Category Archives: Entertainment can be Cheap

October Time.

This weekend we went to the local farm where they grow seasonal items (Christmas trees, pumpkins, watermelons, etc.) as well as garden variety types of plants (kale, lettuces, carrots, etc.).  They have tractor pulled wagon rides, a corn maze, a hay bale maze, a pumpkin shootin’ cannon, as well as a petting zoo (lots of goats and sheep, as well as an imu or two).  Usually it’s a dusty and dirty affair, and no matter how cold it is, it somehow always manages to feel about 10° hotter than it really is, and there’s always lots of people there and photobombs are pretty much guaranteed.  They claim all the pumpkins are organically grown on site, and there are boxes and piles of pumpkins, as well as the ones still attached to the vines.  We were there for the experience, not to buy — we grew our own pumpkin this year at Tony’s parent’s house.

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Since a pumpkin farm just isn’t enough pumpkin viewing for us, Sunday evening we headed out to the Orange County Great Park to see the “pumpkin” in the sky!  They were sold out of tickets for the ride, but the carousel was there and William really, really, really liked riding on that. Unlike Tony, who turned an interesting shade of green after the first round on it.

So, William first rode the “Biggest Horsey” then the Zebra!! and then the Ostrich.  I was trying to pick the most unique of the animals to ride, and so I built up the excitement about riding the Ostrich.  The Ostrich, William!  Can you imagine!!  An Ostrich!  By the time the ride stopped, he was leaning off the Zebra and ready to go see this mystical and amazing creature, the Ostrich!  His legs were stiff with excitement, his smile wide as can be.  We got there, he took one look at it and said in a no-nonsense tone of voice, “It’s a duck.”  No amount of persuasion tactics could change his mind.

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In his eyes, the thing was clearly a duck and, while he enjoyed it, he really would have rather ridden on the “Scary Cat!”  Unfortunately, we closed the carousel party, and all the animals had to go to bed, so he only got to pet the scary cat as we exited the ride.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I have Friends, Our Kid is Cute

Summer Nights.

The days are getting hotter and the heat is lasting into the evenings and nights, and summer has only begun. I complain every year about how this house of ours seems to retain the heat and there doesn’t seem to be any relief. So we drive off in the morning to our respective jobs and dwell in air conditioned offices by day, and return to our sweltering home by night. Air conditioning doesn’t seem to help the upstairs rooms, and William’s room seems to hold onto the heat most of all.

We’ve discussed a portable air conditioning unit for his room, but there’s nowhere to run the venting… we have shutters on the inside of the window. We talked about a portable evaporative cooler, but we’re not sure that would be effective, because we don’t really have the driest of climates here. We’ve discussed adding an attic fan, or whole house fan… if we do that, we also need to add vents under the eaves of our roof. We’ve discussed adding a second vent to William’s room, because the vent in his room is so ineffective. I’ve thought about a vent booster, but the reviews are mixed. I’ve even thought about switching his room to the guest room and making the guest room his room, but that really wouldn’t solve the issue as the guest room gets hot, too, just not AS hot. We’re now looking into an in-line air duct booster. We run the A/C and the downstairs cools to 71°F, but his room never gets below 80°F. It’s ridiculous. We still haven’t come to a decision, and the days continue to get hotter.

So, in the evenings, since it’s cooler outside than inside, we take ourselves outside. We eat dinner on the patio, and listen to the birds chattering from their home in the enormous bougainvillea plant in the cul-de-sac behind our home. The neighborhood dogs bark in the distance relaying their important messages to each other. We joke with our neighbor when he comes outside into his backyard. The new fencing our association put in is taller than the previous fencing, so we can’t see him, which adds an extra funny element to our conversations.

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We find ourselves going on bike rides. The shadows slant long through the Eucalyptus trees and dust from the bike trail swirls up as we ride along. We nod or smile at the others who are going the other way on the trail.

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We take ourselves to the beach for some sand and water play.
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And we welcome summertime. Because, really, what else can you do?

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

Weekends are the Best.

