Monday, June 30, 2008

Legoland Pirate Shores of Doom

Before I can tell you how much fun we had at Legoland, I need to get unburden myself of my personal blog-clog. I have plenty to say about our memorable tourist activities and just how fabulous, in general, San Diego is. But because I tend to be obsessive I tend to compartmentalize when processing, I have to surf this scary motherfucking wave all the way in before I can tell you about the happy waves we caught before this one. Legoland is geared towards families with younger children. This said, there are plenty of rides that are fun for adults and older children, but the majority of attractions are designed for children under 14 (I am being generous here). This also said: I do not have a problem with teenagers, so don't get all 'your ignorance is blissfully entertaining to me, oh mother of smallish children' on me. I do have a problem with children of any age who have not been taught to:

  1. listen to adults
  2. respect others
  3. physically control themselves

Legoland has a small area of the park which is a waterpark. Emphasis on small. I am not sure how new this feature is, but it seems they have not quite gotten the rules straight. They do seem to be strict about keeping the wet and dry parks separate, evident by our witnessing ejection of a ten-ish year old girl from the line for a boat cruise for wearing just a bathing suit.

The information offered on their website regarding small children is unceremoniously simple: Please note that swim diapers are required for all children under 4 years of age.
Because of some height-restrictions on the rides, we split up for a while so Supergirl could ride some thrill rides without sending her thrill-seeking brother into cataclysmic exclusion tantrums. I took him over to the Pirate Shores (of DOOM) and switched out his regular diaper for a swim diaper. I put his shorts back on over his swim diaper, because like most mothers whose brains were working that morning, I of course put many changes of clothes for the children into the backpack.
I wound through the entrance crowded with strollers and put the excited and wiggly boy down. He made a beeline for the water, but we were stopped by a teen attendant who asked me to take off Bubble's shorts to show that he had a diaper on underneath. I wrangled the shorts back off of him, then put him back down to explore the fountains and slides, but was stopped by another teen attendant who demanded that I put his short on over his swim diaper.
Okay, fine. Yes I rolled my eyes at her, which may have set the precedence for reciprocation, but I mentioned the website's sparse rules which had mentioned nothing about the need for more layers. She snapped back at me, "I didn't write the website! What do you think?" She gained momentum with the interest of some nearby guests, "I made that all up myself? I'm not responsible for the website!"
I didn't really care to argue this with her, so turned my attention to whatever it was that made Bubbles want to be there. This was, apparently, a small red waterslide. To reach this waterslide, one must first navigate through waterspouts up the steps of the play structure. Which is exactly what Bubbles was trying to do when he was kneed by some very large kid right off the steps and onto the ground.
Bubbles is not a wimp; he picked himself up faster than I could reach him and scrambled back up the steps. Meanwhile Power-Hungry Teen Girl in Important Looking Red Shirt was still enjoying her audience and much eye-rolling ensued. She seemed to have really liked me and was trying to get on my good side, evident by her attention to detailing my every move.
I started to walk closer to the slide - I didn't like the looks of the large pack of wild, running children headed back around their circuit, with my son directly in their path. I watched as they knocked over 2 small children and then headed for mine.
"HEY! Maybe you should do something about this?" I shouted at PHTGILRS as I pointed up at the pack and ran for my son.
She then grabbed my wrist and yelled in my face to take off my shoes. And something about parents not being allowed up there on the slide.
Again, WHAT THE?
I yelled back that I was not going to take off my damn tevas and she should let go of me right now. I literally shook her off when I saw Bubbles get knocked over face-down into a puddle of water, nearly trampled by the kids who knocked him over (again, no reprimand for the kids), and as I ran to lift him out of the puddle, the dumps-every-ten-minutes THREE HUNDRED GALLON bucket of water dumped on us, pinning him down further. At least I was over him at this point. When I got up I was soaked and stunned. Bubbles was screaming. I walked away in a daze as PHTGILRS had an indiscreet giggle. I considered walking over to her just to kick her in the shins, but changed my mind since I really just wanted to get my baby out of that danger soup.
We remained in the park for just another hour after that, dashing from ride to ride to squeeze it all in. I am glad we didn't leave right after that - It surely would have ruined our experience to have left on that note.
Did I write letters? You bet I did. I actually talked to the safety supervisor at length this morning. She assured me that 'the appropriate steps had been taken' with the employee. I can only hope that this means her PHTGILRS wearing ass has err...walked the proverbial plank.
More to come on the legoland fun, but consider this your PSA of the day: Keep your small and defenseless children away from Legoland's new and ill-planned water park area. The rest of the park is far more fun, and I would place bets as to how long until they close this new 'attraction'.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cute But Selling Real Cheap FREE!

