Sunday, April 30, 2006

Go Fish

On Thursday, my Mom's Club ventured to Long Beach to the Aquarium of the Pacific, and I figured this was a prime time to take the Tenster since a) she was free! and b) we were getting in at the drastically reduced group rate. The only bummer to the plan was that we had just been in that exact spot the night before for the Wiggles concert, and the group was meeting at 10am...which given the vaguries of Southern California traffic meant that we had to be up bright and early to make it. However, since my kid spent 40 minutes being totally enchanted by a tank of $.19 goldfish at Wal Mart last weekend, I figured this was going to be well worth the effort.

Tenley felt differently.

First, she was not at all sure she liked being woken up before 9am. Particularly when she had been out partying the night before and had had great difficulty relaxing to go to sleep. I was kind of hoping she would nod back off on the drive (which was remarkably easy), but no luck. She perked up after we arrived and she met more of the other kids who were running around on the lawn out in front. Running around on the lawn with the big kids was good, but then she saw the sight that caused her to turn on her selective toddler hearing: pidgeons. Dozens of very well fed pidgeons the were milling around on the picnic tables on the far side of the grassy expanse. She took off straight for those poor birds at a dead run, seemingly oblivious to the hoarse shouts of her poor mother as I trailed after her. She terrorized the birds for a few minutes before I forced her back to the gathering spot away from the tables/junglegyms.

When we were taken in to the Aquarium, our guy took us out to the touch pools in the back since the skies were threatening to rain and he wanted to make sure we had a chance to do that. Tenley felt this was a good decision, because what she saw were huge pools of water and other people her size hanging into them head first. As soon as I took her out of her stroller she headed for the nearest Sting Ray tank like she had heard her name called on the Price is Right. I managed to get her sweater off of her before she plunged her hands into the warm water and happily began splashing. Then she saw the Rays and the excited pointing and grunting began. Several came by her, but were too deep for her to reach. Finally one was up at the surface and she was able to touch him. She giggled, stood up and clapped, and then threw herself back at the tank and began squealing shrilly and batting her hands in the water in hopes of attracting another one. We spent a good thirty minutes there, with Ten refusing to leave her spot as she played in the water between Ray touches, and waving at the ones who would stick a wing out of the water by the rocks opposite her. Eventually I dragged her away (literally) and then tried to induce hypothermia by holding her soaking wet torso up in front of this giant shark head with a fan in it's mouth to dry off with. Finally I just put her sweater on her and took her inside.

And that was where Tenley's interest in this outing ended. I figured if she loved plain old goldfish, wait until she saw tropical fish, sharks, and octopuses! But no, she was bored. She pointed at brain coral and said "ball"; but the leafy sea dragons, lobsters, seals, otters and the giant sea turtle who came up to the glass right in front of her and just sat there blowing bubbles and bunting his nose at her were apparently uninteresting. There was a tank of small fuzzy crabs and almost transparent prawns that she thought was pretty fabulous and spent a good 15 minutes with her nose pressed to the tank babbling and pointing at things....but that was it. I was rather disappointed.

We did make the pre-requisite stop in the gift shop on our way out, where Tenley picked out a package of foam sea creature shapes to play with in the bath (they're great- they stick to the side of the tub when wet) and I got her a counting board book, "Over In the Ocean In a Coral Reef" by Marianne Berkes (it has really cool clay polymer illustrations by Jeanette Canyon). Then we saddled up for the long drive home, which once again went very quickly, which was good because it meant that Tenley continued the nap she started a block away from the Aquarium and I got one too. I don't know if she dreampt of fish, but I did...and the smile on her face when she touched that Sting Ray.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hat Part VI

We bought Tenley this hat at the Wiggles concert last night. It's a little big for her right now but she loves to grab it, put it on and run all over the house. Most of the time that means bumping into things because she can't see when it falls over her face!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tenley's 1st Concert