There really isn’t much more to add to that title, except that it seems that weekends just keep getting sweeter and sweeter as the days go by.  This past weekend, we had been planning to go out of town but I canceled at the last minute just because I was feeling a little overwhelmed by life.  So, we stayed home.  I’m glad we did, because while it would have been fun to get away, but there’s so much preparation and strategy involved.

We stayed close to home, instead, and visited the Irvine Spectrum.  They have a ferris wheel and a train that we’ve been meaning to ride.  We also visited the splash pad, and having our own kid was great, because we didn’t look like a couple of creepsters.

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After a meal at Ruby’s Diner… holding his tummy.

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The next day, I spent some time out in our back yard cleaning up my plants, getting rid of some of the pots that have rotted from sun exposure, rescuing and repotting some plants, trimming back others, pulling weeds (who knew that potted plants get weeds, too).  Sometimes I just have to stand there, turn around a few times, walk to that corner, walk back to the middle, and wait for a vision to come together in my head.  Or as my former boss used to simply say, “I’m thinking.”

After I figured out what I wanted to do, then I let my little helper come out and assist me.  I was worried that he would come out and rip up all the plants, or start digging the dirt out of the pot, but all he wanted to do was swing the fairy, play with the pinwheels and clang the “Cat Crossing” sign on the ground so I would say, “YIKES!” and he would laugh.  Oh, this sweet child of ours.  I am constantly blessed by his sweet, laughing spirit.

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clanging cat sign

Thank you, God, for this sweet blessing.

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

Be my neighbor?

In our community, parking is an issue. There are never enough parking spots to accommodate everyone. Everyone is supposed to park at least one car in their garage, but not all do, which results in an even greater shortage of parking spots. It has become such a problem that the Board is proposing a paid parking solution — 1st permit would be $30, 2nd one $150, and a 3rd would be $300. We have one neighbor who has 3 cars and not a one of them gets parked in his garage, so needless to say, most everyone feels he’s not very neighborly.

So last night, I got William in bed for the night, it’s been hot here, so I left his window open. Lately he’s had trouble transitioning from the first light sleep cycle into the next deeper sleep cycle, so he wakes 40 minutes after he goes to sleep, crying his head off. Tony will go in and pat his butt and rub his back, and William will go back to sleep. It takes about 10 minutes, but Tony likes to wait longer to make sure he’s really out.

And THEN last night… dun dun dunnnn… I heard a super loud car stereo. It was so loud I figured it must be in the cul-de-sac behind our townhome, because I was at my desk at the rear of our home and I could hear it clear as day with the windows shut. I think nothing more of it until I go upstairs to tell Tony that William is asleep, which I could see on the video monitor better than he could in a darkened bedroom.

I looked out the front window and saw that one of That Neighbor’s cars was parked RIGHT UNDER William’s window, in the red zone, with its door open, radio going full blast. I was stunned to realize that the stereo I heard wasn’t in the rear of house at all, it was in the front! Instead of driving two houses down to his own place, he parked illegally in front of ours! Idiot. He was out of his car digging in the trunk of one of his other cars, which was (of course) parked in guest parking in front of our home.

I went from calm to white hot livid, and I marched out there, in my pajamas and told him to move his car RIGHT NOW, that my baby is asleep in the room right above his car. He said he would, but then kept digging in his trunk. I stood there and glared at him, hands on hips, determined that I wasn’t going to move until he moved his car. His loud, radio blaring, obnoxious car.

He got the point and quit diddling around, went and turned his radio off and moved his car down to the next neighbor’s garage, still parked in the red zone, but at least not under William’s room.

Sometimes it would be easier, I think, to live in the country and just park on the lawn.

Fortunately, William didn’t wake up again, but, man! Weirdly, Tony said he couldn’t hear the stereo (not even the bass that sounded like an earthquake) over all the white noise in William’s room, which is just weird to me. But, whatever. I made my point. In my jammies.

Harumph.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I own a Home, Our Kid is Cute

Frightful weekend!

As it turned out, last weekend ended up being our weekend to participate in fun and special Halloween things! The local historical park just down the road from us has an annual Fright Night. Our calendars have never meshed in the past to allow us to attend, so we usually ended up attending Knott’s Scary Farm or Universal Studio’s Halloween thing on a different weekend in October. Plus, I didn’t figure the local event would be all that impressive. This year, we happened to be available, so I lowered my expectations for the event and ended up being pleasantly surprised.