Yesterday's excerpt:

Me: Yes, yes we ARE going to the beach! Hang ON! I have to get some toys together!
Me: Just a sec! Go get your suit on! You're not even ready! LET ME GET THE SUNSCREEN!
Me: Okay! I'm ready! Let's go!
Five minutes and one block later...
SG: I am tiiiiired. I don't want to waaaaaaalk. How come Bubbles gets to ride? That's not faaaaiiiir.
Me: (grrrrrrrr)

Five minutes and already at the beach later...
SG: My bathing suit is uncomfortable. My bum hurts.
Me: Sigh. It's the sand. Maybe you've heard of it?
SG: I don't like this suit! I want to take it off! I didn't bring underwear! I want my dress back on! I want to go home! I want to leave the beach now!
Me: *$%!#!!

This morning's excerpt:

Me: Let's take the dog for a walk.....
Me: Supergirl, slow down! You are going too far!!! (catching up w/her)
SG: Oh I am going to the faraway park.
Me: NO! turn around! Too far! We were going to go to the bagel store!
Me: HUH?? YOU are the one hoofing it to the park! If you want bagels turn around and let's go now!!
me:(*%*#!*!!) *
*(this is silent speak for 'bite me')

Saturday, June 21, 2008

San Diego Staycation, Part 1 (featuring beer, pizza and hot sex with lifeguards)

Oh Hai!
I am in San Diego. Actually, I am in the fancier town of La Jolla, because we is fancy people. What do you do about a vacation when work is slow, hubs is barely working, and gas is almost $5 per gallon? You jump on the opportunity to house-sit and puppy-sit when someone puts the word out. You email that person back right away even before your husband agrees, because you know that he will in fact come around before you put him in the car for the nine hour drive. He will see that this is the only way the family will actually get a vacation this year. I believe it is called the 'staycation'. $80 worth of gas got us here, and as long as we keep the dog alive and happy and the kids from breaking all the damn hummel figurines, we are golden.

So here I sit, on a lanai* which belongs to the mother of one of my sidebar/blogroll/link-homies. And no, I am not telling you who, because I really like this place and don't want any competition next time she goes away (provided my children don't break any of the precious hummels and we aren't forever banned).
I can see the ocean two blocks away from here, and let me tell you - it's pretty. Not only that, but the beaches here are lovely! It's like another taste of Fauxwaii. The sand is so soft! The water is not quite as icy as up north....though not as warm as some of my thicker-skinned friends have tried to convince me.
My children have no interest in that 'other land', so we are going to Legoland next week - and holy popsicles, Batman, are we excited!! People tell us we have to go to the zoo as well, and so I guess we will - more out of avoidance of the embarrassment we would surely suffer if we admitted we went to San Diego and didn't visit the zoo than out of personal desire to go there.

One of the main attractions down here, besides the zoo, is beer. Yes, beer. Especially for hop-heads, so I am in heaven right now. Last night dh and I committed ourselves to the dedication of taste-testing as much locally brewed IPA as possible during our stay. This started with a trip to the local BevMo, where within the aisles we could be heard squealing in ecstasy as we foraged for local IPAs and found not only IPAs but double IPAs and barleywines - it was a hop-head's dream. Upon our commitment to the beer consumption taste-testing, we had to find a perfect meal upon which to pour our beer so we wouldn't end up the drunkiest parents in the world. Guess what San Diego is also famous for?
Not just pizza, but thin crust pizza, which is the only kind of pizza I will eat.