Well, we lost our minds and bought tickets to see the Wiggles. Yes, it's true: we have crossed over the border into full-fledged parenthood by schucking out the bucks to take our little music loving sweetie to her 1st concert and buy her overpriced t-shirts at the ripe old age of 19 months.
We know Ten loves music, but we weren't sure what she was going to think of the whole live concert situation. As anticipated, she loved the Long Beach Arena because it had about a bazillion staircases for her to walk up and down. She was also delighted to watch the tons of other people roughly her age that were milling around and dancing. As for the show, and the Wiggles themselves: the music was a hit. She clapped along (not at all in time to the music), attempted to wave her arms, and generally did the bounce up and down dance for 40 minutes straight. She would jump back and forth between Jeff and I and continue bouncing in his lap, and want me to help her clap and rock her back and forth. She was having a great time rocking out, and really couldn't have cared less about the 4 Austrailian millionares doing all the work on stage.
But after running around the Arena and then all the dancing and being dazzled by the loud music & shiny lights she was toast by the last 20 minutes of the show. She was climbing into our laps and sucking her thumb all the while watching the action on the stage. She did perk up when they began singing "Fruit Salad" and "Hot Potato", but we decided to make a break for it during the finale.
Poor Ten was on sensory overload and while wanting desperately to sleep, her little mind apparently wouldn't let go, so she settled for wailing angrily until we were in Corona when she finally nodded off. As I write this, she has been bathed and had a snack, and we're trying to wind her down so she can go to bed, especially since she's getting up early to go right back to Long Beach and visit the Aquarium with our Mom's Club...but she doesn't know that.

Jeff and I called the concert a success: Ten had a really good time, and wore herself out; and Jeff and I had a fabulous time watching all the little kids...and we secretly enjoyed the show too.

Toot toot chugga chugga Big Red Car.....we're still singing that damn song.....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It Was Grandma Barbara's Birthday...

...but we got the present!

Ok, the plan was to leave at the butt crack of dawn on Friday to head to Clovis for Grandma Barbara's birthday with a minor detour through LA to go get Tenley's passport. However, Jeff's new server at work decided to have an identity crisis on Thursday afternoon, and on Friday at 6pm Tenley and I were still at home watching Dora waiting for Daddy to get home from his non-existent non-day off. I figured that we weren't going to go...but we were...we just decided to leave at 5am on Sat. Ugh. It actually turned out to be a great time for making the trip, and the Tenster politely slept most of the way there.

We arrived and visited with Jeff’s sister, Beth, and brother in law, Bill, got the recap on the previous nights party, feasted on leftover birthday cake and started making plans for the day. Then, while Tenley was distracted outside by Charlie the dog, Jeff and I made our escape. It was a serious escape attempt: Tenley would be staying overnight at her grandparent’s house, and Jeff and I would be a couple blocks away at the Hampton Inn, and we had no intention of being seen until after church on Sunday morning. If we hope to take an adults-only vacation this fall and leave Tenley with Grandma Barbara, it’s only fair to start getting her used to the idea well in advance.

So there we were with a whole afternoon and night to ourselves. We were giddy with excitement- it was hard to narrow down the list of possible Tenley-free activities to something do able.

We started with a proper English afternoon tea in Old Towne Clovis. It was in an old Victorian house with little round tables draped with Battenberg lace table cloths and mismatched sets of china. It was the sort of place I could just see Tenley dipping her fingers in lemon curd and finger-painting the table cloth, or examining the cream pitcher in minute detail (as she spilled it all over herself and the floor) for several minutes and then chucking it and hitting the bride-to-be at the next table right in the head. We immediately decided we were not taking her there until she could understand “sit and behave like a lady”.

Then we headed off to get Jeff a haircut and me a pedicure. An hour later Jeff’s hair was tidied up (although we agreed that she was a little timid and could have thinned the back and top more) and my pigs shimmered in OPI’s “Dress to Empress” with pretty daisies on the big toe.
With that we decided it was time for a nap, and went and checked into our room and got two hours of uninterrupted shut eye. When the alarm went off we could have gone right on sleeping, but we decided that a movie and dinner sounded better.

