Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ella's Hair! (And a Rennaisance Faire)

So today we went to the Northern California Rennaisance Faire.  Every time we go to one of these Ella begs to have her hair done by the braid artists.  So to head that off, this time I did her hair before we went.  I asked her what she wanted, and she said a flower braid.  So that's what I did.

I am insanely proud of this.  I made it up all by myself.  It has petals, a stem, leaves, even roots!!

And butterflies nesting in the flower.  I kept looking at her hair all day long because I couldn't believe I had managed something so cool!

Plus she's just pretty darn cute!

After that major accomplishment on my part, the Rennaisance Faire seemed like a footnote.  :)  But we did have fun.

Ella was so excited to see a princess, and all the people in costume did not disappoint.  She didn't care whether they were dressed as a wench or a queen, they were all princesses to her.  (Though I have to say, Ren Fairs seem to be just the excuse all the trashy women are looking for to bare all.  Sheesh!)

We watched the horseman skills competition thing.

Where Ella was super excited to get to see the Queen.

We thought was going to be jousting.

We were bummed that that's not what it was.  (And Alex is bummed because he wanted to go to a local carnival and ride the rides, not a silly Ren Fair.)

But he's got to put up with his nerdy family that loves this stuff!!

We did try and go see the real jousting later, but even with the kids up on Anton's shoulders, none of us could see a thing.  Oh well.

We went to a bunch of different shows, comedy, magic, etc., and wandered around looking at all the different stalls and booths.

The kids played with toys.

And Alex let these nasty meal worms(?) crawl all over him.  He's not afraid of anything. (Though his face would say otherwise.)

We've come to the conclusion that unless you have lots of money to blow, you just can't have as much fun at a fair.  We had to tell the kids "no" a million times to all the fun stuff we really wanted to let them do.  Maybe after the next pay raise.

And since Anton is a huge sucker to our kids' pouting, after we got home and had dinner, he took them over to the local carnival so Alex could ride the roller coaster.

I stayed home.  I was all faired out.

But the kids loved it, and was the perfect end of the day for them.  Hooray for fairs!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Week: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This week has been quite the roller coaster.  I spent last weekend in Utah with my family for my littlest sister's wedding.  I didn't take Anton or the kids, and I was there for less than 2 days.  It was a whirlwind.  I also didn't even take my camera out of my bag, so no pictures.  It was a fun wedding with lots of quirky elements, like the bridal party wearing Converse and Vans and the bride's maids wearing their hair tied up in bandannas, etc.  It was fun.

I came back and jumped right into our second week of school.  I reactivated my membership to 24 Hour Fitness and was able to go swimming for the first time in forever.  The kids always made it too hard to go, but with them both in school, I actually have time to exercise!  It's so nice.

Then I got bad news.  The schools here have no idea how to balance their student loads, so two weeks after my kids have been in school, they now have to move to a new school.  I am so miffed about this whole thing, and there's nothing I can do about it.  They're getting sent to a school that gets terrible ratings and I hear really bad things about, but I have not choice about where to send my kids in this district with "open enrollment."  It's so messed up and backwards.  I'm tempted to just pull them out and homeschool them until their spot opens back up in the school they've been at, but I'm loathe to give up my all alone exercise/housework/grocery shopping time.  We'll give this new school a try, but I didn't get a whole lot of positive vibes when we visited on Friday.  Definitely a different demographic from our current school.  And now instead of walking to school everyday I'm going to have to drive back and forth 3 times a day.  Blah.  It's just a big mess.

So this week had it's highs, and it definitely had a super low.  Hopefully this next week can just level out and be "normal."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of School!

School started really late here, it seems, compared to everyone else, but it finally did start!  Ella is now in second grade, and Alex started Kindergarten.  Both my kids are now in school!  They grow up so fast.

Alex was up and dressed by the time I got out of the shower this morning.  He wore his backpack all through breakfast, which he would hardly touch because he was so excited.  Ella was just cool with it all.  After all, she is a veteran at this.

We live in walking distance to the school, so I will definitely be getting my exercise this year.  I get to walk back and forth three times a day.

Alex had his orientation yesterday, so after forcing a hug and kiss from him he was off.  He hardly gave me a backward glance.

Ella hadn't gotten to meet her teacher yet, but everyone says she's a great one.

Ella was a little shy waiting in line, but when it was time to go in, she marched right in and was right at home.

The verdict at the end of the first day:  Alex couldn't really tell me anything he did, but he seemed to have fun. Ella was in high heaven.  She made "four new friends," and already has a playdate on Friday with the set of twins that are in her class.  All the parents I met were super nice, and the PTA people seem to have it all together.  I think this is going to be a really good year, and hopefully the first one we won't have to move in the middle of!

Jelly Belly Factory

As a last hurrah to summer we went with some friends to visit the Jelly Belly Factory!

It has a free tour you can take to see how they make Jelly Bellies.

We got to wear goofy hats, which the kids loved, but mine just wouldn't stay on my head.  We weren't allowed to take pictures during the tour, but it was really cool to see all the millions of jelly beans.  Did you know it takes anywhere from 7 to 21 days to make a Jelly Belly?  Now you do.

My favorite part of the tour was getting to see all the really cool Jelly Belly mosaics they have.

Ronald Reagan was a huge Jelly Belly fan.  The blueberry Jelly Belly was invented just for his presidential campaign so he could pass out red, white, and blue Jelly Bellies.  He would start all his meetings in the White House by passing around a bowl of Jelly Bellies, and there was a special spill-proof Jelly Belly container on Air Force One.

I totally want to make a jelly bean mosaic now.

