Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The high school football game from Nellie's perspective

We went to the football game last night because Gray's in the half time act. The half time act is the marching band. When we got there it was about to start. We found Aimee and Jack and sat by them. Me and Jack went to get some drinks. I got a sprite and Jack got a coke I think. Then mom said me and Jack could go under the bleachers and play. But we didn't really know what to do so we just walked around and and talked. Then we went back up to sit down. Then I got hungry so dad gave me change I went to go get nachos, but they were out of nachos, so I got a pint of ice cream, chocolate ice cream. I ate it all!! At 1st it was delicious, but at the end I felt like bleah. Then dad let me get some chips. To make a long story we won! HOORAY WE ALL YELLED !

                                                           THE END !        

Saturday, September 9, 2017

From Sad Poems by Penelope

Two Heartbeats
by Penelope

I feel like my heart beats
in two different places
when the other part of me's
somewhere else.
When my heart's broken,
so is hers.
When it's together,
so is her heart.
My heart beats in
two secret places.
We're two bodies put together
to make one heartbeat.

Puzzle Pieces
by Penelope

We fit together
like puzzle pieces.
Then they came and
tore us apart.
We were together.
Now our hearts are broken.
They can't be fixed
until we're together.
The pieces are scattered
and can't ever be together

Time Warp
by Penelope

We're stuck in this place,
and I can't leave this time.
It's always gonna be like this.
We're never gonna meet again.
There's never a happy ending.
It's always gonna be like this.


Penelope has been feeling nostalgic this evening and just wrote this poem about her first best friend from kindergarten, Blaze. I love it so much.

by Penelope Rayburn

Blaze like fire,
fire in your heart,
Blaze like lightning
that just struck you,
Blaze like the sun,
who keeps going,
but mostly like my
Blaze 'cause she's still
a part of me.

Friday Night Lights

 Grayson moved from Pflugerville to Liberty Hill to start high school this year, so instead of playing for the Panther band, he now plays for the...Panther Band. (As it turns out, Liberty Hill's mascot is also the Panthers.)

Tonight was their first home game, so Derrick, Penelope, Gideon, and I came out to see him march...well maybe to hear him march.  [Note:  I wrote this late Friday night.]

We had quite a time getting there. On the way out of town, we had to stop for basically everything--gas, cash, Taco Bell, Whataburger, multiple trains, and once because we thought the tire was flat (spoiler alert: it was not). Early on we also had to turn around because I had forgotten to bring along my pills for the evening. Later I realized I'd also forgotten to bring a fully charged camera battery, and at that point, Derrick was like, "Oh well, that is really too bad for you."

Fortunately we were wrong by half an hour about the start time of the game--it was 7:30, not 7:00--so by the time we actually got there, we were barley late at all.

Penelope was hysterically panicked, though, because she could hear the band playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as we climbed out of the car. I was like, "Penelope, are you starting in this game or what?"

I tried to explain that you can't be late for a high school football game. (I'm an expert on high school football games because when I was in high school, this one time I went to homecoming.) (I've actually been present at two of my high school games (for two different schools), but the first time I was only interviewing people under the bleachers, so I'm not sure that counts.)

Anyway, Penelope was hysterical that we were late, and Derrick was getting a bit exasperated with me.  Since we were in a rush, I kept forgetting stuff and losing things in my pockets and changing my mind about what to take, and also we parked with the away team about three hundred thousand miles from the Liberty Hill side bleachers where Aimee, Melissa, and Jack were kindly saving us seats. (It probably wasn't quite that far, but if you ever go there, carry Gideon, and I promise you'll have the same impression of the distance.)  (Once we got all the way up in the bleachers, and I sat Giddy in my lap, I noticed that his diaper was very puffy and realized I should have changed him before we left the car.  I normally do, but we had been in such a rush I had forgotten.)

As for Giddy, he had been thrilled with excitement all afternoon about the prospect of this football game. But only after we got there did we discover he thought he would be playing.  He became totally unglued when we made him leave his little red-and-white infant football in the car.

"This will be fun," I thought apprehensively as he kept trying to twist out of my arms and run away on the long trek to the bleachers.

By an unexpected stroke of good luck, though, Giddy turned out to love watching football. We got there near the end of the first quarter, and he watched the entire first half attentively trying his best to understand the game and to participate when necessary.