Well, we missed the showing of V for Vendetta but we did something even better: we spent an hour wandering around the Borders...just looking at magazines and books... listening to CD’s....and going nowhere near the children’s section. The words “Tenley, no! Put that down!” were not uttered once. We actually bought a couple magazines to read back at the hotel.

Then we were faced with an incredibly difficult decision: where to have a childless dinner. Eventually we settled on the Cheesecake Factory. There was a brief 30 minute wait which we passed sitting at the bar sipping cocktails. We sat at a table for 2, and we didn’t have to move the sugar caddy, silverware, butter and candle to the farthest side of the table or floor. We chatted with the nice couple next to us who were celebrating their 18th anniversary, lingered over our food, and had dessert.

We missed the next show of V for Vendetta, so we went back to our hotel read our magazines and enjoyed having “couple time”! Everything was great until about 2 am when I busted in on Jeff using the bathroom and began vomiting in the sink. Apparently dinner tasted good but actually wasn’t good. Jeff confessed that he didn’t feel so great either, and I started feeling much better after I reviewed my dinner.

By morning we were fine, and we joined the rest of the family at the Orbit Cafe for breakfast. After we arrived we discovered that it had been no picnic at the Park homestead either: Tenley was really well behaved but refused to take a nap and wouldn’t go to sleep until 11:00pm. She then decided to get up at 3:30 Grandma & Grandpa got to get up too, and Aunty Beth and Uncle Bill were jarred awake by the screaming as well. Needless to say, Grandma & Tenley slept through church.

So, it was really fabulous to have 20 hours all to ourselves, and Grandma & Grandpa considered our first attempt at leaving Tenley alone overnight marginally successful! We won’t be able to repeat the experiment in May, because we’ll be on a cruise...but we’re looking forward to our next attempt in June!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Red Letter Day Remembered

It was a year ago today that things got really exciting. A little after 9 in the morning, my cell phone rang and it was my agency calling to tell me the stork had been sighted, and our referral could come at any time. (Yazmine was giving me a clue, I was just too obtuse to get it at the time) I called Jeff at work to tell him the good news, and Meg and I trotted off to Monclair plaza for some shopping, and then to downtown Claremont for lunch. Having bought Tenley’s first pair of shoes and indulged in a little dessert at the ice cream shop, we were heading home when my cell rang. It was my agency again. In point of fact, it was the director of my agency calling to tell me I was a Mom. I veered across two lanes of traffic and whipped into the nearest parking lot so I could write down the details. I was glad Meg was there- it was so much more fun to share the moment with someone- I think I would have been very disappointed to have been also helped that she reminded me to put the car in park before I hit the building. We called Jeff- who was stunned- and then we sat there overwhelmed and weeping with surprise and joy. Neither my Mom nor Jeff’s parents could be reached, and for once it was my Dad who got to hear the good news first. Tina was still on maternity leave, delighted to be among the first to know, and happily got out her “What to Expect the First Year” book and converted Tenley’s height and weight from the metric and figured out which percentiles she was in. Jeff and I celebrated by buying the furniture for the nursery and dining at the Panda Inn which was where we had dinner after our first meeting with our agency.

So, a year later Meg and I got back in the CRV and headed for Montclair plaza again- this time with Tenley in tow. Our destination was the JC Penney portrait studio so we could have Ten’s 18 month pictures taken. Our appointment was at 11:10, and if we had been taken on time we might have gotten more than the 6 pictures we managed before the Tenster was done. She was so good during the long wait, but it was windy and her allergies were bugging her so by the time we actually took the pictures she was tired and clingy. Still 2 of the 6 were really good and a 3rd was ok.

