Category Archives: I did something Special

Awana Club, 2nd week

After last week’s post, I thought I should post an update about how the second week went. I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes this past week, but things were much different and more organized this week.

To start, they did introductions and roll call. Then the teachers did a puppet show with the characters that were in the student’s pamphlet.

Then they were assigned a craft and were given a tiny tub of Playdoh, to “make something that God created.” William started with a footprint, then it morphed into a burrito, then bacon, then a taco, then an egg, finally a potato, then back into an egg. At least that’s what William said, and then in the middle of it all, he exclaimed, “Phew! This is hard work!”

Then they did a Bible story, although I’m not really certain which Bible story it was, but the verse they concluded with was 1 John 4:10, sort of> It was more like a partial verse, “God loved us and sent his son…” and that was also their memorization assignment for last week. Not too hard, considering that some of these kids (William included) can quote entire scenes of movies and complete stanzas of songs. A seven word Bible verse is definitely doable.

After that, they had snack time… and William volunteered to say the prayer! I was impressed! So, snacks last night? Cheddar Penguin crackers and chewy fruit snacks. I wasn’t overly thrilled with that, but ended up being grateful. Why? Because I had spied several bags of Fritos in the lead teacher’s equipment bin, so that momentary fear that I was going to have a child whose breath smelled like dog feet changed my perspective!

Then they had play time in the tots playground. William wanted to go into the playground for bigger kids, but the instructor told him he couldn’t, the gate was locked. He peered through and said, “Well, there’s a gap in the fence, so you just open up the gate and I’ll go around, then.” He didn’t get to, but I have to admire his problem solving skills.

The one thing I’m not happy about is that when the Cubbies arrive, they are supposed to be taken directly to the room. They don’t get to play on the playground before hand and they don’t get to participate in the opening flag ceremony or Pledge of Allegiances. I was informed that it was a mistake that they were included last week. I asked the pastor why that was, and he said he didn’t know. I emailed them about it this morning.

Personally, I think it shows a stand of unity as a greater group. It also allows the little ones to see that there are older groups (Sparks, etc.) to aspire to as they grow older and they shouldn’t be isolated just because they’re little. I believe that they are never too young to learn the pledge of allegiances. And, finally, it’s a nice routine to start the evening.


Filed under I did something Special, Who I am

Awana Club

Last night was William’s first Awana Club meeting. Awana Club was something that my brother and I did when we were kids, we pretty much grew up in Awana Clubs, attending every week, and earned our trophies. I loved the meetings… the games, playing with other kids, even the Bible memorization. It was just so much fun. I hope William ends up liking it as much as I did.

My mom, being experienced in teaching, mentioned to me that as it was the first night it might be a little disorganized. I was glad later that she had mentioned that, because it helped prepare me for the state of disaster that it actually turned out to be. To start, the room was locked. It then progressed to the leader trying to give parents an orientation while 10 kids (ages 3-4) sat at a table with nothing to do. When that didn’t work, the leader gave them their book bags to paint, except the paint markers still had the plastic wrapping on AND the internal stopper. Confusion reigned, and most of the kids had paint all over their hands, so they had to wash them (10 little kids to one tiny sink). They finally went out to the tot playground while the leader “prepared” a snack of half a hot dog/bun and Cheetos (of all things, really?), but she didn’t have plates, cups or a knife to cut things in half. Then the kids had to come in from the playground (but line up first!) and wash their hands again (10 little kids to one tiny sink). And that was it. As William pointed out when we got to the car, “We didn’t get to hear a Bible verse or read a Bible story… or play a game.” Yeah. Kind of the foundation for the whole thing, that Bible verse.

When I saw the issues they were having, I tried to help where I could and quietly made suggestions to the leader, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. So much of the stuff actually needed far more advance planning, i think. Maybe even making one of the crafts ahead of time to troubleshoot problems and then to use as an example for the kids. Awana Club is such a great resource; I pray that next week, and the weeks to come improve.

