Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tall Ships Expedition

The adventure begins

Ellie is exhausted from talking for 2 hours straight.

PLEASE no one let them steer the ship!

Finally boarding the ferry to Catalina Island.

The ship, underway.

The boat was chilly. Rebi bundled up in Jenna's jacket. Thanks Jenna!

My Evan, pulling faces? Never happens. . .

The awesome crew.

The "Sexy Piggly Something or others" I will have to find out their group name and re-caption this photo.

Oh yeah, baby! Time to snorkel! They were able to pet sharks and dive to the ocean bottom for shells. They saw sea cucumbers, sea hair, sheep crabs, sea urchins. . .and lots and lots of fish.
And probably 90 other things I don't remember. . .

A huge pod of dolphins. Although difficult to see in this photo, the kids said there were hundreds of dolphins playing around by them.

Evan and Floppy. Or Yako. I can't tell them apart.

The ship motoring into the dock at Long Beach.

Back on dry land. But they were listing sideways. . .and they all rocked back and forth through dinner.

On the way home, they talked non-stop and most of it was about new knowledge. They learned to set and strike sails, all about lines and how they differ from ropes, loads of oceanography, the correct way to use snorkel gear, the beauty of neoprene, and even a little astronomy and history. THEY TOOK NOTES!

At one point, Rebi said it was once of the most amazing things she has done so far in her life. All of them want to take the 20 day trip over the summer. At $3500 per kid, that would take a miracle. I'll just place a little "donate via Paypal" button at the top of the blog, shall I? But if I can swing it, they are going. 3 weeks without them? A little slice of heaven. . .

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Community of Love

I started reading a blog called FatCyclist when Ellie and Evan started training for their 280 mile ride.

I was quickly enthralled by his writing style and his mix of personal life and cycling information. He is witty and real and engaging.

Last night, I checked in with Fatty. I was absolutely moved by this post, regarding his beautiful wife and her ongoing battle with cancer. If you read through some of the comments, you will see the beauty of the blog community.

Words fail me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Movie review

As per Kirsti's recommendation, I just rented Lars and the Real Girl. I expected a slap-stick type comedy with glimpses of real life mixed in but it was nowhere close to that. Although quirky and amusing, it was not so much a comedy. Instead, it's a tender look into mental illness. Ryan Gosling was great in it. Even better was the guy who plays brother to Lars, Gus. It's an incredible amount of acting to be supportive and bewildered and concerned and guilty all at once.

And my favorite line of the movie: After Lars has asked Gus how he knew he was grown up, Gus said to him,
"There's still a kid inside but you grow up when you decide to do right, okay? And not what's right for you, what's right for everybody, even when it hurts."

Amazingly well done. I even choked up a little at the end over the compassion Lars is shown throughout the movie.

Thanks Kirst! I never would have seen it without your plug for it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Never Lost Again!

With a title like that, I could write late night infomercials!

However, this is me singing praises for a real live product or program or whatever you want to call it. I call it joy. I will never be lost again. Unless of course my phone loses service, but that is a different post for another time.

I am currently enamored of Verizon Navigator. Why the love? Well, aside from the fact that it never once led us astray in Florida 30 days ago, it has twice now saved my sorry misdirected ahem fanny. The first time, Mapquest gave me the wrong directions (I swear!!) and I drove around for about 15 minutes getting more and more lost. Rebi and her phone of wonder weren't with me, so in a fit of desperation, I pulled out my phone and started searching the Get it Now programs. Who knew my crappy little toy-looking phone even had capabilities for turn by turn navigation?

Today, it came to the rescue again. True to our "Year of Experience" theme, I cheered wildly planned carefully in order to send Rebi, Evan and Ellie on a 3 day stay in the middle of the ocean. On a ship of course, where I can't hear them fighting waging war gabbing on their phones playing nicely together. I mean really, what could be better for experience than getting a taste of sailing a real ship 100 miles away from mom?