He got really into it, clapping and cheering at all the right moments. (And there was a lot to cheer about, honestly. The Panthers won 56-13, and the 13 was all near the beginning.) One time during a punt return, Gideon saw the ball hit the end zone and started cheering, "Yay! Hooray!" because he thought it was a touchdown. When no one else cheered, he seemed a bit perplexed and vaguely embarrassed. Once when Derrick was talking to Nellie and gesturing with his hand, Giddy started carefully mimicking his gestures because he thought it was a thing. Then later during the halftime show when the people behind us started loudly chanting a girl's name, Giddy joined right in.  He didn't quite understand what was happening, but he wanted to be a part of it all.

Penelope seemed to be having a high time, too, making videos on her phone and taking a couple of trips down to the concession stand with just Jack like a real, bonafide big kid.  

It was a nice night, pleasantly cool and breezy, and Liberty Hill has a very nice stadium and a talented team, so the game was a pleasure to watch.  (All my relatively recent years of NFL football made the game more of a pleasure to watch for me than previous high school games.)

By the halftime show, Giddy was getting a little antsy, but he agreed to watch it all and remarked on the glittery dresses of the away team's cheerleaders. (He also kept saying that he was a baby bear because they were the Lavernia Honeybears and had an inflatable bear tunnel to run through.)  Giddy was also very excited that Gray was playing his saxophone, though I don't know if he could pick him out of the crowd from where we were sitting.  (He said he could, but I'm actually sure he could not since he wasn't looking through a camera like I was trying without much success to be.)

I had promised both children to take them down to the concession stand after the halftime show ended. Penelope was desperate to get some nachos. Gideon just wanted to move around.

As it turned out, everyone was out of nachos (we looked everywhere to make really good and sure).  I grabbed myself a red Gatorade and honored Giddy's request for "a bag of the purple" (aka Wild Berry Skittles that I stuffed into my pocket and slowly parceled them out to him as he ran in circles in the gravel). Penelope had to settle for a pint of Bluebell chocolate ice cream. She went back up to the stands with it, but Giddy and I remained in the gravel near the field.  All he wanted to do was run in circles, and that was fine with me.  There was tons of music to run around to because one band or the other was always playing. 

Over and over Giddy would tell me that he could hear Gray playing his saxophone.  If that was the case, he had remarkable hearing because he could also hear Grayson when the other band was playing, but it proved impossible to explain that to him (mainly because he was always in motion).  He loved running back and forth, hanging on the fence and staring into the field, falling into the gravel and then eating Skittles.  (I had some pocket sanitizer, but that just seemed to melt Skittle colors onto his gravelly hands.  Finally, I gave up.)

I the middle of the fourth quarter, Penelope reappeared wanting money to buy chips.  I gave her some cash.  About two minutes later, Gideon suddenly noticed her standing over at the Band Concessions stand.  He abruptly stopped dancing in circles and darted toward her as fast as he could, crossing a wide sidewalk and running right in front of some guys in a cart.  When I yelled for him to stop, he didn't (of course).  As fast as I could, I ran after him, and my shorts (which I guess are too big and were also crammed with stuff) started to fall down.  Fortunately the cart stopped about the time I caught up with him.  He needs to be better at listening, and I guess I need to buy shorts that fit.

After Penelope returned to the bleachers, Gideon and I traveled a bit closer to the home team side of the gravel.  He found a cricket which delighted him beyond words.  (Well I guess not beyond words.  He got right down in the crickets face and said, "Hello, little friend!")

Then at one point, Giddy said, "Wow!  The moon!"

I replied by rote, "Do you see the moon?"  But then I actually saw the moon he was talking about!  It was orange-red and enormous!  I was blown away and tried to get a photo, but my camera is not great for moon shots.  (I'll bet it's capable of taking fantastic ones, but I would have to practice and manually set it up perfectly.)  Meanwhile I texted Derrick to ask if he could see the moon.

A moment later, I noticed a man leaning on the fence with his phone in front of his face looking up into the sky.  I was so excited that someone else seemed to be noticing the moon (because most people were oblivious to it) that when he stepped back, I asked him, "Were you taking a picture of the moon?"

He showed me some shots he'd gotten from a better angle and told me that his friend had a camera that could zoom in so far it could photograph craters on the moon.

"Yes, I have a camera like that, too," I replied, "but I've noticed that the only thing it's good for is megazoom, so I hardly ever use it."  Then Giddy darted away, so I said apologetically, "I've got to follow him," which is how I end many conversations.