So last night we immersed ourselves in local culture and ordered some very local pizza. It was so local that the store front was nearly invisible. We drove the block three times before we finally spotted the pizza place. This was due, in part, to dh's navigation skills, impaired by a sudden onset of Turret's episode, in which he could only shout the word, "BUGATTI!" every time we drove down the block. This did, of course concern me, but mostly because I was getting really hungry. Finally, I had to put a stop to this so we could get on with the pizza eating and beer tasting. "STOP SHOUTING BUGATTI! STOP IT! FIND THE PIZZA PLACE!"

Okay, apparently there is this car which can give men orgasms by merely being viewed through glass - a Bugatti Veyron. That would explain the shouting. And apparently there are only 15 of these cars in existence. And the car dealership right next door to the pizza place had TWO of them!
So I said, what the hell, go for it honey, if it makes you happy, and handed him 1.6 million dollars.
Okay that last part was a lie. I pushed him out of the car and demanded that he return with pizza in five minutes or I was not sharing any of the $50 worth of IPA in the back of the car.
Twenty minutes later he could still be found drooling and leaving handprints on the glass as he took 300 photos of his beloved fantasy car.

So I picked up a lifeguard who was desperate to seduce a forty something woman with two small children (happens to me all the time) and we shared the beer and got drunk and smashed some hummels for fun and went to Vegas and got married.
The End. (for now)

*It is too a lanai. If I want to pretend I am in Hawaii that is between me and my own delusions.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Martin Fire Fallout Update

The whole renegade thing of driving between barriers? I intended to be neither brave nor defiant at the time.

Let me make a few things clear from my previous post:

#1) I totally understand the need for police barricades to secure an area which is unsafe to enter.
What I do not understand is how it is safe to let these residents pass the barrier on foot - each with a personal justifiable cause to reach their homes - without escort or reassurance that their children [grammas, cats, dogs, chickens, ponies, photos, laptops, etc etc - I lump them all together because they were treated, in this case, equally] would be safely removed from the blaze. It was an oversight and I am treating it as such. I have been a part of this community for seventeen years. I will not drive away from my community when it is on fire. Unless I really, really have to. Unless we are on fire.

#2)I totally understand the need to keep the roadways clear for the many dozens of emergency vehicles.
I never once blocked the road with my tiny car. I pulled over for ANY and ALL official vehicles. I used the back roads whenever possible (seventeen years, people - I know all the roads) to stay out of their way. I bow down to the firefighters, and I did nearly just that. When I was 'allowed' to drive around the mountain again, I stopped to thank as many firefighters as I could.

I would also like to point out that neither I, nor anyone else at all would ever even think of blocking the major roads on our mountain. That is, except for one local woman who is indebted to me forever for not outing her lucky enough to remain nameless (JJ), who literally BLOCKED the main route off of the mountain with her GINORMIGON horse trailer while she CHATTED with a friend, causing elderly neighbors trapped behind her to panic in their own packed cars with the fire within view, when she so very easily COULD have pulled into a clearing just 100 feet ahead. But did not. For an eternity.
(It may have been seven minutes - definitely more than five. But this is an eternity when you are trying to evacuate an entire rural area which is ON FIRE.)
(OH HAI STOOPID WOOMMIN. U R N my revenge nightmares. Oh, did I mention PTSD? I think I've already said too much.)

#3)My family was never put in grave danger by our decision to stay at our home.
I would never put my children in danger. They were in the car immediately following the laptop before anything else at all. They were never in danger of their lives, not once in the whole ordeal. This is why we were able to help people. And this is why we were able to stay at home later on. We have a view spot (ten minute walk away) which is higher than many of the fire lookouts that were posted. We could tell if the danger increased.
Also, we have far more than just one way off of the mountain. While we live in a remote area, there are many veins to take us down or up and over and off of this mountain. Rest assured, we know them all. All except for one were open for exit.

#4) I am both flattered and afraid of the truth of my most favorite commentary on this whole thing by a friend to date, suggesting that I am: 'an antiestablishment gal to the bone'.