Tenley fell asleep as we cruised down the freeway a couple off ramps to downtown Claremont. We got lucky and found a parking place within a block of Aruffo’s Italian Cafe, and they had a nice spot by the window where Ten could continue to slumber in her stroller while Meg and I relived last year’s yummy lunch at this spot. Then we strolled up to Tattle Tales where Meg had bought the shoes, and picked up some cute orange barrettes to complement Tenley’s summer wardrobe. The next stop was, of course the ice cream shop for a little dessert.

Then we left and went to THE parking space at the insurance office where I sat on the phone and got the details about my new daughter. We commandeered a nice lady to take a picture of the three of us to commemorate the occasion.

Meg summed the whole thing up perfectly while we were at lunch: it’s yesterday and forever. It feels like Tenley has always been here- we search old high school memories for where she was although we know she was not even a thought, and yet it feels like it was just yesterday that we walked these same paces and cried tears of joy as we found out about the new life that was becoming a part of our family....but it’s been a whole year.

...we close our eyes and the world has turned around again...we close our eyes and another year has come and gone...
~Oingo Boingo

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

TAGGED! Again!

Me, the brunette and Meg (as in Aunty Meg the Cleaning Natzi and Sky Waitress), having had one too many drinks and waay too good a time on New Year's Eve.

ACK! I got tagged again!! This time I only have to tell you 6 weird things about myself, and then I have to tag others.

So here it is: 6 things you probably never wanted to know about me!

1. I have 2 major pet peeves. The first is girls/women who wear chipping peeling cracked nail polish and don't either take it off or fix it. It just looks trashy & tacky. It says "I don't pay attention to detail, and I am lax in my grooming habits". If you can't be bothered with so trivial a detail, either don't wear it or stick to clear. This goes for both fingers and toes. The second one is a biggie: people who can't use the English language correctly. I'm not talking about the foreign tourist or immigrant that has made an effort and is doing the best that they can. I'm talking about people born and raised here who say things like "I don't got none." People using double negatives, incorrect prepositions, and improper tense just drives me up the wall. I have actually corrected complete strangers out in public.

2. I am a serious "mellow mouth". The red sauce at Del Taco is as far as I go. There are no red pepper flakes, chili peppers of any kind or bottles of Tabasco in my house. I think it started when I was 3: my dad was eating a quesadilla and I asked for a bite. He examined it closely, selected a spot, and told me to bite right there. Right there was a huge pool of Tabasco. I screamed in pain for 10 minutes. My father laughed his ass off. My mother almost killed him. Ever since then, no spicy food.

3. I am afraid of heights. I can climb up a ladder/sttep staircase/big rock, but I start getting nervous near the top and coming down is always a problem for me. I bought Jeff a hot air balloon ride for his birthdayone year, and I did go with him, but I had a death grip on the basket the whole time. You will never see me skydive or bungee jump.

4. I'm a movie person. I don't watch much TV, but I love movies. Especially musicals, comedies and B rated monster/sci-fi/horror flicks from the 50's-70' know...the MST3K kind. I'm the sort of annoying person who quotes lines from movies. Jeff is this way too, and it makes us a lethal team at Taboo. As I am falling asleep at night, I replay movies in my mind and it lulls me into dreamland. We have well over 300 DVD's in our house.

5. I grind my teeth when I sleep. I guess I'm getting better as I get older, but it's so loud that when I was younger I used to wake my Mom up in the next room. I had to wear a (very expensive) custom resin mouth piece to bed for years...and I actually ground so hard that I shattered 3 of them. Jeff has performed experiments on me in the night, and says that if I'm in "grinding mode" it's movement that triggers it- like if he rolls over or one of the cats jumps on the bed.

6. I was on "The Dating Game". Yep, it's true. I was 16. My friends Derek and Loren went in to audition and they listed me on a page of their application as a potential candidate. I auditioned and got on! I was Bachelorette #3...and I won! My date's name was Russ Selwyn and he was from Montana. Not my type, and I don't think I was his either. We went to NY City. Russ took off to go see some relatives on Long Island, and our chaperone, Lisa, gave me her friend's ID and we went club hopping.

