Monday, May 29, 2006

Deja Vu...

Rewind time to about two and a half years ago, and make these boys naked, and this is a scene from my uterus...
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I took the boys to Busch Gardens on Saturday afternoon to play at the Land of Dragons...because anyone that's been there knows it is the most awesome playground ever;> They had a good time, mostly playing on the slide. Up and down, over and over and over and over again...they did this for most of the time we were there, I'd say it was probably an hour of just sliding.

J's turn
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M's turn
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I was really proud of them because I refused to drag the stroller through the parking lot and on the tram and then try to find a secure place to store it while we played, which means they walked the entire way, and the Land of Dragons is not by any means close to the front of the park. I could have paid $15 to rent a double stroller, but seeing as we were only there for a few hours and we went because it was supposed to be a cheap activity (I have a pass and they are free), I opted not to spend that money. So, I was highly impressed by their ability to stay with me and not wander, even holding my hands most of the time I asked them to;>

So, before we left, we hit up an ice-cream shop for a waffle cone with a vanilla/chocolate soft-serve swirl.

M decided to put a dab on his nose to be cute...I'd say it worked;>
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J just took huge spoonfuls at a time to enjoy at his leisure;>
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We'll see how this goes...

GA Girl thought that more people would be commenting here if the word verification was off. So since she's had hers off for a while and hasn't had any trouble with spammers, I'll give it a shot. I'm not trying to be a comment whore, but I don't want anyone who would like to comment to feel like it's too much trouble to do so...comment away;>

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I jinxed it...

As it turns out, my daycare will NOT be open tomorrow, thus foiling my cleaning plans. I still plan to get as much done as possible, especially the carpet cleaning with the help of my wonderfuly momma. I couldn't help think that it's a really good thing I have the day off because there was just a sign on the door at daycare on Friday afternoon to announce the holiday plans, so if I'd had to be at work, I would have been screwed...trying to find care for two toddlers at the start of a three-day holiday weekend for the last day of said holiday weekend is undoubtedly a difficult task;>

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I am alive...

Been a bad blogger for those that actually read my posts...sorry.

M and J are starting to pull some more terrible-twoish stunts, so I spend a lot of my free time watching them like a hawk and cleaning up the messes created after I've turned my back;> They have discovered that mommy gets up pretty early, so they figure they don't need to sleep until 730-745. They get up at 630-645 instead so they can destroy my bedroom or pull their dishes out of the cabinets or find pens in the kitchen drawer to write on anything but paper...while I take a shower. Since it is morning, I do not get up any earlier than I absolutely must in order to appear to be on time for work, so I obviously do not have time to clean up any of this before we leave, which means it doesn't get taken care of until after they go to bed most nights. I am so happy that I don't have to work on Monday and daycare is still open because I will finally get to clean. I will steam-clean all the rooms and clean the bathtubs and fold all the loads of clothes (and put them away;>) and finally pick up the toys they have strewn across every inch of their bedroom instead of taking naps on the weekend...I've never looked forward to a day full of cleaning so much in my life;>

But, despite all of that, as you can see, they are still my sweet little angels...
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So, last weekend was the circus. This circus had such minimal advertising, other than some free kids' tickets at my daycare and Walmart that I saw, that there were no protesters. There were plenty of PETA protesters at the Ringling Bros. circus a couple months ago. It was decent enough, but like I told NS, I just don't think circuses are done like they used to be. It was mostly fun, though. There were tigers and three rings of entertainment, although not used simultaneously. The ringmaster clown dragged my stepdad into the center ring to make a fool of himself, which was quite amusing, although J was more than a little unhappy about the clown taking his granddaddy away, but stepdad got a red clown nose out of the embarassment, which J loved and wore for the remainder of the circus. M got sick during intermission and puked all over me...not a bit on himself, all on me, but he took some baby wipes and napkins to try to help clean me up (just about made me cry...such sweetness). Luckily, my mom had brought a sweatshirt jacket with her, so I didn't have to sit in totally smelly clothes for the next 45 minutes...she couldn't help me with the pants, though:x The "wheel of death" seemed like it would at any moment literally become one since the two guys were losing balance and not keeping pace with each other frequently. The elephants were awesome, probably my favorite part, actually, even though I made such a fuss about having to have other animals, like tigers, too;> It was rather funny when they did a squatting pose on their little stands, and one must have been desperately waiting for a break to poop because that little maneuver let it all out. Definitely a good thing that their act was the last one since that was the most pungent poop I have ever had the misfortune of exposing my senses to. One woman even ran out holding her nose;> But, as I said, circuses don't seem to hold the same magic I remember. I have memories of dark, mysterious circuses with a menagerie of animals, like elephants, tigers, lions, monkeys (still pretty disappointed about the lack of monkeys...easy to train and incredibly entertaining), and even bears sometimes, with people oohing and aahing throughout the show as well as laughing at the silly clowns. I wondered if this might just be a result of age, but I don't really think so because while there may have been some gasps as the "wheel of death" guys seemed to barely finish their routine without injury, I don't remember hearing much amazement about anything at this circus, or the last one for that matter, from anyone, children included; most of what I heard was laughter, and that is fine, but it isn't what I have memories of and isn't why I've wanted to go back to a circus for so many years. I don't foresee the circus being a regular thing for me and my boys considering the cost and how easily they could be just as entertained otherwise.