He surprised me by asking, "How old are you?"

I was so stunned that I repeated, "How old am I?"  I was just really surprised because normally people don't ask women that.  I can't remember the last time I've been asked that, especially just directly like that.

"I'm thirty-eight," I said finally.

He replied, "My daughter is twenty-five!"

Then I didn't quite know what to say.  "Well...I'm much older than I should be," I said stupidly.  Nodding at Giddy, I added, "He's two!"

He said, "My daughter has a five-year-old!  She's tired."

"I get that," I replied.

Then our conversation was over.

The whole thing really confused me.  I think he had expected me to be the same age as his daughter, maybe?  A moment later it occurred to me that maybe he'd thought I was hitting on him or something.  (I hope not!)  Maybe he was trying to let me know how old he was?  Or maybe he wanted me to make friends with his daughter?  Usually people ask how old Giddy is, not how old I am.  I guess it was weird that I just started talking to him.  (I'm terrible at acting normal at social events.)  Maybe he thought I was flirting, but nope, I'm just a moon enthusiast!

Anyway, the game was ending then, so Giddy and I wandered over to the bleachers and decided to wait for Derrick and Nellie to come down to us.  Meanwhile Giddy discovered the glittery remains of the spirit section and began investigating all the sparkling debris on the sidewalk.

By this time, Giddy was desperately poopy, so we all headed out to the car to change him.  We were hoping we might get to talk to Gray after the game, but he still wasn't available yet after we changed Giddy, so hopefully we'll be able to talk to him after next week's game.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Penelope's 4 weeks of 3rd grade


My homeroom teacher teaches reading. Her name is Mrs. Espinosa.  My math teacher's name is Mrs. Prinzo.  My science and writing teacher's name is Mrs. Martinez.

First I have math, next I have science and writing and socal studies, then specials (we either have music, art, P.E, or computer.) Then we go back to writing, socal studies, and science.  Then we go to reading. Then we have lunch and recess.  Then we go back to reading.  Then school's OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Well I really don't know what else to say so bye guys.

                                                 THE END !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day Evening in Snatches

During dinner...

Giddy: I'm Stoopie! (laughs exactly like Snoopy, mimicking him perfectly)
Giddy: Nellie, that wasn't the Great Punkin, Nellie. Nellie, that wasn't the Great Punkin, Nellie. Nellie that never was the Great Punkin. Nellie, that was Stoopie, Nellie. That was not the Great Punkin.
Giddy: Mommy, I'm running my Charlie Brown feet!
Giddy: I need some more French fries, Mommy.
Me: I don't think we have any more French fries, Giddy.
Giddy: (throws down his Whataburger kids' meal fry bag, sadly) Darn!
Me: Maybe you will like this movie.
Giddy: It look like Fantasmic.
Me: Yes it does. Do you like the music? Pretty soon there will be cartoons.
Giddy: Ooh! Car Toons!
Me: Well not Car Toons, but maybe we will see faeries or flowers...
Giddy: Maybe we see Bambi.
Me: Mayyyybe...Let's watch and see what we see.
Giddy: Ooh! Tinkerbelle!
Penelope: That's not Tinkerbelle!
Me: Well she does look like Tinkerbelle.
Penelope: She's a fairy! She's dancing on a spider web! Ooh! What's in there?
Gideon: Maybe Bambi!
Penelope (exasperated): It is not Bambi!
Giddy (dancing around): Mommy, I'm a pink fairy! Mommy, I'm a mushroom! I'm the little mushroom!
Penelope: What is that?
Me: It's a fish!
Giddy: It's Dory!
Penelope (exasperated): It is not Dory!
--8:20 pm

Giddy: Wake up, Mickey!
Me: Uh oh! Stop brooms! Stop mops! That's too much water! (to Derrick) See that's exactly what A.I. is going to do to us!
Giddy (dancing through the room with me): A.I., Mommy!
Penelope: What?! This is real???
Me: Well if you ask Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking...
Giddy: Too much water, Mommy!
Penelope: He should just take off the hat and pretend he didn't do it!
Me: He would know who did it. He's the only other person there!
Derrick: Here comes the wizard!
Me: It's the sorcerer!
Giddy (dancing around like crazy): I'm Mickey, Mommy!
8:41 pm

