Tuesday, September 25, 2007

While their parents worked and played in Vegas ....

... Will and Xan went up in a tethered hot air balloon, a new feature at the Irvine Great Park that used to be the El Toro Marine Base (remember the base that was destroyed by aliens in the movie "Independence Day" with Will Smith" Yeah, well it's been destroyed by humans, thanks to the balanced federal budget ... I keep thinking how nice Rodney's commute would be if the Tustin air base and El Toro were still open, but I digress...). Apparently, the kids do not have a fear of heights, although I am not sure if Xan really knew what was going on. This was something Grandpa Mark really wanted to do with Will, so I hope they had fun!

A big welcome to Baby Drew!

Rodney's cousin Katie delivered Andrew Thomas Shields this morning in St. Louis - all 7 pounds, 14 ounces of him! Aunt Brenda (Katie's mom) and Aunt Sam (Katie's, well, Aunt, and longtime delivery room nurse) were in the delivery room with her. Uncle Jim (Katie's Dad) stayed a safe distance away at Katie's sister Abby's house until Drew made his appearance! Everyone is fine and healthy - just a bit tired. That young guy holding Drew is another Uncle Joe for our family - Abby's new husband. Katie's hubby, and new Daddy, Jim, has been in Arizona for a month now, training for the U.S. Border Patrol, and will fly home to meet his son over the Columbus Day holiday.

Apple Picking 2007

This year we had a new member of the Annual Apple Picking clan - Brandon! HE was in the Snuggli this year, following up Xan's performance last year. Xan was at the cute apple picking stage, struggling to reach and pull the "balls" off the tree. There was also the petting zoo, gourd farm, spooky welcome tree and more! Oh, and we picked some very tasty Granny Smith apples, but no raspberries this year - it was just too dry for a decent crop!

Memory Trends!

Rodney went to his first scrapping trade show. Luckily it was a small one because he would have been completely overwhelmed! We wandered around the booths, entering raffles, doing make and takes and chatting with vendors. We got our pictures taken with Cricut and CuttleKid in the ProvoCraft booth. I think I did it more because Rodney was totally against it, than anything. But it was fun, nonetheless! One of the make and takes we did was a Valentine mini paint can - guess which one is mine!

Vegas, Baby!

Rodney and I rolled the dice and took a gamble on my new biz, Kits2Remember, and rented a booth space at a home show in Vegas. My friend Nan was organizing the scrap side of the show and got me a nice deal on the space. In a last-minute decision, we decided to go, which meant Rodney's parents coming to babysit the kids, getting some inventory, getting a credit card machine, a Uhaul trailer ... the list went on. But, we made it, made enough money to cover the expenses for the trip and had a pretty darn good time while we were there! Rodney was apprehensive about joining the woman-dominated scrap world, but he was a good sport and learned how to use the Bind-it-All, Crop-a-dile and more. As a matter of fact, the one hour I left him alone in the booth all weekend, he kicked butt, racking up the biggest chunk of our sales on his own. He said the secret to his success was describing everything as "and stuff." As in, "This can punch through CDs and stuff." Whatever works! We also hooked up wit the Scrappin' Pals ... Jennifer and her hubby Jay (Rodney and Jay were often seen mingling together, trying to keep the testosterone pool stronger with the power of two!) and Jean, he brought her bud, Cheryl, a non-scrapper, along for the Vegas fun! Rodney did manage to play some Texas Hold 'Em, coming in 5th out of 45 in one tournament. Of course it was 4th place that won money ... We did manage to go to the strip for some dinner and slots a couple of nights, so it wasn't ALL work and no play for Jessica.

Well, that was Sept. 14-16 ... Monday I hung out in the hotel room, working on the ol' laptop, while Rodney played (terribly at) cards. And then Tuesday, before we headed home, the REAL scrappy fun began ...