I have applied for admission to Capella University to get a BS in Network Technology. While the tuition is unbelievably expensive, this was the only school I found that had the specific program I was looking for available fully online, and the starting salary for positions in that field is more than the full cost of tuition, so at least I should be able to get a return on my investment;> It isn't a picky school, so I have no reason to fear I will not be accepted; it's just a matter of getting through the process before I am officially enrolled and able to start taking classes. I will start with just one course to see how much time it takes me each night, and then, hopefully, I will find I can finish two at a time thereafter.

Well, that is the latest as far as I can remember...besides the fact that I finished reading The Da Vinci Code and am very much so looking forward to NS's return from sea so we can see the movie;>

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again...

Remember that disappointing circus trip a couple months ago? Well, I'm going to give it another shot, but this time, it'll be the Clyde Beatty circus, which is advertised on the tickets to be the world's largest 3-ring circus...and the ticket says they have lions and tigers in addition to elephants;>

And speaking of circuses...Cirque du Soleil is coming here in November!! I've already bought two tickets because the best available seats even this far in advance are not on the floor or even the level above the floor. I figured waiting might not be the best idea if I'm hoping not to sit in the balcony.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend...

I treated myself to a special Mother's Day weekend. There was a PANorama Carribbean Music Fest at the beach, and since I couldn't decide which day I wanted to go to the most, I decided I would make an entire weekend getaway out of it. The boys and I (no NS because he's out at sea until mid-June) stayed at a hotel four blocks over and one street back from the oceanfront stage where the music fest was taking place. We got there Friday night, went straight to sleep, and then got up early (earlier than I would have wished) to enjoy a gorgeous day on Saturday. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. The sky was blue, and the temperature was warm but not hot.

The hotel had a superb (superb being more because of the price--free;>) breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, grits, bacon, pancakes, and make-your-own belgian waffles as well as some danishes. After Saturday breakfast, we walked to the beach...well, I walked and pushed the tots in the stroller. We played at the beach for about an hour, then sat in the grass listening to the middle school steel drum bands for about half an hour, and then headed to lunch. After lunch, it was back to the room for a nap. While it took nearly two hours for them to actually fall asleep, they each napped for over three hours, and I slept a little, too;> We headed back to the music fest to watch some of the college/high school/community bands playing and then decided it was time for dinner. I had picked out a place really close that had "real" food (meaning not deep-fried everything and not just pizza and pasta...you know, a green vegetable or two visible on the menu), but when the time came, the place did not seem to exist. So, I walked back to the hotel and we got in the car, figuring we could just drive down the strip and find a place to eat. Well, we did find a place or two, but there was no public parking available. Nearly every parking lot/garage/space in the area was reserved for guests of a specified hotel only. All the metered parking was taken; the one public parking garage near the restaurants was full; and none of the restaurants had sufficient parking to accept more than a handful of cars. So, after an hour of driving back and forth, my standards lowered significantly on what was "real" food, and we ended up at a pizza/pasta place...no green veggies for the boys afterall, although I had a lovely iceburg lettuce salad drenched in ranch dressing;> This place had fantastic bread, though, and I'm pretty sure the spaghetti the boys had was quite good. After a quick bath for the boys, it was off to sleep again.