Me: See that's me.
Penelope: Oh that is you, Mom! That hippo has a green toutou.
Me: Yes, and yellow ballet slippers.
Penelope: (with a sigh) Oh! I wish life could always be as simple as these hippos!
Me: See that is me! Gideon is trying to wake me up by blowing me up into the air with bubbles, but I'm just sound asleep. Oh this is my favorite part when the elephants blow away!
Penelope: Why?
Me: Oh because it's just so absurd that they just blow away like bubbles, and they look so confused, but that's just the way it has to be, like oh well...
9:47 pm

Labor Day Unicorn Hunt

(Note: I composed this late last night)

Today the four of us (Derrick, Nellie, Giddy, and me) celebrated Labor Day with a picnic and unicorn hunt in Walnut Creek Park. The trails there are so beautiful, evocative of fantasy adventures. That's probably what gave Penelope the idea to tell Gideon that we were tracking a unicorn the last time we went there. He's been very eager to go again.

Penelope loves picnics, so in the morning, the kids and I headed to HEB to pick up some special picnic foods along with my usual weekly groceries (stuff like diapers, shampoo, and this week a massive $12 box of 45 packets of Cheez-Its because Penelope loves those small pouches for her school snack and HEB was completely out of the $5 size I usually get).

Gideon was extremely excited to see the unicorn, and he was really disappointed when we ended up at HEB. I had to reassure him that I wasn't tricking him many times.

When we got home, Mom and Dad were just starting a game of Scrabble, and Penelope decided to join them while I prepared the picnic food. Gideon decided to join them, too, (uninvited) because thanks to Super Why and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, he is completely obsessed with the ABCs.
While they tried to play, Derrick cleaned out an ice chest, and I sliced black grapes and little gala apples, then made three kinds of peanut butter sandwiches. Well, I used Peter Pan crunchy peanut butter on all of them, but I made some with tangy peach mango preserves, some with disappointing blueberry/cherry, and some with Penelope's choice of squeezable grape jelly (which turned out to be surprisingly tasty). I cut all of the sandwiches into little triangles, so we could sample everything.

Then things got crazy. All the sandwiches were squishing out everywhere. I couldn't find the lid to one of the Tupperware containers. Penelope started complaining about crusts. I had forgotten paper plates. Gideon went berserk.

That last thing was the only true problem, and it was a big one. There was some kerfuffle over at the Scrabble game. I won't name names, but somebody was stealing all the letter tiles and not listening to Grandma.

Since Giddy was being thwarted, he became hysterical. "I'm crying," he said accusingly through tears. He always does that. (At least this time he was crying. At HEB, he kept naughtying around with the peanut butter until Penelope had to confiscate it. Getting lazy in his manipulation, he informed us with completely dry eyes, "I'm crying." "No you're not," I pointed out, so he went, "Huh huh," these very fake sobs with the most minimal effort imaginable.)

Anyway while I was trying to finish the picnic, Gideon went completely, off-the-rails berserk, which caused me to feel panicked and pressured and like everyone was yelling at me. He suddenly desperately needed me to hold him, but Derrick took him outside because he wanted me to be able to not go crazy. Mom thought we were leaving, so she sent Penelope to the porch, but Derrick was just trying to calm Gideon down, so he sent her back to the game, and Mom sent her back out, and Derrick sent her back in. This happened like forty-five times until I had gathered everything and was ready to leave, and then I was like, "Come on, Penelope! Why are you sitting around in here?" Poor Penelope! Once I got Derrick's side of the story from the car, and Penelope's explanation, everything made much more sense to me.

Anyway, I was not in a great mood as we left for this picnic because I could tell that Gideon was about to fall asleep. (Today was take two for attempting to walk in Walnut Creek Park because yesterday, Giddy fell asleep.) We left earlier today, but Giddy woke up pretty early this morning. He tapped gently on my eye lids and asked sweetly, "Mommy, wanna pee?" as if he were offering me something nice. I always go to the bathroom and brush my teeth and hair first thing in the morning, so he was trying to get the ball rolling. Gideon is like Derrick. He wakes up ready to jump out of bed. Penelope and I view waking up as more of a gradual process. Giddy is always rushing me. Once he took this little frosting tool he stole from a kit Derrick's mom gave me. It's shaped like a little funnel, so he was using it as a teeny tiny megaphone to yell in my face, "Mommy! Wake up!" Saturday morning he pounced (with his full weight) onto my belly while I was completely asleep. He said, "I'm a frog!" I said, "I don't care who you are! That hurt!" Today after trying to entice me to the bathroom, he added with a put upon groan, "I have been asleep for one hour!"