The quote of the night from William. After he’d finished painting his bag and declaring repeatedly and emphatically, “I’m done!” one of the helpers took his bag. He watched her with great concern, and seeing his concern, she explained to him, “I’m taking this outside for some air.” He replied, “Well, there’s air in here. That’s how you’re breathing.”

Yeah, air, kind of one of the most important parts of breathing.


Filed under I did something Special, Our Kid is Cute

More About Last Month’s Vacation.

In a previous post, I shared one of the funny moments that happened late in our vacation while it was still fresh in my mind. I also shared some tidbits of things we did while on vacation in William’s monthly post. I wanted to share an overview of all the things we did.

Our airline experiences this time were much better and on par with what I expect from Southwest Airlines. We managed to rack up $400 a person in complimentary vouchers from Southwest for the shoddy way they treated us last October, and those vouchers mostly funded our trip to San Francisco the end of May and our trip back to Nebraska. Sadly, since they did so well, that is the end of our free ride. Thank you, Southwest Airlines!

We stayed with my dear Aunt Marjorie (paternal side) for a few days while we visited the Omaha Zoo and Lauritzen Gardens again. We had visited those places last October, but our gardens visit got cut short due to a fast moving rainstorm. They have a model train garden that is quite amazing to watch, it’s so detailed! So we visited that again, and also walked up to see the two real-size, huge, famous engines they have on display.


We were well pleased with our visit to the zoo last time, except they had ended the season of camel rides and their train wasn’t running the day we went. This trip it was overwhelmingly hot and humid. While the weather wasn’t necessarily a surprise, it was challenging for me (us?) because we’re used to California’s weather. Sadly, I wilted quicker than I expected in the heat. While at the zoo, We managed to meet up with some friends, a lady I know from an online Facebook group (and her family). Fortunately, they were willing companions for our agenda and didn’t protest when we suggested going and getting lunch. She had her two boys with her, the older of them shares a birthday with William. William LOVED meeting him and I loved hanging out with her. Tony pretty much gets along with anyone, and her husband was great to converse with. So, we kind of went to get some lunch and then just never stood back up again until it was time to leave.


The timing of our trip was stipulated by a family gathering that happens annually the last Sunday of July in Albion, Nebraska. So, we did a road trip from Omaha to the middle of Nebraska, a two hour drive made longer by construction and ill-timed traffic lights on a timer in the middle of nowhere.

My uncle (maternal side) graciously hosted us in their basement, which was blissfully cool and mostly comfortable. They are gracious hosts and very accommodating to quirky travelers. I highly recommend them. I just love staying with them on their farm. They have animals galore… cats and kittens(!!), dogs, horses and ponies, goats, guineafowl, cows, and… I’m sure I’m missing naming a species here. Also, my cousin has two girls and William just loved playing with them!



The drive to the family gathering was mostly on dirt roads, which William thought was fabulous thanks to the off-roading scenes in the Cars movie. It was made more entertaining for me by texting with my cousin, who was in the vehicle in front of us. She acted like a tour guide with such things like, “This is corn fields on your right and soybeans to your left. Upcoming to your right is a house where no one famous lives.” She would switch the types of fields appropriately. As we drove, we passed a farm that had a bunch of old buildings on it. There were a couple of churches, a sheriff building, and other things. It looked like a little Western town. I later learned from my uncle that the owner of that farm had a vision of building a little town, but he passed away and now his family doesn’t know what to do with the buildings. I guess his vision isn’t theirs.

At the family gathering, the couple who hosted it are 2nd or 3rd cousins, once removed, to me, I think. I’m not really sure. Anyway, they have grandkids around William’s age, and while the kids weren’t in attendance, their toys were. William and my cousin’s girls had a fabulous time playing down in their basement. They have a pool table down there and William loved putting the balls in the holes and then listening to them rumble to the end. Best kid entertainment ever! I enjoyed seeing one of my cousins who I haven’t seen since he was 6 or 7 years old, and meeting his wife. There were also other distant relatives there and it was just an enjoyable relaxing time. The food was set up buffet style, entrees on one side of the kitchen island and various “salads” (the notion of salad is very different in the Midwest vs. California) on the other side. Also, desserts.

