Thursday, July 30, 2009

A night of Firsts

On Tuesday, Miles and I took Claire & Aeron to the Mid State Fair. We haven't gone the last few years. Didn't seem appropriate, somehow. The girls used to be freaked out by noise and strangers. But we decided this year we could take them, especially since they learned about the fair at school and have been asking, non-stop, when we could go.

We parked in downtown Paso and took the shuttle to the fairgrounds. The girls about vibrated out of their skins when they saw the yellow school bus we would ride. Claire was jumping up and down and shrieking, "A SCHOOL BUS! MAMA! LOOK! A SCHOOL BUS!" Another fella waiting for the shuttle was grinning behind his sunglasses. This was their first ride on a proper, yellow school bus

At the fair, we saw the animals. The sheep and goats were all having dinner, the pigs were all asleep, the bunnies all seemed bored to death. The horses withdrew from the doors of their stalls when they saw the girls approaching, I'm sad to report.

Then it was time for a treat. Ice cream in waffle cones. We found a (relatively) peaceful patch of grass to sit on and the girls snarfed down their ice cream in record time. Miles and I split a funnel cake. I must be getting old; all I could think of was what the grease and sugar were going to do to my cholesterol and hips....

Next, we took the little girls on the carousel. Aeron went fairly traditional, and chose a horsey. Claire got on a kitty. The ride really needed some maintenance. It was jerking up and down rather than gliding. But the girls loved it!

After the ride, it was time to go home. On the way out, Miles got them both a toy trumpet. Imagine, if you will, the sound of small elephants protesting as they are being stomped on by large elephants. That's the sound of those trumpets.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Dodge-Clark Summit

This weekend, Miles, the little girls and I drove down to Reseda to visit Melinda, Johan and Baby Lucie. Just a quick visit this time, but we already have plans for another visit on the books.

Some highlights include:

Claire and Aeron running naked in the back yard and jumping in Lucie's kiddie pool. Great fun for all; splashing and get hosed down by Melinda ....until Claire pooped on the lawn.

Oh, yes, she did!

Then she lost her naked privileges.

I seemed to have not entirely conquered that stomach bug. Sadly, it made it presence felt by Saturday afternoon. More Pepto shots for Jen. But, hey! They have cherry flavor Pepto Bismal now!

Claire and Aeron were all over Lucie. Aeron, in particular was so excited, the poor baby was being positively mauled. But Lucie is a happy, easy-going kid, so she took the exuberance in stride. The twins also had a swell time with Lucie's toys. Which we left all over the house. (sorry, Melinda!)

Johan BBQ'd organic bison burgers on Saturday night. Then he and Miles went to see the new Harry Potter flick. All the girls stayed home and watched "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and had real buttered popcorn.

Miles took the little girls to church to see Pastor Johan in action. Much ooh-ing and ah-ing for the local Methodists over the cute twins. I missed it - still feeling crummy, but someone had to pack, as we needed to get outta Dodge (ba-dum-bum!) shortly after church.

The drive home wasn't bad. Some traffic in LA, but that's to be expected. The girls are getting better about "quiet time". A good thing, too. The stream-of-consciousness babble from the girls was driving Daddy mad. So we bought donuts and milk and told 'em to put a sock in it. Then Mama took a nap and Daddy was able to plug into his IPod, drink coffee and listen to geek shit.

When we made the turn at Ventura and could see the ocean, Aeron cried, "Mama! Look! The ocean! The water is all sparkly! Just like a big swimming pool!"

Good times.

EDIT - I almost forgot the best part! On Saturday afternoon, the doorbell rang. Melinda went to answer, with the little girls following. It was a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses, two impeccably dressed gentlemen of color. "Actually, my husband is a minster," says Melinda. (Translation - "We got the Jesus thing covered, thanks.") Claire peeks out the door, and asks, loudly, "Is that Obama?"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Potty Update

Aeron is doing really well on the potty training front. She spends her days wearing underpants and she perfectly willing to interrupt her play time to go potty. She's is very proud of herself; she "goes poop for Daddy!", bless her heart. She is still demanding the bribe; a.k.a. gummy penguins or jelly beans, but her main motivation seems to be pleasing the grown-ups.

This morning at breakfast, she piped, "Ooooh. I gotta go potty!" She leapt down from the breakfast bar and scampered up stairs to the Fish Bathroom. Next I hear a small voice warbling, "It's Potty gotta git down low-oh-oh-oh!"

Elmo is the bomb!

PS: Claire still holding out, but there are signs she's get interested. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Clark Family Summer Stomach Bug Fest!

For the 3rd summer in a row, our family has been struck with a norovirus, a nasty, highly infectious bug that causes vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal cramps and abject misery.