So anyway, Giddy fell asleep on the way to the park, which actually made it easier to enjoy our picnic (which is usually spent chasing him). This time we just let him sleep in the stroller while we enjoyed our sandwich triangles, fruit, and delicious chips. (Penelope has been begging me for cheese balls for over a month, so I finally let her get some. Meanwhile, Derrick and I had these yummy cheese crackers that turned out to be gluten free. To drink, Penelope had this cute little bear full of grape drink like I used to get at Knott's Berry Farm when I was little. Derrick and I had coconut water (just plain coconut water, which was relatively hard to find).

As we finished the picnic, Penelope started doing noisy activities and pretending she was not trying to wake up her brother. For some strange reason, Gideon woke up. While Derrick and I alternated in putting picnic stuff away, the kids played on a little playscape. Then we all took a walk to hunt for the unicorn.

Last year we tried to hike those trails with Gray looking for rare Pokemon, and it was just wrist-sprainingly impossible with the stroller. But now Giddy is big enough to walk by himself without the stroller (which is actually his preference). He has better stamina than Penelope, but less ability not to get run over by bicycles.

The trails there are so wonderful, winding and full of rocks and roots. Everything smells like cedar, and the landscape looks like illustrations from a D&D manual. (Derrick has been feverishly rereading all his D&D materials. He's so eager to start playing again, but Gray's busy schedule, Giddy's age, and the fact that last winter Derrick sold his computer that could run Fantasy Grounds are making that tricky at the moment.)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Honorable Mention Disney Memories: Memory #17: Yellow Night in Phoenix

Disneyland 2017 Memory #17
Yellow Night in Phoenix

Derrick's older brother (aka Uncle Jason) lives in Mesa, so we always stop and see him on our way through town unless his work schedule makes it impossible. This time we planned to meet him for dinner on the way out, so as we got closer to town, Jason suggested we meet at a Denny's near our hotel.

Now a word about our hotel. Derrick booked rooms at the cheapest rate he could find for a respectable establishment, so we stayed at this Hilton Garden Inn undergoing some refurbishments. More specifically, the lobby was under construction as we soon saw when we arrived and had to go in a side door.

The downstairs corridor was kind of hot and stale and steamy. But that wasn't too surprising since the side door had to be kept open as the only available route to the front desk and entrance to the hotel.

The elevator was blanketed inside with mysterious black curtains (mysterious because they were somehow blowing in a breeze that none of us could feel.) Both Derrick and Dad explained that this tarp prevented the construction crew from damaging the walls of the elevator, and I suppose that's one explanation. I prefer to believe that the elevator was haunted. It tried to eat me and Penelope. (Gideon, too, I guess, because I was holding him in my arms.)

Since the room cost only $70 a night, I found these colorful touches deliciously charming. Once upstairs, we discovered that although our rooms were neither connecting nor adjacent, both of them were mini-suites with a convertible sofa bed and kitchenette in the TV room, and a door that opened into a separate small bedroom containing a king bed. (I made the briefly unpleasant discovery that through random chance my parents had a recently renovated room while we did not. My initial feelings of vague jealousy were mollified somewhat by the subsequent discovery that the unpleasant smell in our sitting room was actually just the kids' sweaty feet.)

While we waited for Jason to arrive, the kids watched a strange Discovery Channel show about shark attacks. We were only waiting like five minutes before Jason showed up, but apparently that was time enough for all three children to get completely engrossed in the shark attack show.

Once we managed to tear them away from the sharks, the older two kids rode to the restaurant with Jason in his car while the rest of us followed in the van. As I put Gideon into his car seat, I discovered that he was poopy and decided to change him in the front seat when we got to Denny's. I told the others to go on ahead, that I'd meet them in there.

A couple of wipes into the diaper change, I suddenly got this really uneasy feeling. All at once, I became aware that I was alone with a toddler in an otherwise nearly deserted restaurant parking lot in a strange city.

Please don't let some serial killer sneak up on me right now! I thought in paranoia while prattingly cheerfully to Gideon. And just then I felt the presence of a strange man looming behind me.
I can't remember if I actually screamed or if I just gasped and jumped. My heart skipped a beat, though. I know that for sure. I thought I was about to end up like one of the supporting characters in The Silence of the Lambs.