#5) The hot firefighters: I did not touch one of them inappropriately while hugging them in thanks. NO, not even ONCE.

#6) I still get choked up when I see the signs. Today I drove up and over the hill on my way to the bank. I counted twenty three thank-you signs in just four miles. I hope to have time to photograph some more of them before we head out on our mini-vacation (more on that later; I got distracted by the ransacking) on Wednesday. Oy.

So, a few weeks ago, this road by our house looked like this:

Today it looked like this:

Last week, our favorite hiking spot looked like this:

Then we watched it go up in flames:

And then, poof! there goes the ecological preserve (sob):

Driving through the burned site today:

My favorite, but still eerie picture, of the burn line. Ashes in the air, the red burned madrone* manzanita (see below), and the blissful green of the treeline:

*Edited to add: The red skeletal trees you see are a very rare manzanita (not madrone). This ecological preserve was home to the beautiful and endangered silver leaf manzanita, now even more endangered.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thank You, Firefighters

Until today, it has been very strange up here - eerily quiet but for constant airtraffic over our house.
The constant flying overhead makes one grateful.
And then, after three, seven, nine puts one on edge.


I wandered amongst my stuff. For three days a refugee in my own home. Our friends just two miles away suddenly as far as two hundred. We could not travel between houses within the boundaries of the evacuation; we could be escorted to the barrier - off the mountain.

Things that were not in the car but left behind to burn? Never to be seen again?
I scolded myself for not getting it the first time around. The picture of my father? Really? The pregnancy portrait? The photo album from college? The handmade quilt? The single malt scotch?
It all went into the already overstuffed car.


Now everyone is moving their belongings back into houses which were all ransacked by ourselves....

The tension has been unbelievable, although no tears were shed until yesterday, when I left the mountain for the first time (finally free to go and return) for milk and a birthday party- and I found myself driving past the mailboxes all tagged with yellow caution tape - the mark of evacuation. Driving past the many many many many hand written and painted on cardboard signs which read simply:


That's when I choked up and lost it.

It was a relief cry.

We are so very lucky.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Martin Fire did NOT burn my house (but I am going to kick some fire ass)

*Please forgive any typos - I was frantic and pecking away...have cut and pasted for the sake of the fire photos below...

We were at a last day of school pool party on Wednesday. Around 3:30pm we noticed a large plume of smoke. A few of us stopped to watch it, and in just 2 minutes it grew larger.
"It looks as if it is right by my house!" I yelled, and took off to get dh and Bubbles, because I had the best working car. Seven minutes later I skidded into our gravel driveway - the fire had gained momentum and was very very close to our house.
"HUSBAND!!!" I screamed - he came outside - what?
"Behind you!!" I yelled - and then he looked.
And then we started packing the cars.
I didn't know what to pack. First I got the laptop and photo albums, Supergirl's bway (special blankie) , and Elijah's quilt. Then the papers and birth certs. I could not find the lock of hair from Elijah.
I had to give it up. What more was I supposed to pack? The photos....clothes, diapers, toys, underwear, milk.
I couldn't find Supergirl.
I called Nikki (pool party house) and her husband told me that she went with...umm....someone! WHY DIDN'T I YANK HER ASS OUT OF THE POOL AND TAKE HER W ME?

For one thing, I didn't expect absolute mayhem to ensue after I left the pool party. My house was the only one in danger. I intended to get my son and then go back to the party, which was farther away from the fire.
No. The whole mountain was instantly threatened. Everyone left the party right after I did.