Sunday was a decent enough day to start...decent weather, chance of rain wasn't too high and was only supposed to be isolated anyhow. The boys were pretty tired, I think, because they just weren't as perky and energetic as they had been the day before. After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we walked along the boardwalk until the bands started playing again. That was around noon, so I figured it was time for lunch. I had decided to get the boys a hot dog, some mac&cheese, and green beans from a couple of the vendors set up in the area. The hot dog and green beans were easy (and they devoured them), but the mac&cheese wasn't quite ready...supposedly another 20 minutes. I walked over to the vendor selling the jerk pork to order that for myself...nope, that'll be another hour. Well, it wasn't too much of an inconvenience since I'd plan to stay until 1:30 or 2 o'clock anyway. I go back after 25 minutes to see about getting the mac&cheese...still not ready and I don't even get an estimate this time. Around 1:15, I decided to get my own lunch and then leave, so that we could go to my grandmother's house. Having given up on the mac&cheese since the boys didn't seem hungry anymore, I still went to the mac&cheese vendor because I wanted sweet tea...no sweet tea, but I finally got the mac&cheese;> The jerk pork was ready, too, and just as they were getting it ready for me, the downpour of rain begins. We ended up huddled under the tent of the airbrush tattoo vendor for about half an hour while the storm passed. They were so enamoured with my boys that they gave them some free tats, an M on M's hand, a J on J's hand, and then a pirate's skull and crossbones on their lower forearms above the initials. M and J actually thought that was very cool.

We finally left when the rain let up to just barely a sprinkle and drove back toward home. I stopped at the apartment to change clothes since I was still wet even after sitting in traffic for over an hour. We then went to my grandmother's house, where my whole family had gathered for Mother's Day and where I left my camera on the table.

It was an oddly relaxing and enjoyable weekend despite being so tiring...oh yeah, I discovered that the boys are deathly terrified of elevators, so after the second attempt at that, we ended up taking the stairs back and forth to our fourth floor room the entire weekend;>

M and J seem to enjoy the soothing rhythms of the steel drums as much as I do. Here are a couple videos (again, poor quality and no sound...not quite sure why I can't get the sound working) of them having fun; M is the feature act of the first one (J's there standing in the stroller, too) and J in the second.


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Thursday, May 11, 2006

How to teach toddlers the alphabet...

Apparently it was not learned from relentless practice while at daycare since every new teacher my boys get are utterly amazed at my children's knowledge of the alphabet and insist on asking me how I did it.

Other than simply spelling out words while writing in front of them (because every time they would color, some adult would be conned into doing all the coloring, which inevitably resulted in said adult writing out whatever words come to mind), they received a Leap Frog Fridge Phonics set for Christmas last year. Now, this thing looked awesome when I saw it at Walmart, which is precisely why I purchased it. It has all the letters of the alphabet and numbers 1-10. You put the magnetic "house" on your fridge (or stove or dishwasher...wherever the child puts it, really) and then use the magnetic letters and numbers to have fun;> It tells you what the letter is and how it sounds and then sings a little ditty about that stuff. There is a button to sing the alphabet, too, which is a great rendition of the classic, most notable change is that there is no "and" between "y" and "z"...just x, y, z. For the numbers it just says the number; there's no song until you push that button that sings the alphabet for the letters. My boys loved the counting song, though, and regularly did some grooving in the kitchen to that...while the song cannot be heard, you can play the poor-quality-taken-with-my-camera-phone video clip of M doing his thing.


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So, if you're looking for an effortless and effective way to drill the alphabet into your young one's mind, I recommend this as a well-spent $20;>

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I’m not sure what to do with this...

Part of my brain tells me to just take it as random conversation that has no subliminal message because that is what I’ve been told about men. They say only what they mean and are not subtle, but...

The woman in my head says that there are possible hidden meanings to be heard and figured out.

Sunday afternoon, NS was talking about his frustration with the boat and how he got the paperwork to route for his transfer, deciding that he cannot re-enlist and go on deployment with this boat and come away with his sanity intact. Following this information, he starts talking about his not understanding why so many guys he’s known have just settled for women when they could have waited and found someone better (at this point I’m thinking this cannot be a good thing for me to be hearing). He gave some examples, none of which seem to really apply to us right now, and mostly he was having trouble understanding why anyone would all of a sudden decide to get engaged or marry someone that they have done nothing but bitch and complain about simply because they are transferring somewhere…again, I don’t think this really applies to us since I don’t think I’ve given him too much to bitch and complain about;> The conversation then turns to his like for the place he’s transferring to and some of the great things there, like a nightlife where so many people go out and actually dress up and so many restaurants that you could eat out often and not get to them all in a year’s time and how you can get a fresh, caught-that-day seafood dinner for two people for about $20.