So, today we had to have them in Long Beach by 8:30 am. Sadly, that means that to be sure we were on time, we had to leave before 6 am. It is only 78 miles, but does indeed take up to 2 and 1/2 hours to get there in rush hour. I've never been anywhere in Long Beach except the airport and had planned on using google maps to find my way to our destination, but when the packet showed up, it specifically said not to use mapquest or google maps because every year they have led people to a different location with a similar address. Of course, the enclosed directions were from a freeway I've never heard of, being as I don't drive anywhere close to LA unless it's for the chance on 3 days of freedom.

I don't suppose anyone would believe me if I tried to claim I shed tears as I put the kids on the ship, would they? Right.

So, dutifully, I examined maps and figured out a simple way to get to the freeway where the directions start, examined the area around and near the ending destination, and went to bed for a whopping 4 hours of sleep. Because Rebi is a procrastinator and didn't finish packing until after midnight. She gets it from her dad.

Have I ever mentioned in any previous posts my inability to think before the crack of noon? Or really, any time at all. But I can only post that because 3 of my kids have no access to internet and will never see that I've admitted it openly. Today was typical.

I have driven the 91 freeway at least 20 times, and had no reason to be concerned that we wouldn't make it to the 710 and our final destination with time to spare. Which is a really long way of saying, SINCE WHEN DOES THE 91 SPLIT AND BECOME THE 55 IN THE SHORT SPACE OF TIME IT TOOK ME TO SKIP 3 OR 19 SONGS ON MY iTOUCH???

SO, realizing I am suddenly on my way to Newport, and not Long Beach, and knowing that there is an imminent threat of reaching the boat just in time to watch it sail off with my $600 and 3 empty berths, and knowing that Ellie had not stopped talking for over an hour starting BEFORE THE SUN CAME UP and that I would be listening to her sobbing the entire 2 plus hours back home AND with the threat of 3 tired, disappointed and cranky children on my hands, I totally agreed to pay the $9.99 or any amount of money to get us back to the 91 and to that stupid boat.

Except Verizon didn't recognize the 91 freeway as a destination. And, although that is the only fault I find with the joy I call navigator, I do hope they remedy that little glitch. At that point, I got out the map the field trip mom had provided and started to enter the address of our final destination, only to realize it wasn't on that sheet, but on paperwork I left at home. I entered a nearby street instead and was promptly kicked off of the 55 in order to connect with the 57 South which would take me to the 22 and I would not only miss the boat, but wander downtown Long Beach for hours. No, I didn't love the navigator directions, but I had faith it would get me close enough to find my way with my map. That is, until I got on the 57 North instead. I realized my mistake about the time the navigator started intoning, "recalculating route. recalculating route. recalculating route." I'm sure I fried the internal circuitry as it attempted to figure out how to make me execute a legal U-turn on the freeway. And did I mention it was bumper to bumper with rush hour traffic? I swear, the navigator had to bite it's tongue to keep from wondering aloud how stupid I must be to 1) follow the split to the 55 rather than staying firmly on the 91 and 2) not be able to enter a freeway headed the right direction. After all, it was telling me every turn at .1 mile intervals.

But, the fairytale has a happy ending. After less than a mile on the 57 North, navigator told me to prepare to exit onto the 91 in 1.2 miles. Woo Hoo! I screwed up and ended up right back where I wanted to be! And I even managed to get on the 91 heading west and not east. I know, miraculous. This kind of crazy NEVER happens to me. I know people who lead a charmed life, but I plan for the unexpected. Self-fulfilling prophesy? Never!

Sadly, the ship then docked 2 hours late, so we got up at 5 am and fought rush hour traffic just to sit and wait for 2 more hours. If I hadn't still been kissing my phone for getting us to our destination, I might have been frustrated.

I had to try my best not to dance a jig as they walked up the gangplank, but I forced a tear out because I just can't afford one more contribution to their therapy fund. Even if they are going to need it desperately.

My apologies if this is incoherent rambling. My lack of sleep has caught up with me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


. . .my depression to find out there is no longer a Ben and Jerry's in Temecula. Goodbye, 1253 calories per bite. I will miss you!

I do believe I will head off to the grocery store for a few items. Never mind if one or two of them happen to be of the cookie dough or phish food variety. . .

Public Service Announcement

P.S. It's free cone day at Ben and Jerry's today. I am sorry in advance to those of you who do not have a Ben and Jerry's store close to you.

Calories consumed on free cone day do not count. Happy eating!