The first year this happened, the whole family was visiting Trevor in Portland. First Kayla went down, then me. I was sick in bed for days and in someone else's bed, to boot. (Interestingly, I haven't been invited back to Trevor's since....) Pam & Terry seemed to get a slight case as well. Our trip home was full of Immodium AD, bananas and lots of potty stops.

Last year, it started with Aeron. She barfed in the wee hours (why do they always get sick in the middle of the night?!), then a couple more times during the next day, and then she was fine. Could have been just one of those kid things, right? Our friend Brett was visiting that weekend, and, unknowingly, we sent him home to die alone. Poor man "groveled like an animal for 3 days, wishing for the sweet release of death". All 6 of us got the bug that time. Kayla did her best to stave it off, but succumbed on the first night of summer camp. Spent the night in the infirmary after horking up her toenails, poor thing.

This year, I was Patient Zero. I woke up at 1 in the morning with a feeling of small, rabid animals attempting to chew their way out of my vitals. I'll spare my readers the more gruesome details, but let's just say .... it was a rough night. By 5am, Miles was feeling ill. Yesterday, he and I spent the whole day in bed, doing Pepto Bismol shots, and moaning. No other victims, as of yet. Kayla fled to a friend's home for the night. Miles and I have mostly recovered, but we're still weak as kittens. I've spend what upright time I have today disinfecting everything; the whole house smells like lemon-scented bleach.

What causes this outbreak of pestilence every summer? Maybe the norovirus has a season, like bubonic plague. Perhaps this is a message to me to be more picky about disinfecting doorknobs. Have I offended the Flu Gods? What ever it is, I'm sorry already!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Birthday Week is officially OVER!


What a week. Lots of places to be. Lots of surreptitious wrapping of gifts. Lots of schlepping around. I feel I've driven all over the County. Oh, wait.... I did.

The schedule looked like this.

  • Monday: Jen's birthday. Lunch with Miles. Dinner, with cheesecake and presents with the family
  • Tuesday: Cameron's birthday. Miles & Cam go to Monterrey for the day. Dinner, cake and presents at Susan and Ron's
  • Wednesday: Claire & Aeron's birthday. Lunch at the country club. Dinner at Applebee's. Cake and presents at home.
  • Thursday: no activities (except catch-up on house chores not done the rest of the week)
  • Friday: Birthday party at school for Claire & Aeron. Mama brings 3 dozen cupcakes.
  • Saturday: Beach party at Cayucos for Cameron. Horde of kids. Much yelling at children, reminding them not to drown.

Stick a fork in me; I'm done!

PS: Miles just told me there will be a birthday party at church tomorrow for all the July kid birthdays. Ack.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"It's Potty Time; you got to get down low...!"*

It is time.

Time to get very, very serious about potty training.

Claire and Aeron turned 4 yesterday. Aeron has done some good work in the potty department, but Claire has resisted mightily. "I'll go later, Mom."

Now. Every single health professional has told me not to worry, they'll go when they are ready. But still wearing diapers at 4 years old? Ok, I gave 'em time and now they need to be ready. I'm getting embarrassed.

This morning I talked to the twins and explained they were big girls now and needed to stop wearing diapers. The girls were in underpants all day, except for nap time. I'm using jellybeans from Easter as an incentive. Aeron has gone potty repeatedly, and Claire went once. Only one accident; Claire was able to stop peeing and get to the potty, albeit with damp drawers.

Stay tuned for more Potty News!

* if you recognize the quote, you obviously have spent too much time with Elmo

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Birthday Week continues: Claire & Aeron

I was awakened this morning by Aeron crawling into bed with me.

"Mama. Is Cameron's birthday over?" she whispered.


"Then is it MY birthday?!!?" a bit louder.



We had a busy day. First, our friend Belen came to visit and brought the girls each a plant. Next, we had lunch with Gra-Maw at the country club. Then the girls were given a couple of gifts at Gra-Maw & Papa's house. Golf clubs! Claire practiced her drive, while Aeron appeared to be concentrating on her chipping.

After a fun afternoon in San Luis, we all went to dinner at Applebee's. (Wednesday is Kid's Night; 99 cent meals) The girls got their faces painted, ate corn dogs and charmed the socks off the surrounding patrons. One older lady, after the girls introduced themselves and breathlessly informed her it was their 4th birthday, gave them each a couple of dollars. How's that for bragging rights?! My daughters are so adorable that perfect strangers give them money!

Then we all came home, had cake and opened presents. The girls got books and CDs of Disney music and clothes and games and paint sets and crayons and little stuffed otters from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Just as we were thinking it was time to shovel the girls into bed, Cousin Karen arrived to wish them a happy birthday. So now, Daddy is reading a couple of the new books and Claire and Aeron are struggling to keep their eyes open.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Birthday Week continues - Cameron's birthday

Today is Cameron's 11th birthday.

First thing this morning, Miles and I gave Cam his gift - a cell phone. He was thrilled, of course.