The days went quickly (surely a sign of a good vacation?) and before we knew it, we were headed back to Omaha to stay with my Aunt Marjorie one last night and catch our flight the next morning. Now… where do we go next?

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Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Queen Mary Chill

Backing out of the garage this morning, I went through the list… “Do we have our coats?  The stroller?  Water?  Snacks?”  Yes!  So, we’re halfway down the hill and I notice sprinkles on the windshield… “Do we have umbrellas in the car?”  Uhhh, no.  This is California.  It doesn’t rain here!

Yet, all the way, as we drove to Long Beach, there was definitely rain on the windshield.  And, even if you try to deny it, say, by not using your windshield wipers, it is still rain!

We arrived at the Queen Mary early, like at 9:10 AM (they opened at 10:00 AM), and we wandered around for a little while and then headed over to wait in line to get into the Village.  William was anxious with anticipation to get in, so I handed him my watch to keep an eye on it for the last 10 minutes.  He told us he’d let us know when it was 10 o’clock.  I was surprised when they actually opened the gates about 3 minutes early… thank goodness.


We hustled past the Christmas decorations and bouncy houses so we could be the first in line for the ice sculptures.  When we did this event a couple years ago (link), the line was really long to get into the ice sculptures and the workers were really grumpy (to be fair, it was the end of the day).  This year, I even went down the ice slide and that was really fun!  Overall, this was a far better experience than last time, although, sadly, there were far fewer ice sculptures this year.


Admission to their Chill event included their village (that they decorate for each holiday) (that we had bypassed in our rush to the ice sculptures), and they had a couple bouncy houses (one that was shaped like the Queen Mary… it had a super weird entrance that kind of gave you the feeling like you were being rebirthed haha) and the other was a candy cane obstacle bouncer.  William was disappointed that neither of them had anything to climb.


They also had a wave swing ride that came from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.  I kind of wanted to go on it, but I knew if I did that William would want to go on it, and we just weren’t confident that he would have been OK with it.  William said he wanted to, and he said he’d be fine all by himself and I think he would have been fine, but Tony said the ride looked scary and he didn’t want to be “those parents” with the freaking out kid.  Sometimes it sucks to be responsible parents.  (sigh)


We self-toured ourselves through the Queen Mary, walked to the bow and then went up top and splashed in puddles.  We headed back to the Chill event to find some lunch, because I’m far too cheap to spend $20 on a mere sandwich just to say we ate on board the Queen Mary.  So we had a huge chicken skewer in the village with a view of the Queen Mary and rain pouring down on our heads.  Because I was in denial at that point, because my iPhone told me it wasn’t raining.


Overall, it was a good event… however, next year, if we do it again, I hope they will have more ice sculptures, like they did when we went in 2012.  Although, even with the ones they had, it was impressive.  I think I’d like to try to go during the month of December, because in January, there were no performances, no carolers and no Santa.

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Link to more pictures, so you can feel like you went with us can be found here:  LINK


Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, Our Kid is Cute


I had lunch with a vendor today. He found out a couple months ago that my birthday is this weekend, and he sent a meeting invite for lunch today. I accepted it and figured I’d get out of it with an excuse a couple weeks before (given my weird social anxieties), except a legitimate excuse never presented itself and Tony encouraged me to go.

I’ve known this guy in a professional capacity since I started at this job in March of 2010, so 4 1/2 years now, and we’ve never gone to lunch.

I chose Corner Bakery, since it’s one of my favorite places and I am obsessed with love their iced tea … it was loud, as most of them are, and I wondered to myself how the cashier was even able to hear our orders. He decided to order dessert, and ordered their pumpkin poundcake. When she came up with the dessert, she had the lemon poundcake instead. He looked at me and told me he thought he’d ordered the pumpkin. I replied to him that he had, but she likely misheard because it was so loud.

