here today. Here’s a post to tide you over until I can put a Bahamian post together.

Someone in the following photos has had a few too many beers:

Haircut1

Can you guess which?

haircut2

I’ll give you a hint:

haircut3

It’s not the underage one.

haircut4

Bahamas-Bound.

We’re on our way to the Bahamas and won’t be back until the 22nd, but here’s a conversation I had Wednesday with Ethan, just to tide you over:

Me: Ethan, you know, it’s really warm where we’re going.

Ethan: You mean it’s warm even when it’s cold?

Me: Yes, it’s warm there even when it’s cold here. In fact, it’s so warm that it never ever snows, and the kids who live there don’t get to see the snow.

Ethan: So they can’t make snow angels?

Me: Nope. No snow angels.

Ethan: Well, I guess they make sand angels.

The Reason I May Look a Little Wild-Eyed Crazy When Next You See Me.

Yesterday while waiting in line to pick Laurel up from school, I logged every question Ethan asked me in the span of 10 minutes. Here they are, with my answers in italics:

“Do bucket trucks have sirens?”
No.

Why don’t they?”
Because they are not emergency vehicles.

Then what are they?”
Utility vehicles. Work vehicles.

“Where does Grandma Rost live?”
Marshfield.

“What about Grandma Smith?”
Fenton.

“What are they singing?”
I don’t know this song.

“What kind of song is it?”
A rock song.

“What is that?”
A weather station.

Why is it?”
What do you mean? Are you asking why it is a weather station?

Yes.”
Ethan, you have to stop with these existential questions. It’s a weather station because it just is – it measures wind speed and direction.

“What if there is no wind coming and that thing is spinning?”
It wouldn’t. If it did, it’d be broken.

“What if we grabbed onto the cups and pulled it around and around?”
Then it would take a reading, but the reading would be false because it wasn’t caused by the wind.

“WHY IS THIS NOT CLOSING?! ARRRRGH!”
Take a deep breath and try again; if it doesn’t work, give it to me and I’ll close it.

-pause-

“What if you go and the light was red but no cars were coming?”
Then you wouldn’t have an accident but if a cop were hiding behind a building and saw you do it you’d get pulled over and he’d give you a big, fat ticket. Trust me. So don’t do it.

Teaching the Future Subjunctive.

Laurel is a terrific speller. So good, in fact, that when she writes spelling sentences I look them over not for obvious spelling/grammatical errors, but to give her help with the subtleties of the English language (plus, have you read some of her sentences? They’re hilarious!). I am no grammarian, but I do what I can to teach her about sentence agreement and about avoiding prepositions at the end of the sentences. I teach her what Mark Twain said about using the “right word, not its second cousin.”

I tell her if the sentence can do without a ‘that,’ leave it out in the interest of brevity. Once I wrote a paper in college and forgot how many pages it was supposed to be so I just wrote until I was finished. The professor told me it was the shortest paper in the class, but also the best.

And then he chastised me for pursuing a major in agriculture rather than English.

I guess you can’t please all the people all the time.

Anyway, the times I need to say anything at all have become fewer and further between, which thrills me. I want my my children to understand that if you can a) write well and b) speak in public without fainting, people will listen to you, regardless of what you’re saying.

This morning I was reading Laurel’s sentences when I saw the following phrase:

“If I was…”

Skreeee! My brain came to a screeching halt.

I don’t know why that sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, but it does.

So I said to her, “Laurel, this sentence, “If I was…’”

“Oh,” Laurel said, “It should be ‘If I were.’”

“Right! Remember that by thinking, ‘If I were a rich man…’ Do you know that song?”

“Um…no.”

“I can’t believe you don’t know that song. What kind of cultural vacuum have we foisted upon you kids?”

So I found it on YouTube and demonstrated Reb Tevye’s dance:

If I Were a Rich Man1

And then Laurel got into the act while Vinnie ran for the hills:

If I Were a Rich Man2

And that, friends, is how the future subjunctive is taught in this household.

I’m thinking Laurel won’t forget.

Entering the Orthodontia Bubble.

Laurel’s got some jacked-up teeth.

Kid’s got fangs. Really!

So the dentist said we needed to go forth and get braces for her teeth. We were happy about this; Laurel is mourning her impending loss of fangs.

Today was the day she got her braces. And it won’t be long until her teeth are worthy of dental modeling (much to her chagrin).

Before:

Jacked-up teeth before

After:

Jacked-up teeth after

Next up: HEAD GEAR!