Miles and Cameron took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They had quality guy time and quality fish time.

Then we all trooped over to Susan and Ron's place for dinner. Grilled salmon, with roasted veggies and rice and salad, with an ice cream cake to finish. Yummy! The little girl and Kayla played in the hot tub before dinner and then the girls got to chase chickens. Good times....

Cam got some good swag; a fishing rod and tackle box, a science kit and a fabulous collage from Kayla. Cameron declared this to be the best birthday ever!

Jen's Tips & Pointers: Holding back the years

I'd had an idea for a while to write series of posts - "Jen's Tips & Pointers". I have some bits of hard-won wisdom I'd like to share. Feel free to completely ignore my advice; my kids do.

Today's subject - Holding back the years.

There are 5 basic ideas that can go quite a ways toward the goal of looking younger than one's calendar years. Mostly aimed at women. But the fellas can benefit, too.

1.) Sunscreen. Daily. Look younger and avoid skin cancer!

2.) Stand up straight. Makes the girls look perkier, if you.....

3.) Purchase the very best support brassiere you can afford. Especially if you've had kids. Forget surgery, invest in underpinnings!

4.) Use a whitening toothpaste. As we age, your teeth get dingier from all the coffee, tea, red wine, soda, etc. Whiter teeth also encourage one to smile more, thus looking less like an cranky old fart.

5.) Keep your hair shiny. As we age, we have less glossy locks. If you color, ask for a gloss with your touch-up. Use a leave-in conditioner/gloss finishing spray; look for silicone as an ingredient. Sleek and glossy = young and sexy! Also, Kayla suggests you don't cut your hair short. No mom hair!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Birthday Week begins!

My birthday started out quite nicely. My husband and little girls woke me up with kisses (twins) and coffee (Miles). Then they shoved the birthday hat on my head, then my loving (?!!?) husband took my picture. With bed head!

Then Miles brought me my favorite breakfast - leftover Chinese takeout! Man, a good cuppa java, with orange chicken & fried rice in bed is the way to start the day!

Then, I went to SLO to have lunch with Miles. Next was a quick trip to the bookstore. We ran into Gerke downtown; it was nice to see him.

After picking up the girls from preschool, the whole family headed to my in-law's house for lasagna and cheescake. Whoo, I'm now in a food coma......

Tomorrow - Cameron's 11th birthday!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The birthday lookie-loo

Does anyone else do this? As your birthday approaches, you start to think about where you are in your life? Think about the goals not met, the projects undone? I find it's too easy for me to focus on the negative stuff, and I forget to count my blessings. So, I forthwith enumerate the good stuff.

1.) Health. Mine, my husband's, my kid's, my in-law's, the whole extended family and friends. I don't take it for granted and I'm very, very grateful we have it.

2.) Family. All the Clarks. The Kurths and Junes. My 4 children. My wonderful husband!

3.) Home. Not just the comfortable house we live in. The Central Coast, and it's oak-studded hills and great wine. California, with it's wacky, nutty-crunchy ideas and great farmer's markets. The United States of America, which doesn't limit my legal rights just because I'm a girl, or change governments by force.

4.) Opportunities. I can go back to school. I can plant all the roses and fruit trees Miles will let me. I've got the ability to help others less fortunate than my self. I can watch my beautiful twins grow and learn. I am able to stay home with my kids.

I've got it pretty good.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Small world; wouldn't want to paint it

California is a large state. 36 million plus folks here. 5th largest economy on the planet. 3rd largest state in the Union, with an area of 163,696 square miles. But it's crazy who we run into while out and about.

Miles and I took the little girls to Morro Bay today. Stopped and got coffee and yummies, then went to Tidewater Park. The little girls had a blast playing on the pirate ship, running about barefoot in the sand and watching the kayaks in the Bay.

I was sitting on a retaining wall, watching the girls, when I saw this oh-so-cute baby crawling in the sand. She had a huge grin, which showed all two of her teeth, and big blue eyes. Her mama saw me smiling at her child, and we struck up a conversation. The family was visiting her mom, she has a 4 year old boy (also on the pirate ship), she and her husband live in the Central Valley. She asked about the twins, and did we have any other kids? Miles had joined us by this point, so when I mentioned Kayla and Cameron, the woman stopped in her tracks, pointed at my husband and said, "I know you!"

"I've been trying to figure our where I know you from!" Miles says with a grin.

Turns out the nice lady with the beautiful baby is Micah, who was Kayla's favorite teacher at the Cal Poly Children's Center. She left Poly years ago, changed careers, married and now raises grass-fed beef in the Valley, while raising her two kids. We met her husband, Seth, told her all about Kayla and Cam and what they've been up to. It was a really nice encounter.

How come all the nice folks with young kids, that we connect with, always live hours away?!?