Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 4: California

On Friday morning, I took the tots for another drive through my hometown, this time passing one of my childhood homes, my daycare center, two best girlfriends' homes, my junior high-school, and various haunts, before sitting outside my elementary school playground and watching children play. Finally we stopped at the county library, which has been largely expanded since I lived here. We went for children's story time, but Margaret and Joseph had so much fun in the imaginative play area, they preferred to stay there.

Riddle me this: How does a toddler settled safely in his car seat on a drive in which there are no accidents end up at his destination wailing with a red goose egg popping out on his head? By having a three-year-old sister in the seat adjacent and armed with a water bottle!

After lunch back at home base, I popped the children back in the car so they would nap before we met my dad and sister at the Sacramento Zoo. During their snooze, I enjoyed listening to talk radio (boy, I do enjoy it, but I won't listen to it in hearing of older-but-too-young children) and drove past a couple of my old apartments, favorite restaurants and hang-out spots, and my junior college. So many memories . . . most of which made me want to go around grabbing young ladies in their teens and 20s, shaking them by the shoulders, and telling them to listen--LISTEN!--to their parents!

The lion

Grandpa shows off an anteater


We paid the three dollars for Margaret to have a Giraffe Encounter.


Carousel--before Joseph started crying in fear

I tried using the backpack-leash on Joseph for the first time:
Margaret thought it was the best thing ever!

Riding the train was a highlight for Joseph.

Cousins: Joseph, Melissa, Maddie, Margaret

Margaret said this was her pet crocodile Carol
and she instructed me to feed it leaves.

Pink flamingos

The old cement snake slide:
still around after at least 40 years

Day 4: Texas

The first day of Chris' travel took the kids from Charlotte to Atlanta. The second day got them to Biloxi, Mississippi, and today got them all the way to Houston, Texas.

One of these beds was slept in by a retired Air Force general (turned grandfather) and the other by a seven-year-old boy being taught by his Mama how to make his bed every day without being asked. (Mama is so proud of her boy.)

The training is working!

Monkeys wherever they go
The car ride was more enjoyable today, if very loud and full of raucous laughter, which can get old for tired dads and grandpas who aren't kids anymore.

It has been reported that Daddy made a rookie mistake by handing back to the children a bag of peanuts in the shell and then becoming so engrossed in conversation that he failed to notice when the children de-shelled all the peanuts, put them into a cup, ground them into powder, and had a peanut shell throwing fight, coating the entire back of the car.

Being sweet

Stretching their legs at a playground

Entering Texas

An interesting, beautiful flower

Chris tells me he is not paying the children in Reward Bucks or anything else for telling me that they love me and miss me each time I call. Melt my heart . . .

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 3: California

Fresh and clean from giving morning baths to the children and doing our laundry, we had some unstructured time, so I took the children on a driving tour of my hometown. We drove through some of my favorite neighborhoods: it is so refreshing to be outside of the Land of Homeowners' Associations. Here in the west, HOAs are not ubiquitous as they are where I have lived for last ten years: here the houses vary in design, in upkeep, in everything. It provides for a lot of visual interest and neighborly drama!

We drove past my two elementary schools, my high-school, and my university. Remaining on my list are driving past my junior high-school and my childhood homes. (And maybe tomorrow when I'm in the city adjacent, I might drive past my old apartments, former job sites, and law school.)

Next on the agenda was taking the children to a playground, as promised. My hometown has a lot of parks, most connected by the various greenbelts that run through this bicycle-friendly town. Truly, there are so many parks for the population of 65,000: I count 46 of them as described at Wiki-Davis! Click on the City website for a map showing that a person can hardly walk a few blocks without encountering another beautiful and innovative park. I remain unaccustomed to the lack of parks where I live now: because nearly every neighborhood is an HOA, nobody is allowed to use anybody else's park, nor is a lot of money invested into good playgrounds.

So, we are living it up with touring the playgrounds here!