When he mentioned it to her, she got really flustered and apologetic. (I assume if she had gotten the correct thing, the wrong thing would have had to be thrown away.) He shrugged and told her, “No problem, the lemon sounds good, too, don’t even worry about it.” She was still apologizing to him as she rang up the order, he said, “You know, if it’s not too late, would you mind adding the pumpkin, too? I’ll just take it to my kids.” He smiled and she smiled in return and everything was instantly smoothed over.

I watched the interaction and was struck by how gracious that was for him to do. Not everyone would think to do that, truthfully, I might not even had thought to do it. I’m also not sure if it was an intentional or an intuitive act on his part, or whether that even matters… it was a kindness.

Oh, and he also got two desserts. :D


Filed under I did something Special

Travel Escapades, Part 3

Between travel escapades part 1 and 2 lived the peanut butter and jelly part of the trip. The good stuff between the bookends. The seeing of people we love. The visiting. The time spent with family. The memories made. The laughter. The exploring of new places.

Because of the mess on the flight out, we lost a half day of time that I had planned to spend with family that Saturday. My aunt had made a special dinner, which she put away for another day when we let her know we wouldn’t be there. Normally early to bed, early to rise, I was grateful that my aunt & uncle were still up (watching football) when we finally did get there at 11:30 PM. I was also grateful that we miraculously did manage to get a decent night’s sleep. Side note about sleep and traveling with William: I’ve learned that it’s better for everyone if I just sleep in the same bed as William when we’re traveling, especially for that first night, I just go to bed when I put him to bed. If I don’t, then he wakes up repeatedly crying (different house, different bed, it makes sense) and then I spend far too much time calming him down and getting him back to sleep, only to have it repeat again in an hour. If I go to bed with him, he’ll wake up, but will reach out a hand, find me and go right back to sleep on his own with no problems.

Sunday my aunt had her family over, so William got to play with my cousin’s grandchildren, and I got to visit with the grown-ups, people that I always enjoy spending time with when we visit there. I especially enjoy the quiet moments of conversation that I have with my aunt, and it always seems like they’re too few and too short, because those conversations always seem to happen late at night when we both need to be asleep. Those late night conversations are also the reason I like to stay in her home, instead of a hotel. For some reason, one loses those vulnerable visits with family if you’re staying in a hotel. Thankfully, my aunt loves me enough to put us up.

My aunt also passed on some family heirlooms — a child’s rocking chair made by William’s g-g-g-grandfather in 1868, and a handmade quilt that we believe to have been made by William’s g-g-grandma. Getting those items home were a bit of a feat, a worthy feat, to be sure. We bought a sturdy box and bubble wrapped it, but the measurements were too big for “free” check in with Southwest. We priced out other options and ultimately decided to customize the box so it fit within Southwest’s dimensions… and, we are so very grateful that despite all the things Southwest screwed up, they did get those two items home for us without damaging them.

On Monday, we went to the Omaha Zoo, which is rated to be in the top 10 zoos of the United States. After having visited it, I can see why. While large, it is really well laid out, so a lot of ground can be covered in a minimum of time. We visited the big cats first, then meandered over and took the tram and the skyride. After which we went to the playground, where William played with the peacocks. Then we went through the gorilla exhibit, their desert dome and their aquarium. It was definitely a full day and we really enjoyed ourselves. Upon leaving, William informed me that, “I’m going to cry about leaving the zoo.” So, I guess it’s safe to say he had a great time. The Omaha Zoo offered half price tickets to us as a reciprocal program to members of the Santa Ana Zoo. So glad I read about that on the zoo’s website!

On Tuesday, we went to the Lauritzen Gardens. I love botanical gardens (remember my visit to the botanical gardens in Oklahoma City in 2004 or the ones in Hawaii?) and these were just stunning. Upon arrival, we took the tram tour, and then went and had lunch at the cafe (which closed at 2pm). The food at the cafe was amazing! After lunch, we walked back to see their miniature model train garden, which was actually one of the primary reasons for visiting there. The structural elements of the tracks are handmade, even the bridges, from twigs and branches, etc. There are six trains that run, three above and three below, as well as a cable car that goes back and forth. Sadly, it started POURING rain about 20 minutes after we started to look at it. They shut the trains down when it rains to preserve them, so we left. If I had known that it was going to rain and that we would be leaving so quickly, given that’s what we were there for, I would have made that garden our priority and gone there first.