True, it wasn’t nearly as scary as the "professional" places, but they did have creepy, scary people roaming around. Their attempts to scare me always make me laugh at them anyway, so I got lots of laughs. They also REALLY did a lot of work with their Halloween lights (which were everywhere) and creepy sound boxes and frightful decorations dangling around.

The old schoolhouse, lit up with Halloween lights:

Weird (headless) bride and groom on the steps of the church:

Lots of Halloween lights everywhere:

On Saturday, the same place had a family event, so we invited the family over for a BBQ and then headed down the hill. The decorations were still up, but the scary-creepy people were gone and the freaky sound boxes were turned off. They had a craft area for the kids, local vendors who were giving away swag, games, a little pumpkin patch, kid friendly mazes, a costume parade, storytelling time, and kid friendly characters, many of whom were handing out candy. Captain Jack Sparrow even showed up to take pictures and hand out candy!

All in all, I think it was really well done and I actually did end up being impressed!

The schoolhouse the next day, not so scary! And Harry Potter was inside talking to the people who were wandering through.
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Captain Jack showed up. I have no idea who that kid is, I just wanted a picture of Captain Jack and his side kick!

I had purchased tickets through Groupon for one of the Queen Mary’s scary nights… and Sunday was the night. So off we headed for that! I was a little intimidated when we got to the area and the line to enter the parking lot was just ridiculous. Then the line to exchange the voucher for a ticket was ridiculous… more ridiculous, even, than getting into Disneyland on a busy summer day. At one point while we were waiting in one of those lines, I told Tony, "This event better not suck once we get in, because THAT would REALLY suck!" I know, I have a gift of phrasing things, don’t I?

Fortunately, the event was really fun and cool. There were a ton of people there and, as a result, the lines for the mazes sucked, but I never felt claustrophobic like I did at Knott’s Scary Farm that one year. However, if we do the event again (which we likely will), I think it would be worth it to spring the extra dough for the front of the line pass. But — they had live DJ’s in a couple different areas, one welcoming you into the entrance maze and one who entertained the line for another maze, along with some really cool pyrotechnics. They had a ton of creepy, scary zombie people who were really talented… better than the ones at Knott’s Scary Farm, I thought. One guy slid about 15 feet, sparks coming up off his knees, and stopped within inches of me! My response to him? "Whoa! That was cool!" He just stared at me. ha

We only had time to do a couple of mazes, and one of those went through the alleged haunted pool area of the Queen Mary. The whole thing was just a cool experience.

Queen Mary:

The “welcoming” DJ:

The haunted pool area:

Fortunately, the Groupon deal I purchased includes a day pass that we can use anytime through December 2012. I’m really looking forward to going back for that! This week it’s just been back to the usual… almost the weekend again!

(I’m trying out the post-by-email feature with this blog post. Hopefully it displays correctly…)

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I did something Special

Idyllic.

Minutes ago, our black and white kitty sat perched on my lap, purring loudly in response to a brushing that two nights ago I had promised him I would give him “sometime this weekend.” I have no confidence that he knew what I said, but I do know that he looks forward to brushing sessions like a boat riding seasick person does to seeing land. Head turning, eyes searching for what he desires when someone walks past the drawer where the brush is held.

As our cat looks forward to his brushings, I look forward to my hour long swims on the weekend under the early morning sun. Yesterday morning and this morning, I arose early and made my way to our community pool in the hopes that I would beat the crowds of neighbors seeking cheap “Marco Polo” type holiday weekend entertainment. I win some, I lose some. Yesterday, I lost. Today, I won.

In the afternoon yesterday, when the heat became overbearing, we headed to our local mall and walked hand-in-hand with each other through a few of the stores (air conditioning!). We headed to the frozen yogurt place and joined the throngs of people waiting in line for our chance at the cold treat, eating hurriedly to minimize the melting and dripping. The perfect excuse to eat fast!