Fortunately looming behind me was a very particular strange man who happened to be my dad. "I thought I would hang back since you're a woman alone in a parking lot in a strange place," he explained. "I would have felt really bad if I went into the restaurant and then someone murdered you."

"Yes, I had that same thought," I told him, "only I thought you were the person coming to murder me."

Once I finished changing Giddy, we joined the others inside. In the lobby were a bunch of money eating machines that proved a constant source of fascination to the children.

Then when we got to the table, Gideon was delighted to discover a giant cardboard cutout of a giant pancake man standing behind him. He was delighted with the menu, too, and immediately decided he wanted the pancakes with rainbow sprinkles, whipped cream, and sausage. (Who wouldn't want that?)

Derrick barely got to talk to Jason during dinner, so he came back to the room to chat with us for a while there.

After Jason left, Gray and I started flipping channels and happened upon Robot Chicken (probably inappropriate, but still hilarious. It soon turned into The Bitch Puddin' Christmas Special, and we were finally like, Okay, we've got to turn this off). We were all in high spirits and having a great time when suddenly a storm blew in. First there were massive clouds of dust, followed by thunder, lightning, and massive amounts of rain.

Then the power went out. That made it really hard to see and impossible to charge my phone. We all ran around, peeked out windows, used the flashlights on our phones, jabbered in needless mock panic, told stories, noticed strange waterfalls...

Gray, Nellie, and I were having a great time, and Derrick (though less hyper) also seemed to enjoy the storm. At one point Giddy got tired of these shenanigans and yelled at us to turn on the lights, like it was all some big practical joke we were playing on him.

I brought my tooth brush in from the bathroom (off the master bedroom) to brush my teeth in the moonlight at the kitchen sink. (Somewhat inconveniently, the faucet was positioned so that it watered the counter more effectively than the sink basin.) Practically as soon as I finished brushing, the lights came back on.

"Oh good!" I exclaimed in relief. "Now I can take a shower."

But then the lights went off again, of course. They were off even longer the second time, and by then the older kids and I were really wound up. They were glued to the windows where Penelope swore she could see a bizarre waterfall, and I started making videos. (I messed up one by yelling out "menstrual cramps" when Derrick and the kids were trying to match natural phenomena up with bodily functions.)  Giddy was running around in the dark with a cup of dry Fruit Loops, spilling them everywhere.

When the lights came back on again, I waited to make sure they were back for real. Then I immediately started running a bath for Gideon who was only too delighted to climb into the tub. (He was playing with some flimsy toy we'd just acquired, maybe something from his Happy Meal in Van Horn the night before.) When I grabbed a disposable hotel drinking glass to wash Giddy's hair, I immediately noticed something strange. Although the water running out of the faucet appeared clear, the water in the full cup looked yellow.

I started freaking out. Was I bathing him in sulphur? I filled up the cup lots of times doing experiments.

"It's not like that when I fill the cup from the sink," I reported fretfully. "No wait! It is!" Actually only the hot water was coming out yellow. The cold water was clear. (Or maybe it was the other way around.) Either way, Derrick did a bunch of research on his phone and soon discovered that after a storm, more minerals and sediment can get into the pipes but that the resulting color changes are completely harmless.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time filling up cups in the sink and seeing how much water it took to give the cup a yellowish hue. I also experimented with the temperature of the water and even how far I turned on the tap. Meanwhile Gideon was bathing contentedly in water that had eventually turned yellow. Finally I just gave up and washed his hair.

Not long after I took him out of the bath, the yellow color in my trials began to dissipate. I choose to believe it was gone by the time I took my own shower, though I stopped checking once it seemed to be trending toward normal. It was getting late, after all.

The next morning we all woke up extremely excited (and without radioactive super powers from the yellow water) because we would be driving to Disneyland that day. (Giddy probably didn't fully get that, but he's always excited, and was still having a love affair with Fruit Loops.)

Mom and Dad treated us all to the breakfast buffet downstairs which the kids raved over. (I'm not sure why. It seemed pretty typical to me. It was markedly better than the free breakfast in Van Horn, but that's because that one was substandard. Maybe I'm used to Hilton brand standards since Dad worked for them for so many years.) Gray especially really did love this breakfast. He talked about it for days.