Within 10 minutes of packing the car, the first emergency evacuation call came in. What made me crazy was the absence of sirens. I was spinning out about packing and watching the smoke come closer; meanwhile, there was absolutely nobody on the job. No sirens, nothing. It grew and grew. I couldn't believe that I could get an evacuation call and still - no fire fighters were even on the growing fire.
I was more frantic and less effective.
Finally, a good friend drove up with my hysterical daughter (oh the points I have racked up for Mother-of-the-year!)...all was well.
When we got Supergirl back i tossed her in the car while dh still packed up the van with anything and everything of value(significant or otherwise) ...clothes, artwork, hard drives, giant tv screen....ETC...
I told him I would meet him at a friend's house. By the time I got there, her neighborhood was also being evacuated. I drove back to the pool party friends - they too had received the notice to evacuate. I wasn't much help with my stressed out nearly 7 yr old and loud 2 yr old, so I headed down the mountain. Only a couple miles down, I noticed at least 50 cars lining the road - all people from the mountain. I decided to pull over until I could tell what was up.
from this spot there was a very good view of the fire. It didn't look good. My house was to the left of the original fire, and it looked to be spreading that way. STRESSING OUT.
We were all parked there because there was a police barricade ahead, and they were only letting cars down the mountain. Nobody was allowed back up, so many of us were reticent to cross the line.
Then I noticed troops of people heading up the hill on foot, carrying cat carriers,etc. I finally realized that the barricade went both ways -they were not allowing anyone (even residents) to come up the mountain.
I recognized a friend and asked her if I could drive her and her son home to get things - when I took her to her house, the fire had spread to very close to her property - I knew that was my last time down that road.
after getting Sharon to her house and stopping her husband and son as they drove off in the van, I asked to use her phone. I frantically called dh.

I had to tell him to get Elijah's ashes.
How fucking nuts is that? so they wouldn't BURN INTO NOTHINGNESS??? Jeez.
Cause that would SUCK.
He said he had already packed the box.
Allrighty then. Two crazies.

I went back out to the roadside neighborhood parking lot and ended up ferrying 7 or 8 more people up the mountain.
As long as I went between the roadblocks at the bottom and top of the mountain it seemed to be okay, though I got a couple of flashing lights and waves from sherriffs cars stationed at certain blocks as they recognized me.
But after I picked up the old couple who could barely walk, and then the guy whose teenagers were home alone - old enough to stay home but too young to drive -they were going to have to physically stop me before i quit.
The police at the barricade would not let these residents drive through, but allowed them to walk. Six miles up the mountain to their stranded kids. On foot. In a forest fire. HOW SAFE IS THAT???
I kept coming back to the line of cars to pick them up as they crossed the barricade, and it also allowed me a good view of the fire. I could see a structure had gone up with the ominous dark and toxic smoke billowing higher.

Nobody could tell which way the wind was going to shift - it was swirling wind - I was getting nervous.

After driving up and down the mountain between barricades for 2.5 hours, I could tell that our house was not in the path of the fire anymore, as it had shifted into the creek canyon, so i stopped by to see if the husband had left yet. He had not.
He had packed up the truck and the van (umm? driving 2 cars? huh? I was driving the one already) and wasn't worried.
In fact he had put a pizza in the oven.
The hell?
After I talked to a friend higher up the mountain who could see the fire and assured me it was headed away from our house, he convinced me to get the kids out of the car, which I did, after I had it facing up the driveway in fast escape position.

The phone was ringing, Supergirl was going nuts, Bubbles was spinning out from hours in the car and the palpable stress. The power went out around 8pm, so we had to hook up the pioneer phone (the one with a cord).
Dh kept watching the fire from our peak - we were out of danger - and then we slept for a few hours. He ran up the hill again early in the morning, and the fire was still burning but headed away from us. He came back to sleep while I got up with our VERY LOUD AND MEDIA STARVED children.
About an hour after he had gone back to sleep, the wind picked up, and not in our favor. The sky went from blue to white, and the smell became more acrid. i woke him up and he ran back up to check. While he was gone, two police officers came to my door and asked when were leaving.
i gestured to the three full vehicles. "We're ready to go." I answered.
"Well, we just want to make sure you are leaving sooner rather than later."
"We're all packed up and ready to go."I answered again.
"Your neighborhood is in danger- the fire is not contained."
"I am waiting for my husband to come back down from the hill where he is watching the fire. I also need to find my cat. But gotcha. We'll get down the mountain."

(Notice how I never lied?)

We milled around all morning, bored, tense, picking up random things to add to the stuffed vehicles: tampons, cell phone charger, dvds, milk, port (it's really old port!)
took walks up to the moonrocks lookout post.