Satisfied with ourselves, we headed home via the Duck Park route. We noted a group of fowls gathered near the sidewalk. As we drew near, we noted that someone had spread a great amount of seeded bird food there. Although the location of the food was less than ideal given its proximity to the road, we were thankful for it because we had no bread or food for them, since it was a spontaneous drive by.

Other small events lent the weekend a sense of ease and leisure, although it’s not — not really. We’ve been doing chores and normal weekend stuff, but the pervasive feeling of the holiday is here. Of just having an extra day that’s our own to enjoy with each other. Of freedom.

I feel like our kitty getting brushed — happy, content, long-awaited desire met for extra time at home. It’s good.

Happy 4th of July.

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Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, Who I am

Oh my Goodness!

A lady came into the doctor’s office, trailed by her two tow-headed daughters. The oldest, about 5, the younger one about 3 1/2. The lady checked-in and her two girls squiggled up and shared a chair in the waiting room. Their eyes promptly turned toward the TV in the corner that perpetually plays “health” videos. On it, a video of a man getting oral surgery was playing, his head tilted back at an awkward angle (as if there’s a non-awkward angle in the dentist chair), blood on the protective paper surrounding his face. The oldest girl said, in a concerned voice, “Oh my gosh, oh my goodness… look…” She nudged her sister, and then in tandem, they both started repeating to each other and the room in general, “Oh my goodness, oh my gosh, oh my goodness…” Their mom sat down next to them. The video changed to show a line of kids about their age brushing their teeth, and the oldest summarized what she had seen to her mom, “That poor man didn’t brush his teeth and look what happened to him…” Everyone in the waiting room, and the receptionist, was wearing a smirk for the next 5 minutes.

We attended the U2 concert in Anaheim this past Friday night. It was a good show — of course it was. They are one of the few bands one can expect to deliver a good show, and they always meet the expectations. We’ve had the tickets for this concert for over two years (it was supposed to be last year, but Bono had emergency back surgery instead). We saw them back in 2009 at the Rose Bowl, and this venue was much more convenient for us. Plus, we attended with two of our favorite people.

People watching at concerts is always something to behold and this event was no exception. We had the Butt Crack Massager guy in front of us, whose hand kept creeping up and down his woman’s butt crack. Then we had the guy behind us who brought his kid, who fell asleep mid-concert. And the Worshiper, who was sooooo into the concert that he had his hands raised to the sky the entire time, even when there was no music. And, finally, we had the two young women who were sitting in front of us who we dubbed the “Hair Swishers.” The one was such a passionate hair swisher (she swished her hair every 30 seconds, minimum) that she banged the back of her head on my knee during one attempted swish. Oh my gosh, oh my goodness was the litany going through my head. Tony didn’t realize how swishy she was until they switched seats after a beer run and the swisher sat in front of him. Even he started to get annoyed, and his patience level is MUCH higher than mine is. Now THAT was funny to watch.

The Butt Crack Massager guy

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Dude with hands in the air, always

Hair swishers. Ugh.

Yesterday we had another Duck Park Date. I found a loaf of bread for $.35 at Ralphs this past week and I immediately put “Duck Park Date” on our calendar. We were relieved to arrive at the park and find that we were practically the only people there! No fights, hooray! So we’re sitting there eating our frozen yogurt, and all of a sudden there’s a HUGE ruckus. Two geese started fighting across the pond. One of them grabbed the other’s neck and pushed him into the water. Feathers were flying, heads were being dunked, wings were flapping, and the honking! Oh my goodness, the noise! This was serious. I looked at Tony and said, “Whoa. Those girls that were fighting a couple weeks ago could take lessons from these birds!” And then we went over to try and break up the goose fight. Turns out, the dominant bird was a Papa protecting the Mama and their nest of 6 little babies. Have to say, that is something worth fighting about.

Then some idiot let his dog off the leash and the dog promptly went tromping into the flowers where the bird’s nest was. Mama Goose had a lot to say about that… I’ve seen dogs move pretty fast, but that dog? With Mama Goose on his tail? Oh, he moved… and it took her about 10 minutes before she was settled down enough to entrust Papa Goose with guard duty again and go back to her nest tending duties.

Do you see Mama Goose settling back down in the flowers?

Oh my gosh, oh my goodness!

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, Entertainment can be Expensive