That was pretty much it, so you can see how I might just say it was random conversation that means nothing more than what he said, but considering he is transferring, the question of where we stand will eventually have to be raised. I’ve never actually had to be the kind of girl that asks about “the future”, but I’m gonna need to know at some point so I can either cut ties or make plans. I couldn’t help but wonder if the hidden meaning is that he’ll transfer and that we’ll be over because he isn’t sure I’m the right girl...or if it was a way of letting me know that if he decides he wants me to come with him that it wouldn’t have been a casual decision and he wouldn’t be settling for the wrong person and it's a great place to live.

Why not just bite the bullet and ask? Because I don’t know what I want to happen yet. I’m afraid of making another mistake, so much so that I can actually tell that I’m holding back emotions sometimes because I’m scared to feel them. I question every feeling I have wondering why I feel that way, is it right for me to feel that way, and if it’s real. I also question whether or not he could actually be happy with me. That is probably the part that makes me saddest...the fact that I have lost confidence in the idea that I could make someone else happy enough to want to be with me and stay with me. I guess the reason I’m doubting these things so much now is because I never doubted those things with IFKAMH, even though what happened with IFKAMH probably had little to do with me and more to do with him, even though he now admits to being an idiot and has tried to convince me to let him have yet another chance (yes, he’s been told no, never, get over it, give up...so no one needs to worry;>). It seems that as long as I don’t know where things are going, then I don’t really have to decide how I feel, I just continue to enjoy our time together, being happy. But since it isn’t all about me, the time will have to come for me to find out if this is going to be continuing or not.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Children's Festival at the park...

Yesterday, the boys, NS, and I went to the local park for the Children's Festival...basically just a bunch of activities for kids and some informational stuff for the parents. One of the things they had was face-painting;> This was M and J's first experience with having people paint on their faces, and they handled it really well. They sat and waited for the painting to finish and then couldn't care less about what had happened to their faces...translation, the works of art didn't last long without getting smudged and smeared;>

M became a monkey (as if he doesn't act enough like one jumping all over the place)
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J became a bumblebee (pretty much because he simply repeated "be" when I asked him what he wanted to "be")
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It was pretty fun, although I was kind of disappointed that the only playground facility was for older children, but the boys had a great time venturing through the mini obstacle course.

Funny what happens when you turn the flash off...

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self-portrait...blurred;>

Thursday, May 04, 2006

La fiesta...

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Last night I went with some girls from work with my boys to a pre-celebration, I suppose, since everything was in the spirit of Mexico. It was a free event (with the exception of wanting food or beverage) with a live band and dancers to entertain the surprisingly small crowd.

There were quite a few activities set up for children, which my boys enjoyed. The first one we did was to "pick a duck" (okay, that wasn't really in the spirit of Mexico, I guess;>), which is where they have a few tables set up with ducks lined up. The ducks have numbers marked on their bottoms, which coordinate with prizes. M and J picked their ducks. J got a very cool little fish pinata (which has been named Nemo because all fish are Nemo, of course), and M ended up with a mini canvas tote bag with red handles and FIESTA colorfully embroidered with sequins on it...sounds incredibly girlie to describe, isn't really much less girlie in real life, but M isn't difficult to please when it comes to that kind of stuff, and he actually is quite fond of tote bags of all sorts.

The next "game" we played was a hat toss. Basically, a few tables set up with hats (sombreros) on different levels, you toss your sombrero, and if it lands on one on a table, you get to choose a sombrero to keep.

The girls from work loved my boys. Why wouldn't they? My boys turn on the charm for any group of female strangers; I don't have to wonder if they'll be well-behaved when I know they're meeting new people that happen to be chicas;>

Here they are post-game festivities:
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M was playing a little hard-to-get. He kept sliding the brim of his hat down over his face, so that you'd think he wasn't looking at you, but once you'd take a peek under the hat, you'd see he had a little smirk waiting;>

The boys also had fun with the "donkey" ride, which they got to do twice. I think only one of the four riding creatures was actually a donkey...pretty sure the others were ponies, but I guess donkies have a greater association to Mexico than ponies;>