I did appreciate that the hotel restaurant had the same kind of oblong hard rainbow candies Merry and I used to get when we temporarily lived in the Marriott at the Capitol back in 1988. Also, the bagels were not rock hard, and the cream cheese was cold, so you didn't get the feeling you were risking food poisoning for a cream cheese fix. There was also a cook-to-order omelet bar and plenty of breakfast meats and cold cereal, but all that was of no interest to me. Gideon enjoyed eating a cup of sausage while he played in the courtyard with Dad, and all of us liked the fresh fruit. I remember that the waitress was very friendly, though part of that has to be that my parents are so outgoing.

While Derrick checked out, I momentarily ducked out of the car to put a Pokémon in the gym that was across the street from the hotel near this eye-catching, twisted X sculpture. Then on the way out of town, we drove through the tunnel which is one of the highlights of driving to Disneyland for all of our crazy children. Gideon never developed malaria from the yellow water (yet), so I have to assume that bathing him in it was not the greatest mistake of my life.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Honorable Mention Disney Memories: Memory #16: "This is awesome!"

Disneyland 2017 Memory #16"This is awesome!"

I asked Derrick if he was going to write up his Top Ten Disney memories. He replied, "Ummm...probably not." He doesn't really have the time. Plus he's not as into making random, journal-like lists as I am. (Few people are. I mean, how many top ten memories have I blogged about now? Like fifty-seven? I guess if you want to be technical, this is number sixteen.)

When I asked Derrick about his best memories, he thought a minute and replied, "This is a bit surprising, but I would have to include that Denny's in Phoenix." It's not that surprising. All this time I've been debating--should I write one long entry about our adventures in Phoenix or break it into several small parts? Our time there was unusually eventful. I may break down and write it up tomorrow night.

But in the meantime, I'll go ahead and write up the best Disneyland memory Derrick told me--riding Thunder Mountain with Penelope.

The first time we hopped aboard Big Thunder opportunitistically. Tuesday evening we were all leaving the Hungry Bear, headed down Big Thunder Trail to Fantasyland to ride Dumbo.
Then suddenly I looked down at the stroller and noticed that Giddy had fallen asleep. (He hadn't napped all day, and he had just had a very full diaper changed and filled his belly with funnel cake, so the timing wasn't such a surprise.)

"We could go inside the Star Wars exhibition building," I suggested. "I think we can take strollers in there..."

"Or Grandpa and I could just get some ice cream and sit down with him until he wakes up," Mom suggested.

"Well in that case," I decided, "the rest of us could ride Thunder Mountain. The stand-by wait time is only 20 minutes right now." (You should never waste a Fastpass on Thunder Mountain.)

Quickly, we all agreed to this plan, and Merry, Derrick, the older kids, and I all hopped excitedly into line.

As always seems to be the case with this ride, the line moved really quickly and we never waited twenty minutes. In line, we reminisced about our trip in 2012 when three-year-old Penelope had tried to get off in the middle of the ride because she thought it was over. My sister's panicked reaction had been priceless.

This time, Merry rode in the front alone, with Derrick and Gray in the middle, and Penelope and me in our party's caboose.

I took a video, but I'm not sure if the microphone picked up Penelope screaming, "This is awesome!" at the top of her lungs over and over again.

Derrick exited the ride laughing and said to Merry, "You could totally hate that ride, but there's no way you wouldn't enjoy it if you hear Penelope screaming, 'This is awesome!'" 

Her enthusiasm was definitely infectious.

Friday Merry had to fly out in the morning, so she wasn't there for our final day in the park. In the mid-afternoon, we decided to ride Thunder Mountain again. Mom and Dad weren't interested, so we took Giddy with us and did rider swap. (That meant Gray and Nellie got to ride twice.)

Gideon conveniently chose that time for a nap, so Derrick waited with him by the Rivers of the Americas while the kids and I rode. We were displeased to find ourselves in the very front of the train. (The coaster is ten thousand times better in the back.)

When it was Derrick's turn, I was able to get pretty good pictures of them riding, even though I was standing with Giddy way back by the water.

After they were done, Penelope really wanted some ice cream bites, and Derrick needed a water. I opted to get a frozen strawberry lemon chill. It was pretty amazing (because we were so hot and dehydrated) but while we standing in line, the vendor needed to move a cart and asked us to make way. As I stepped back, I accidentally stepped on an Asian woman's foot because she did not move like everyone else. She let out a strange yowl, sounding kind of like a cartoon alley cat. It really scared me, and I felt horrible for stepping on her. I don't think she spoke English well. She looked so confused about why I had stepped on her. I felt terrible. I'm not sure why she didn't move because the cast members gestures had seemed pretty clear, but maybe in other countries, gestures are different. (Well I mean, I know they are. I just don't know for sure where this woman was from. She looked so bewildered. It reminded me of Homer Simpson's sad, confused expression in the Cape Feare episode when the government agent is pressing on his foot to get him to respond to the name Mr. Thompson.)

