Category Archives: Entertainment can be Cheap

Theme Park Christmas, Sea World Style

As usual, we are on a quest to visit as many theme parks during December as possible. At the risk of not decorating our house … uh, wait, Tony put it on our calendar for the morning of 12/12. Our neighbors put up outside lights the day after Thanksgiving, and I noticed Tony digging stuff out of the attic late one night this past week and the next morning, there was a small showing of Christmas decorations outside our house.  Likely related, yes?

I’m actually OK with keeping things smaller this year. It seems like every year electricity gets more expensive and I feel more grinch-like when it comes time to pay that particular bill and threaten to put our blow-ups on a hanger instead of blowing them up, because those things are cute when they’re up, at night, but they spend most of the day in a deflated pancake state, which is just sad for the exorbitant prices of purchase and blowing. (And why does all that sound like an awful euphemism?)

Now there’s an invention for someone to make… a hanger for blow-up decorations! I envision it being something like a foldaway shepherd’s hook with arms or something. I don’t know, I’m not an inventor, YOU ARE!

ANYWAY, theme parks. Yes, back to that. This past weekend, we went to Sea World and celebrated my mom’s birthday there with her. Their Santa was actually decent this year and we were able to get some good pictures! We love their Pets Rule show, and particularly the cat portion of the show (I know, big surprise there!). I wish we could train our cats to do some of those tricks, seems the only trick we can get them to do consistently is to actually poop in their litter box. If only we could teach them to barf in their litter box or even on the tile entryway would be OK, instead of on the rug (soft surface and all that).

We intended to stay for the tree lighting ceremony, which is the BEST tree lighting ceremony I’ve ever seen. Just the right amount of time and lots of audience participation. Then, in a feat of Tony’s stubbornness persistence we decided to wait the two hours to see Santa again (we had seen him at breakfast, but this time it was in his cottage), because they had pagers instead of a long line. Santa visits have gone high tech! While we waited, we could go visit the reindeer (caribou) and William wanted to serenade them in a failed attempt to have them come over so he could pet them. But he had a great time singing them Christmas carols! And, we were allowed to sit in Santa’s sleigh for a photo op.

It was an all-around good day!

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Southwest Update

About a week after I sent my letter off to Southwest, I received a phone call from a customer service agent at their Dallas location. I missed her call, so I called back. The agent I spoke to reviewed the notes and, it actually wasn’t clear to me whether she had my letters in front of her or not. I was kind of led to believe that she didn’t, just a summary of them that someone had input into the computer.

So, I dragged her through the details of our experience.

My experience with their customer service team was far, far better than my experience with the gate agents and the gate agent supervisors. She said she would alert their legal team concerning the breastfeeding experience and the ambiguity of what their website says.

She also offered us vouchers for future travel to cover the cost of our airfare, plus a little extra. There was no monetary reimbursement offered for the rental car. She said they are unable to issue monetary compensation. So, I assume the bit extra is intended to compensate for car and the food we needed while we were held hostage in Las Vegas.  The vouchers finally showed up in my email account just yesterday… and there’s still one voucher that is pending approval.

Since a little time has passed now and with the vouchers offered, I’m OK now. Sadly, I no longer have the naive love for Southwest Airlines that I once had. They’ll have to do better in the future for me to gain respect for them again. Guess they’ll have an opportunity to do so within the next year, since the vouchers expire next October.

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Back Yard Fairy Garden

We’ve been spending a lot of time in our tiny back yard working on our fairy garden. I’ve been refreshing and repainting my long-time fairy residents (some of which are over 12 years old), and adding some new things, too. It’s so earthy and fulfilling to work with dirt, and with the addition of the fairy accessories, adds a little bit of magic, as well.

We have a farm/cottage (in a vintage wheelbarrow), a bird sanctuary (in a pot), a gardening area (in a pot), a playground and water fountain area (in a vintage wheelbarrow), and a treehouse garden (in another pot). My long time dragon resident has suddenly found himself guarding not only my sweet violet plant, but a treasure chest, too. My long time unicorn is lazily keeping watch over it all. I keep coming up with other ideas, so I expect more of my plants will be sporting “fairy” additions, too.

I’m collecting feathers for our bird sanctuary… anyone have any feathers you want to send my way?? ha

Yesterday, we spent the morning in the back yard together, I was working on making a miniature tree swing. I found a piece of scrap wood and grabbed my drill gun (safely tying my hair back so it didn’t get stuck in the motor) and drilled two tiny holes in the aged branch of my rosemary plant… a plant that I’m patiently waiting for it to come back to life. Let me tell you, rosemary wood is super hard to drill through! I then went over to my “new” vintage wheelbarrow (that I’m currently setting up) and drilled a couple holes in it for drainage.