She told me!

In this post, some months ago, I shared a more literate passage from a person I own a chunk of worthless land with. We hold onto this land purely for sentimental reasons. Unless of course it's because we all love to have pointless arguments over email. My sentimental reasons for continuing to own this land with my 42 or 52 or 62 cousins (right, I have no idea how many owners there are in the land. Nor do I know how many actual cousins I have. Which only makes this funnier, if you want my opinion. Which you seem to or you wouldn't still be reading this very long parenthetical statement.) are quickly being worn away by the amount of concentration and reading and rereading and rereading it takes to understand most of what is posted by this particular cousin.

After a particularly illiterate string of email in March, I replied with: Although honestly,I have a very hard time understanding most of what J_____ says in her emails, so I'm not sure what her real opposition to a _____________________ might be.

Well, I want you to know that a month later, I have been set straight. Just as I was logging off to go to bed, a new email came in from her that says (and I am sharing this with you because it actually makes sense. I just wanted to prove it happens now and then):

The value of reading and re-reading very slowly before posting is very desirable and is not to be underestimated in helping to clear up one's own lack of understanding of another.

There is a saying: The goal is not to get through a book as fast as you can, but to get the book through you (Meaning: to absorb or soak up, to really learn from it, to truly strive to understand the book)

Except, what about when you strive for that and there still are not enough verbs and nouns in correct use to get anything through anyone? So, I chuckled to myself a little because there's really no more effort I can put into understanding some of these emails, at least not without a translator, and if I ask for clarification, often the response is farther from the topic than when we started. And then, as I started to shut the browser window, I noticed several more email coming through from her. So far, she's sent through 23 separate email. And she honestly expects me to "absorb or soak up" every single one of them. Which nearly has me in tears both from the audacity of it all- as if anyone who owns the land has time for 23 convoluted emails- and the futility of it all. For both her and me.

She has finally overwhelmed me with sheer volume. Just like the Russians in WWII. I can no longer justify sending my brain cells into battle, to fight a war they are destined to lose. Not because she has outwitted me, but because just like the Russians, she has totally out manned me. I have no more heavy artillery. I have no more brilliant battle plans. She has won a battle I never realized I was fighting, because I have the nerve to wonder why the land can't just sit there doing nothing as it has done for the last 20 million years. Then again, we all know how I am about pipe dreams.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hi Monday

One of my delightful and lovely children is currently in meltdown over a back pack.

She or He is packing for a 3-day trip on the ocean on a big sailing ship, but rather than being excited and cheerful, she or he is throwing a massive fit. Over a backpack. Because it's the wrong color.

I even invited she or he to purchase themselves a new backpack with their own money but for haven's sake to stop the freaking crying over a backpack. But, of course, I am not being sympathetic to the color dilemma. Because I am old and cannot possibly understand the importance of color in one's packing decisions.

I must look into extending that trip from 3 days to 7.


I have so many questions about this weird and twisted story.

Daughter leaves home to join a cult, but the "cult" allows her to bring babies back and leave them on her parents' doorstep? But only 3.

Locked away in the basement of an apartment building. . .and no one noticed in over 24 years? There's nobody that insists on a key to a locked door?

Do all of the people living in the cellar have rickets and other diseases from malnutrition?

His wife claims she never knew there was anything at all going on? If he raped his first daughter, isn't it likely that he raped the 19-year old that was treated in the hospital? Is this dude father and great grandfather to some unlucky child out there?

And how does his wife know nothing? Give me a break! This is twisted. Twisted leaves a residue that you have to be an ostrich not to notice- or admit.

It makes me sick to my stomach to even think about the padded room.

Sorry for the depressing post about grossness. I hope to soon be back to our regularly scheduled funny.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Happy Birthday Ellie!

Ellie's birthday was the 21st, but I was so busy blogging about the dentist that I didn't blog about her. Poor middle kid.

We had her party yesterday, complete with 20 of her very closest friends. Here are the pics in no particular order:

And she's pretty sure that 11 is officially old enough to babysit for other people. With two older siblings as competition, she wanted to be sure I plugged that for her. Babysitting. Ellie. If you don't mind that she's 11.

Happy Birthday!