The BIG kindergartener

I forgot to post this photo in the original First Day of School posting, so here it is - the cool breeze, GQ-model-posing Kindergarten student!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Will's First Day of Kindergarten

Sept. 6 was Will's first day of Kindergarten! We got a picture at home with Xan (Xan was not cooperating), a picture with one of the after-school-care coordinators, John, a photo with the principal, Lisa Graham and one with his new teacher, Mrs. Peasland, who greeted everyone at the door as they came in. Will is enjoying his new school, but it took about three days for him to settle in and eat lunch there. Apparently, all the kids cheered for him when he did today. Jeez!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Help! I'm stuck behind bars!

Let's just say that I don't think Xan will be playing in or around laundry baskets any time soon!

Slow ride ... take it easy ...

While Papyrus is not quite as big as a Galapagos, he (or she?) did have enough strength to support Xan, although he (she?) did stop eating and look around a bit to see what was going on. Xan was too sure he wanted to sit on the turtle, but was a good sport long enough for Dad to get a picture.

San Diego's Gas Lamp District ...

.. may not be the best place to stay with kids. Well, that's not rue. The kids and Rodney slept fine. I was the one who couldn't sleep with the police sirens and bullhorn at 3 a.m. But, nonetheless, we stayed at the Ramada Inn and Suites in the Gaslamp District, which is the home of the fastest twin elevators that people come from all over to see. At least that was the case when they were constructed in 1917. At dinner time, we took a quick walk around the block to make sure we wanted to eat at the Brians' Restaurant ajoined to our hotel. During our walk we saw a classic car indoor showfloor and stopped. I fell in love with a fabulous 1976 British racing green Jaguar, which was in mint condition. It had a sun roof, leather seats and was clearly a classic beauty. Too bad I didn't have %12,500 to spare. Will was unusally interested in the cars - even comparing one 1965 Mustang to "his" (Grandma Nancy's) 1967 Mustang.

Dinner tasted great and we listen to a live singer who was pretty good. Will and Xan both had the spirit to dance and clap, but both boys were just exhausted from their big day, and did not protest when it was time to tip the musician and go up to bed.

The next morning, Will and I wrote to the family in Illinois to tell them about our day at Sea World. We droveovee to Coronado Island and had breakfast at a diner. We got home from our mini-vacation around 1 p.m. and still has 2 1/2 more days of the holiday weekend to enjoy!

Sea World!

Will has been asking to go to Sea World for months now, so Rodney and I decided to surprise him with a trip to the park. It is owned by Anheuser-Busch (forgive the spelling!) and they give free admission to every service member and their dependants. So we all got in free! But I spent part of the money we saved on Lunch with Shamu, a lovely buffet lunch where the trainers bring the largest male killer whale, Ulysses, and have him perform a series of tricks while we eat. Will was much too excited to eat much, and took more than 50 Shamu pictures with his new Fisher-Price digital camera (this photos are coming soon!) Xan wasn't too sure what to think if the dolphins, but he warmed up to them as he gazed through the glass. Once he got the hang of the window concept, he had no problem hunkering down with Will to watch Ulysses scratch his back on a rock. Both boys were a bit wary of the Bat Rays, but Mom has a great time petting their slippery skins. Xan accidentally pitched his sippy cup in with the rays, but this must happen often, because the staff did not blink an eye, just got the pool strainer and gave it back. The rays didn't really seem to mind, either. Both boys took some time to warm up to touching Sea Stars at the tide pools, but once the inital testing period was over, both Will and Xan were expert Sea Star handlers. Tammy, a Sea World staffer, even took a couple minutes to answer Will's questions and gave him a Shamu sticker. Sea World wasn't very crowded at all. The worst part was waiting in line for the Shark Encounter, but Rodney got a great shot of a Bull Shark, so it was worth it. That was also his favorite animal to see. Will enjoyed the penguins - he asked to go through that attraction twice! So we did. My favorites were the manatees (we got Brandon a manatee bib) and the white Beluga Whale. He kept bobbing up and down in the water and he just looked like a solid piece of ice. Very interesting!