You also get free samples at the end of your tour.  I was brave and tried a moldy cheese one, and it actually wasn't too bad.  They also now have candy corn flavored Jelly Bellies, which were pretty good, but I think I'll just stick with the real things.

We stopped at McDonald's for lunch afterward, because even though a jelly bean shaped hamburger sounds good in concept, paying $8 for a kid's meal is not.  And that was our fun outing!  We had a great time and it was a fun way to finish off our summer.

Next up, first day of school!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to the Beginning

Anton's and my anniversary is on Tuesday.  It'll be eight years since we said our I do's.  Unfortunately, our anniversary falls on a weekday, specifically the one right before school starts, so we knew a fun night out on the town was out of the picture.  Instead, we decided to head back to the beginning this weekend and hang out in Monterey.

Eight years ago Anton and I were both in the military studying our different languages at DLI, the military language school in Monterey.  I fell for the good looking guy in a Navy uniform, and I managed to convince him that I was a nice sweet girl.  (Ha!)  Five months after we met we were married.  I don't feel the need to drag things out once I've made up my mind.  :)

At first we were kind of planning on recreating some fun events from when we lived in Monterey, like eating at Bubba Gumps on our first date.  But then I decided that we'd done all that stuff before and we needed to do some new fun things.  So here's how our fun weekend went.

On Friday afternoon we picked Anton up from work and headed out for the 2 hour drive down there.  We had decided to camp there on Friday night so we would have more time to play.  The campground down there doesn't take reservations, so it's always nerve wracking planning to camp there because if it's full there are no other choices in the area.  But we were lucky.  After paying a pretty Monterey fee for a campground ($27!!) we set up camp.

It's a beautiful campground surrounded by trees.

Just be warned, if you ever stay there, it's right next to the Army base and you will be woken up at 7 a.m. by reveille.

It's been foggy and misty both times we've camped there, but I think it just adds to the charm.

We set up camp as fast as we could because the place we wanted to get dinner from closed at 6.  We managed to get there about ten minutes before closing.  Now, this restaurant, if you can call it that, is definitely not gourmet.

But it has the HUGEST sandwiches ever, and they are the best.  You'll never want to eat at Subway again.  You can get these beauties at Compagnos, a little convenience store right outside the base.  But the real reason for eating there is not the sandwiches, it's the cake!

Anton and I spent many a date with a slice of their cake.  Yum!  We took our food out to Asilomar beach.  It was cold and foggy, but a stop there is a must.  This is the beach where Anton and I had our first awkward kiss and where he proposed to me.

Ella played in the sand and Alex wore himself out chasing the seagulls.

Then before it got too dark we headed over to the Dennis the Menace park.  This park features nowhere in the dating history of Anton and I, it's just super fun for the kids.

They have all sorts of fun slides.

A real full-sized train you can climb all over.

And a maze and a swinging bridge and all sorts of fun things.  Alex managed to convince me to climb through a big pipe with him, and Anton was so obliging as to take a lovely picture of my rear for you all.

We played until the city employee had to kick us out because he was closing the park.

Then back to the campground to go to sleep.  Well, at least some of us slept.  I sure didn't.  Have I ever mentioned I hate camping?  I do.  Plus, I asked Anton multiple times if it was supposed to rain because we were taking our bigger tent that is not so waterproof any more.  He assured me that rain was not in the forecast.  But as soon as we all settled in to sleep, rain it did.  All night long.  We were all damp and fully wet around the edges in the morning.  Not fun.

We needed a good wake up, so we headed over to First Awakenings for breakfast.  We'd never eaten there before, and we regret that fully now.  They have divine pancakes and crepes and eggs Benedict to die for!  I was tempted to lick the Hollandaise sauce off my plate, but I refrained.

It was still somewhat drizzly when we finished eating, but we decided to press on with our plans.  We drove over to Carmel where we told the kids we were going on a treasure hunt.  All throughout the shopping district in Carmel are all sorts of little hidden alleyways and courtyards.  We gave the kids a map and had them lead us through a bunch of them.

And these aren't normal back alleys, most of them are flowery and beautiful.  The kids had lots of fun, and the treasure at the end was a candy shop.  We let them each pick something out.  Ella chose a giant peanut butter cup, and while she was eating it, I hear her say, "Uh oh."  That never signifies something good.  I look over, and sure enough, she has lost a tooth!

Yuck.  Falling out teeth are so gross!

We took a break to eat our treats in a fun little park.  The kids each made a wish in a little pond there.

Anton and I just sat and took a break.

After our treasure adventure we headed over to the Carmel Mission.  Don't think less of me, but I wanted to see it after reading all about it in the Mediator series by Meg Cabot.  I'd never even heard about it before reading those books.

It's one of the old Spanish missions that line the coast.  We wandered around the grounds, and managed to get a quick peek inside the church since there were three weddings going on that day.

It was pretty cool to see, though Anton and I both agree it probably would have been cooler and made more sense to us if we were Catholic.

Next we headed back into Monterey to find a bench along the beach to sit and eat our leftovers from the night before.

I was pooped from my lack of sleep and all our exploring, so I sat and rested while the kids and Anton went scrambling over all the rocks.

They found a dead sea lion and a tide pool full of fun creatures, like this hermit crab:

And then we made one more spontaneous stop at the Point Pinos lighthouse.

It's the longest continuously running lighthouse on the west coast.  It was a fun little place to see.

And that about does it.  It was a full weekend, but I have to admit I was glad to head home.  I have a one night limit on camping.  Though Anton and I have both agreed that we'd be more than willing to retire to Monterey some day.