When I was done, I set the drill aside and started threading the plant wire through the holes to hang the tree swing. I heard William talking to himself, and I turned to look at him. He had picked up my drill and was carrying it away. I came alongside him and asked him, “What do you need the drill for?” He bent down to pick up one of several leaves he had collected, apparently waiting for me to get done with my drill so he could use it and said, “I need to drill a hole in my leaf.” So we set his leaf down and, holding his hand and guiding the drill, “we” proceeded to “drill” a hole in it. Several other leaves needed holes, too, apparently.

I have plans to make a teeter totter and some monkey bars to the playground of our fairy garden. As well as a pool, and maybe a beach/sand area. Oh, and William loves the tiny swing I made. He even helped the fairy dog up so he could swing on it.

It really is something we’re doing together… William loves playing with the little fairy animals and was beyond thrilled when he came out one morning and saw the little house set up, with a wishing well… he said, “It’s a little town!” Tony has been an immense help, bringing home to two vintage wheelbarrows and drilling holes in awkward places, and giving his opinions on various things. I love that this has become a family project… and that we’re just enjoying the process of creating it together.

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Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, I have Family, Our Kid is Cute

Tustin Chili Cook Off

Over the weekend, we spontaneously decided to go to the Chili Cook Off.  I mean, we were right across the street having breakfast and one of our table mates mentioned it.  Tony and I looked at each other, shrugged and said, “You wanna go?”  The reply was, “Sure, why not?”  It’s something we’ve talked about attending the past few years but we never seem to be in town when it’s going on.

We meandered around at first, distracted by the old cars.  William kept saying “Hey, that’s Sheriff!  That’s Sheriff!”  (From the Cars movie?)  Yeah, except for the paint job, it IS Sheriff.

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And then there was the “car that looks like Flo!”  Yes, yes, it did.  Something tells me this kid likes cars.

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Then we got down to business and sampled several cups of chili that looked like this.

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We all really liked the one made by the police department.  It was spicy but went down smooth.  If they sold that stuff in jars, I would definitely buy some.

William has a thing about Weinerschnitzel… THANKS MOM!  He now requests to go get “ice cream” every time we drive by it, which is  a lot, since it’s on the way to the grocery store, Walmart, Target, the gas station, the gym, and uh, the freeway.  Meaning, it’s on the way to everywhere we go.  So it was a no-brainer that he asked to have his picture taken with their Wagon that was at the cook off.

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We were looking for somewhere to sit and there were some tables set up.  We meandered over and sat on the concrete wall around the sign, turns out the restaurant owner had set up the tables and were inviting people to sit there, whether they were patrons or not.  The owner was even sitting there and pointed at the sign above William, told us the pictures on there were of his parents.  Personally, I liked the way the guy organized his chili.  He said, with a wink, that he’s been doing this for a few years now.

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IMG_0989Overall, for a spontaneous outing, it was fun and I wouldn’t mind going again next year, but I’ll definitely be bringing my cupcake pans… that idea is ingenious!  Plus, you know, people watching… IMG_0982

 

 

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Mountain Weekend.

The quiet and peacefulness of the mountains is one of the biggest draws for us… even with a 2 year old in tow. It helps that William requests to “go to Big Bear” and seemingly gets more excited about going up there than we do. We also enjoy our Saturday morning breakfast restaurant, the people there are like visiting family. Sometimes I can hardly sleep the night before, just because I know we’re gonna get to see our friends there. We enjoy our routines, what can I say?

Never before, in all the 40-some years that Tony’s family has owned the property, built the cabin, have they experienced such a weird thing as we did this weekend.

We drove up Friday morning and spent the afternoon settling in. William had some trouble sleeping that night, so it was that around 2 AM Saturday, Tony was sleeping lightly and heard a car door slam out front.  He thought it was the neighbors across the street, since they had rented the place out for the weekend.  We were surprised then, to look out our window Saturday morning to find a strange vehicle parked within 5 feet of our front door, directly under the window of the room where we’d been sleeping. Thinking it belonged to the neighbors to the left of us (a rental cabin), we knocked on their door and windows, but no one was there. We checked with the neighbor to the right, and he didn’t recognize it. I suggested that perhaps it was a stolen vehicle, and so Tony called the police. They said it hadn’t been reported stolen. Since it was early yet, and we really didn’t want to pay to have the thing towed, we decided to let a little time pass and go to breakfast.   Plus, you know, priorities.  Food vs. intruding car?  Food wins every time.

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breakfast pic

Five hours later, we returned to our cabin. The vehicle was gone, and in its place was a Sheriff’s car. The officer was dusting items on our porch for fingerprints. He said the vehicle had indeed been stolen, and the items he was dusting had been inside the car and not belonged to the owner. According to the Sheriff, there have been a bunch of break-ins and car thefts in that area the last month or so. Turns out, the car’s owner lived just a couple streets down. She had trustingly left her car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, thinking it safe within her gated yard. She didn’t even know her car was gone. Her sister drove by and recognized the car!