We decided to ride Pirates of the
Caribbean next. I deftly maneuvered through the line while holding a sleeping Giddy and eating my strawberry chill without traumatizing anyone else through my clumsiness.  This is the time Penelope remembers the line being so much longer and wrapping around the building.  The reason is obvious:  I was holding a sleeping toddler.  Gideon woke up just as we got inside the building.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Honorable Mention Disney Memories: Memory #15: Head First into Paradise

Disneyland 2017 Memory #15Head First into Paradise

I truly love the water slide at the Paradise Pier's rooftop pool. Even as an adult, I feel comfortable using it, and I'm not sure I would be willing to embarrass myself on the slides at the other two resort hotels. The pool area itself needs some love, though. All the bright, colorful decorative billboards I found so charming back in 2014 were totally bleached out this time, like they were eerie murals carved in whale bone. It wasn't a good look. All summer, I'd been desperate to get a new underwater camera and make it last until vacation (since last time we went our faithful original pool camera broke the instant I submerged it), and though I managed to carry out that goal, I felt a bit let down by what was there to be photographed.

The slide was still awesome, though.

We almost skipped our swim day this trip because we had planned to leave California Adventure for a swim break on Wednesday afternoon, but when the time came, our little group loudly protested.

Gray, Nellie, and Merry thought leaving the park to swim made no sense given that we have a lovely pool at home but no themed rides. I thought Mom seemed a little disappointed by the decision to stay in the park, but since Mom and Dad didn't swim with us when the whimsical kids did decide to go on Thursday afternoon, I guess she was probably just tired (rather than hankering for pool time). I was a bit exasperated that I'd fixated so much on getting a new pool camera and saved back Gideon's awesome Star Wars suit for Disneyland, but honestly I didn't feel like swimming on Wednesday afternoon either. With Disneyland right there, who needs a pool?

Don't ask me why nobody wanted to swim on Wednesday, but everybody wanted to swim on Thursday. I think Toy Story Mania being our last ride had something to do with it. The Pier is just so hot and sunny. They're a whimsical bunch. Who knows what they're thinking. I know Derrick was just glad to sit down and drink a Coke in the room.

I was excited for the opportunity to use my camera, though I was a bit concerned about what to do with Gideon. I remembered Penelope at two ready to leave the Grand Californian Redwood Pool in five minutes, before Grayson even had a chance to finish going down the slide. One of my fondest memories is suiting her up in that life jacket and sending her down the baby slide over and over again.

But Paradise Pier just has the one slide, and it's pretty big. I didn't know how I would handle Gideon's jealousy and frustration when they wouldn't let him slide.

Then to my surprise, they did let him slide. The lifeguard over heard me telling him I didn't think he could go down the slide, and she said, "Oh yes he can. He just has to put on a life vest."

When we got to the top of the stairs, we faced an additional hurdle. Gideon could only go down the slide if he climbed onto the slide and got into position and started going down the slide by himself. At the park, I usually helped him get into position and half the time, he still wouldn't slide. (He does now. He climbs up and slides down like a champ now.)

After a lot of effort--and letting a couple of people go ahead of us so he could get the idea--Giddy finally managed to make one trip down the slide...and that was enough for him.

He somehow got turned around on the trip down and entered the trough head first, but the life guard helped him out without a problem. After all of that, I couldn't believe they were still cool with him sliding a second time. It was equally surprising that he very enthusiastically said he wanted to go again and bolted right back up the stairs! He never did slide again, though. Getting seated on the correct place proved impossible for him because now that he'd done it once, the breeze at the top of the slide made him too cold when he moved away from my body.

Still he slid once, and it was glorious. Penelope slid millions of times, and even I slid a few times.

The lifeguard at the top asked Penelope if she'd been before.

"Last time I was five," she said.

"And that was what--five years ago?" the lifeguard asked.

Penelope hesitated, and she asked her, "How old are you now?"

"Eight," Penelope answered.

The girl blinked in surprise and told her, "You are very tall for your age."

Yes, that she is indeed!