A photo capturing about one-quarter the size
of the labyrinth that is Rainbow Park.
This morning we visited Rainbow Park, which is nestled amidst Community Park: a vast network of wide expanses of grass, soccer fields, Rainbow Park plus two other playgrounds, baseball fields, swimming pools, a skateboarding park, and picnic bench areas, as well as an art gallery.

Rainbow Park is an old-school park made of real wood with real splinters and sitting atop real sand which can cause real eyeball abrasions. The slides are made of real metal which can cause real burns.

I stopped by my favorite deli for lunch. I love Togo's sandwiches and have found no substitute since moving away from California.

Tiny Pink Kitty eats Togo's

After naptime--that is, after Margaret's naptime, as the one-year-old wouldn't fall asleep!--we met Grandpa at Playfields Park. On the bright side, we had the entire place to ourselves. Unfortunately, the reason was that the temperatures were soaring and my tots were red-faced and overheating as a result.

My sister and her children were able to join us and then we all escaped the heat at a longtime favorite Italian restaurant for dinner.

From what I hear, Chris and the kids made it safely to their second night on The Road Trip to Texas. I don't think the driving today was as fun for Chris-the-Daddy as he remembers road trips as Chris-the-little-kid.

I think Chris just might be bribing the children because every time I call him, they are in the background and immediately shout in unison: "Mama, I love you and I miss you!" It's just a possibility that they're earning a Reward Buck for each time they say that to me.

That's okay, I'll take it!

Mary's note to me from the hotel tonight

And completing my culinary tour of the day, Margaret and I enjoyed It's-Its for dessert. These are an ice cream sandwich available only west of the Mississippi and which are so good that I scoff at eating other so-called ice cream sandwiches--those that laughingly try to take on such a name.

These treats can be shipped on dry ice to the South, but the minimum size is something like a case and it costs a couple hundred dollars. Yes, I did research that matter. Hey, it's cheaper than flying me to California on an an airplane . . .

Day 2: California

As glad as I was to be tucked into bed after our travel day, I would have enjoyed actually staying asleep longer. Alas, my body alarm woke me up at 3:00 a.m. local time because I usually wake at six.

Tiny Pink Kitty goes grocery shopping at 8:00 a.m.

I wanted to try to set the children's body clocks to local time as soon as possible, so when they woke at six, I fed them and had them at the grocery store by eight.

Both tired children understandably threw tantrums in the store. There was a time I would have cared a lot more about my three-year-old flopping on the dirty floor of the grocery store for the world to see, or having to carry out my one-year-old screaming and writhing over my shoulder, but having gone through this behavior with four children now has some benefits: this is real life!

I wanted to keep the children awake so I took them promptly to a playground. They perked up, except when swinging too long and I'd see them to start to glaze over with readiness for nap.

Unable to push their sweet, time-confused bodies any longer, I had them home, fed lunch, and asleep for nap by 11:00 a.m.

And that's when flowers arrived from my dear husband who remembered that today was the anniversary of our engagement, as well as my Confirmation and First Holy Communion!

Davis has much unique--some
might say strange--artwork
All of us refreshed, I took us for a walk through my hometown for about an hour. This is a college town, which makes for such an interesting combination of hippies and liberal politics, a sub-culture of some folks who choose homelessness in this pleasant climate in order not to be kept down by the restraints of a job, in contrast with a high level of education among the populace, plus many, many rental properties but also an exceedingly high cost of living here. It's really fascinating to toodle around here people-watching, at least to me!

Then I met up with my sister, her two daughters, and our dad at the famous Davis Farmers' Market! This is a truly wonderful farmers' market, a weekly event for which much of the community turns out. What fun!

The three girl cousins, all with M-names

Grandpa meets Joseph and makes instant friends
by throwing wood chips back and forth!

Four cousins on a spinning thing: nobody threw up,
which is more than I can say for my husband back at home and his carsick girl.

Joseph and Margaret eating dinner al fresco with Grandpa

Yes, they both finished the entirety of their ice cream cones.

And Joseph even got to try soda pop--
but only because I wasn't looking!
That's what grandparents are for.

Margaret got a lady bug balloon,
but Joseph was terrified of the balloon lady with her clown makeup.
You win some, you lose some.