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Then, driving home Sunday morning, we had grabbed some food at Carl’s Jr., eating our food, we got back on the road.  Tony had been staying with the flow of traffic while he ate, and just finished his burger. I was alarmed when he said we were being pulled over by a motorcycle cop. We truly wondered why?  Talk about making your food turn into a brick in your stomach! We made our way off the freeway into a deserted bank parking lot.  I suggested that Tony roll down William’s window, too, so he could see the officer and maybe the officer would let us off because our kid is cute. What? It can’t hurt, right? Ha. The officer claimed we had been speeding in a construction zone on the freeway.

Apparently, even if it’s a Sunday and there’s no active construction going on, and we were being passed by other cars, it’s still a construction zone and can be used as a speed trap. The officer collected the information:  license, registration, proof of insurance, said he’d be back in a couple minutes.  A few minutes passed, the officer returned, handed all the stuff back to Tony and said, “I’ve received another call and have to go. Please drive safely and watch your speed.” Knowing firsthand, and recently, that speeding tickets are around $300, double that for construction zone, plus traffic school, all I could think was, we were just spared spending $700.

But, you know, despite the couple of strange things happening, we said hi to “Baby” the donkey, we saw snow (a tiny bit in front of our cabin and way far off on the mountains), we had our breakfast and saw our friends, we laughed and relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company. William got a tour of a fire truck, a tour of a sheriff’s car and visited a playground. What more could we have asked for from a weekend in the mountains?

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Mother and Son Date.

I made the decision to let my Disneyland pass expire this year… the end date is 2/9.  Most people agree that it’s just incredibly expensive.  There’s also the consideration that in a year or so, I think William will enjoy it more and I won’t have to rush home for his nap… so we’ll have a little more freedom with our time.  Plus, budgetwise, I do have that speeding ticket to pay to the tune of $292. Ugh.

As a last hurrah, we went last Sunday. Just me and William, as Tony let his pass lapse last year.  I decided that William would enjoy California Adventure Land more than the Disneyland side, because that’s where his buddies, Lightning and Mater live.  Also, the tractor ride!

As we left the park, I grabbed a chocolate filled croissant for myself.  I was nibbling on it on the drive home and William asked for some. The piece I gave him had the tiniest, minuscule bit of chocolate in it, and he said, “Mmmmm, that’s a little bit of chocolate right there!” And then proceeded to suck and savor that tiny bit of chocolate for about 5 minutes, leaving the croissant as a soggy mess all over his lips.  So intense!!

I raised an eyebrow at this… I have never given him chocolate before and normally avoid eating it in front of him.  So this begs the question of HOW DID HE KNOW???

 

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A Birthday, Mine.

This past weekend, on the 1st, we celebrated my 43rd birthday.   Tony, bless him, gave me the greatest gift any man can give a woman who is the mother of a toddler… the gift of a nap.  The gift of a nap when said toddler failed at taking his, by taking the toddler away and on a drive that then turned into a car nap for the toddler.

Not to be outdone by that gift, he also took me to our mountain cabin for a couple days.  Where we did our usual tour of our favorite breakfast place where I was serenaded with the Happy Birthday song by a fellow there singing, a surprise was that, I’ve never seen anyone there singing before, so that was a perk.

We also visited the candy store in town, where I bought my favorite candy there…  a dark chocolate caramel apple, a dark chocolate covered pretzel stick and a dark chocolate peanut butter cup.  Tony then bought us ice cream.  Never mind that there was smatterings of snow and ice in town, residuals of the storm that had moved through there earlier in the week.  Ice cream doesn’t need warm weather to taste good.

Then there was the birthday cheesecake and sparkly numbers atop it.  Well, more like birthday cheesecakes, and since it was my birthday, I sampled each and every one of them… and, being in a generous mood, I let Tony sample them, too.  They were delicious, indeed.

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Finally, there was the moment as we drove down the mountain, our time there enjoyed immensely… and we held hands, as we drove we entered what I call our magical forest.  When it snows and the trees are heavy with it, the light sparkles it turning it to frozen diamonds.  It looks like something out of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  It was there several years ago that it was where I realized that the love Tony and I had for each other was too much, and that we needed a child to hold some of the love… and wasn’t that a good idea to start a family with?  Too much love?  And this time, as we drove, our child chattered at us from his seat in the rear seat, happy and content, smiling and singing and yelling, ” Boo!  Mommy and Daddy, boo!!”

P1160426For as much as a child’s birthdays marks the years passing like mile markers on a freeway, so does my birthday mark the passing of time of my happiness in the family we’ve made.  There is no gift in the world that I want, for I have all I could have ever dreamed… and more.

I am so very, very blessed in this, my 43rd year of life.  Happy Birthday to me.

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