Ok, now I have to brutalize 6 more of you out there...hmmmm...




Donna (aka Becca)



Here are the rules:
1) Now you list 6 weird facts about yourself and post them on your blog and in my comments section. Then tag 6 more people.
2) Leave a comment in their comments section telling them they are tagged and to go to your blog.
Have Fun!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Tenley visits with the Easter Bunny!

Friday, April 14, 2006

How To Tye Dye Your Kid

Step 1: Decide that every kid, regardless of age, should get to dye Easter Eggs.
Step 2: Search vainly for "Shake an Egg", give up and just buy the plain old Paas dyes.
Step 3: Wisely decide to only hard boil 6 eggs and use 4 of the 9 colored dye tabs.
Step 4: Place vinyl mat on floor, wish it was bigger. Set bowl of eggs out along with dyes.
Step 5: Strip child to diaper. Briefly consider putting baggies on hands, but realize it will only cause a tantrum. Have Dad get video camera.
Step 6: Place child on mat, get egg dipper, and demonstrate how to dunk eggs.
Step 7: Watch as child throws dipper out of her way, and begins plunking her hands into the dye.
Step 8: Hand child an egg, and encourage her to plunk it into the dye.
Step 9: See the glee in child's eyes as she realizes that a) eggs break when dropped into the dye, and b) that the dye splashes out of the cups.
Step 10: Witness the child's shreiks of joy as she rubs her hands into the spilled dye and begins rubbing it all over her chest.
Step 11: Repeat steps 8-10.
Step 12: Look on in horror as child grabs one of the now broken, half dyed eggs and begins smashing it to bits and googing the yolk through her little blue & purple fingers.
Step 13: Spring into action with Clorox wipes as the multi colored kid takes her show on the road by first kneeling in the spilled purple, and then walking through the teal and running around on the mat and then the white kitchen floor.
Step 14: Call it a holiday and have Daddy dump "Rainbow Bright" in the bath while you begin damage control in the kitchen.
Step 15: Give up after 15 minutes of scrubbing.
Step 16: Admire the 5 remaining poor splotchy, ugly, cracked eggs with love and pride, the way only a Mother looking at her child's first art project can.

Check www. for more egg dying pix and the upcoming holiday!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tub Time Tinging

After days of hearing Grandma Suzie complain about seeing nothing but bashed in cars, Tenley decided to help out by playing some bath time music so we could post about it. Michelle bought Tenley this xylophone that floats in the bath tub. Tenley seems to like anything musical so this was going to be a good toy. Sure enough, Tenley jumped right on that xylophone and started banging out ringing sounds. You can see from the pictures that she is enjoying herself! She didn't seem to like it floating in the tub since she had to chase it around to make music. She much preferred the side of the tub position where she could have maximum xylophone effectiveness.

So, if you are a very, very busy toddler with a new toy that you've been playing with for ten minutes, what do you do next? That's rip it apart. It took Tenley ten seconds to have the metal pieces off and the foam pieces ripped apart and started banging other things with the mallets. It took even less time for Beeps (our youngest cat) to take off with one of the foam pieces and start chewing it up. Oh well, so much for new toys! Luckily the xylophone goes back together and Tenley can make music another day in another bath!

Beware of Vaccuums

Tenley has long been a participant in the toddler game of "What Common Household Object Am I Afraid of Today?" Her favorite object to be wary of is the Vaccuum Cleaner. She cries everytime we run it. We either have to hide her in the other room and distract her while we vaccuum or take her somewhere else entirely.

In an effort to make her less afraid and try to embrace the fabulous device known as the vaccuum, we purchased her a vaccuum of her own. It has eyes and a smiling mouth and talks to her while she pushes it around. It makes all the appropriate vaccuum sounds and Tenley seems to like it very much. Just look how nicely she cleaned the room up. Doesn't even look like our place anymore. We hope that this new toy will usher in a new era of mutual acceptance between Tenley and the vaccuum. Only time will tell us the answer.