(Here is where my laptop battery ran out. I am now too tired to do anything but post this and the pictures as promised. IT WAS TENSE, DUDE. REALLY TENSE.)

Looking up towards my house and getting nervous...

Now getting very nervous - the new plume to the left looks to be my house...

Taken near the same time (by Dh) from the other end of the fire, it looks to be creeping right up on us.

Laguna Creek Canyon catches on fire...

Notice the red flame retardant being dropped...

And the many, many helicopters overhead - some even spraying us!- THANK YOU!

FIRE! Fire on the Mountain!


Our house is on one of those edges of pink.

The burned area is much much larger now, but has headed away from us and is contained in a canyon.

More to come, but did not want to take this access to electricity and internet for granted.

We are safe.

Goodbye for now.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Want Want Impi Now Now

I want this, I need this, I covet this.

Also, OMG, I covet this BIG ONE.

I had a gear-gasm when I saw this superlatives-need-apply item of camping supremacy:

Impi closed.

Impi opened.

We have the incredible coincidence of luck and trusting friends and have managed to somehow land a house and small dog sitting gig in the town of La Jolla. Near the beach.
Yes, I do know how to score a cheap family vacation. (scrub the sinks and tub before leaving!!)

We also drive a fabulously economical vehicle, which probably would fit all our stuff, but the kids would be wedged in between a cooler and a stressed doorlatch. So we have been looking to amend this situation with a nice rack and hard shell (that sounds dirtier than it is), and lo! The internet searches have brought us more other-continent envy.

No, we don't need this for the trip to San Diego, but we do need it. NEED IT.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Check Out My Finger Nipple

Okay, okay...I can tell by the outpouring of concern couple of people who actually asked, that the burning question in all of your minds is..."How is Gwendomama's finger?"

Funny you should ask.

Because I was just looking at the super disgusting pictures I took of said finger a few weeks ago (The Accident was 22 days ago), and yesterday decided to take some updated photos.

A friend of mine asked her wife to look at my finger a week ago. Her wife is a vet, and she was clearly uncomfortable looking at my human finger, but she did look. And she said, although it was a circumferential cut, it looked good (I had been soaking it in betadine every day), but that it would be a miracle if the tip re-attached. It was more likely to fall off. Either way, it was going to make piano playing feel a little funny for a while. She did mention that if there was any chance at all of it re-attaching, I would need to keep it wrapped up with neosporin, keeping it moist under a bandage. So I did.

So yesterday, when I removed the bandaid for my superstar finger's photoshoot, imagine my surprise when (and this would be where I would link to the rest of this post to avoid grossing you out, but since I have no patience for inserting code and figuring that out, you will just have to muddle through or leave RIGHT NOW)...

The tip of my finger came off with the band-aid!
It was super gross! Want to see?

OMG the tip of my finger is falling off! Quick! Turn the picture around!

But no - not really. It turned out to just be the thin layer of skin which was sitting on top of my (previously) severed fingertip. When it came off, it revealed the now bubbled-up fingertip, which appears to have re-attached itself. It looks sort of like a blister, and is probably at least as painful, but this is my actual fingertip.

Actually, upon looking at those pictures more... it does not look like a blister so much as it looks like a nipple.

Look how sad my other finger looks.

Are you jealous of my finger nipple? Or would that be 'nipple finger'. As in, from now on I get to have: a thumb, index finger, middle finger, nipple finger, and pinky.

Behold! The Finger Nipple!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pop a Pocky in Your Gob

Update on the Wacky Pocky taste test over here.

You know, being a review and all.

(hint: yum yum delicious)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pick a Pack of Wacky Pocky

I went to the Japanese store last weekend. I found the usual goodies, plus these:

That's one pack of 'Pretz Meets Wine' and one pack of Pocky, 'Brazilian Pudding'.

I have no idea what they will taste like, but the Pretz appears to be meeting pizza, not wine. And the Pocky appears to be flavored with toucans, tropical flowers, and thongs (because that is what I think of when I think of Brazil).

Tune in later for a taste review.