That evening, we had dinner in Old Town Omaha at a place called Spaghetti works with my uncle Paul, his wife and their daughter. Their son wasn’t able to make it, sadly. I haven’t seen those two cousins since they were small, maybe about William’s age. It was kind of neat to see her all grown up and to see my uncle play with my son’s Hot Wheels with him across the dinner table. It was a good evening.

On Wednesday, we went to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, and then visited the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. It was an interesting walk-through and able to get through it within an hour or so. That evening we went back to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge to let William run some steam off, and also to replicate a picture we took when he was 11 months old.

Tony came down with a cold on Tuesday, so he was feeling under the weather. We delayed our departure to my uncle’s farm on Thursday, allowing Tony a little more time to rest. I had hoped to be out there by lunch time, and felt badly that we weren’t given that she had prepared lunch for us. Instead we made it there in time for dinner, which was all homegrown — steak fillets from a steer they grew, tomatoes, potatoes and ears of corn from their garden. It was kind of startling to realize, that with a little effort and land, a family actually can be self sufficient in this day and age.

Friday, we spent visiting and playing outside. William played on their swing/slide combo in their yard, played with the litter of kittens who were exploring their home in the woodpile. He also “helped” carve some pumpkins with my cousin’s 2 girls. We went to my cousin’s house after dinner to check out her goats, calf, bunnies, dogs, cats, hens, and a pony.

Our day ended too quickly, despite extending it the best we could with a late bedtime. We were up early Saturday morning to make the drive back into Omaha to presumably catch our flight home. All the stress involved with loading the car and sadness of saying goodbyes.

Pictures can be found here: LINK


Filed under I did something Special, I have Family, I Stimulate the Economy

Nine Years.

What a journey, what a story. Yet, oddly, it doesn’t seem like we’ve been married for nine years. Of course, when I think of all the things we’ve done together, all the things we’ve faced, worked through, laughed about, and even conquered together, there’s no way we could have fit it into anything less than nine years. I guess it’s a good thing we have so much fun together, because time just seems to fly.

(Warning, picture heavy post ahead!)

For our anniversary, we went to the mountains… back to where Tony proposed to me… back to where we got married. Remember that? LINK We did our “wedding aisle” hike, I don’t know if you remember, but there is a bit of rock climbing at the end that. Despite having done this hike a few times in the last couple years, we’ve never felt comfortable completing the rock climbing part with William. We decided to try it this time, though, with William on me in the Tula.

Tony wore William in the Tula carrier on the way up. I wore him for the rock climbing portion, since the crevices were narrow. Tony went ahead of me and made suggestions on hand and foot holds, and William encouraged me with, “You’re doing good, mommy. You’re almost there! Keep going! You got this!” When I finally did the final jump across the rocks, William said, “You did it! Yay Mommy!”

The views were resplendent as ever, and we even had a visit from a chipmunk. We took a different trail down and it was a lot steeper. Since I wear William down the mountain (going down speedily is my strength ha), let’s just say we won’t be taking that trail again… my thighs are still feeling the burn 4 days later.

Highlights included, eating at our favorite restaurant, visiting our favorite candy shop, visiting their little zoo and going on a bicycle ride that was shortened by a flat tire, thankfully not too far from our cabin.

We also celebrated Tony’s birthday while we were up there. So, happy birthday and happy anniversary to my love. Still the same man I grew to love, only he seems to be even more kind, thoughtful and hilarious to hang out with than he was when I married him. That’s a good thing.

Next year, to celebrate a decade of wedded bliss, we’re thinking of doing a road trip with the goal of seeing Mt. Rushmore. Not sure how long that will take, or what else we’ll want to see, but I figure if anything can challenge a marriage, a road trip ought to do it. Thank the heavens above that we have GPS, because my map reading skills suck!


Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, Our Kid is Cute