Category Archives: I have Friends

Ping Pong, Fairies, Balloons, Bikes & Pirates

With a title like that, why bother writing anything else?

Right?

The month of June is over, marking the fact that a whole bunch of kids are now a year older!

Nephew Milo has had a love of ping pongs and ping pong paddles since, well … I remember him just learning to walk, wobbling around with a ping pong paddle. Not doing anything but holding it. Then when he started talking, he would say, “Ping pong paddle!” clear as day. Just one of those things where everything lined up in the universe when he first saw them and he fell in love with ping pongs and ping pong paddles.

Given that love, his mother decided the theme for his 2nd birthday party would be ping pong. All the food was in the shape of a ping pong — even the cake. Mini pita bread on popsicle sticks were the ping pong paddles and every adult had to play in the “tournament,” with the winner being judged by the kids — and bribing of the judges was encouraged.

Somehow Uncle Tony “won” the tournament. We were all so surprised.

The next birthday party was for my friend, Grace’s daughter, Mia, who turned 4. (Can someone tell me how all the commas are supposed to go in that sentence? Nina?) For the most part, Mia has had an undying love for all things that are bug related. Snails, roly-polys, ants, flowers, spiders… they’re all her friends. Much to her mother’s chagrin. This past year or so, she’s also developed an affection for Tinkerbell. Who knew Tinkerbell also loved Mia?

And the balloon artist? This guy was really good. Not only with his balloon creations, but with the kids. I found myself entertained by him, and could have watched him create balloon creatures for hours.


After Mia’s party, we headed over to get gas, and on a whim, decided to stroll through the strip mall in which the gas station was located. As we rounded the corner, we spotted Tony’s brother, who was hanging out with a bunch of bikes. Also known as working (for him). We had nothing on our calendar, so we decided to sit and visit with him.

This is actually Tony in the picture, but trust me when I tell you, all those bikes are NOT Tony’s…

Who should stroll by, but Captain Jack Sparrow! And the balloon guy had a gig down at the end, so we went to get the nephews some balloon swords and surreptitiously watched Sparrow pose with random kids. It was weird; we felt like it was just a continuation of Mia’s birthday party, except Mia wasn’t there and our nephews were. Weird.

This weekend, we get a holiday from birthday parties (don’t worry, we have two next weekend to make up for the time off). To kick the weekend off, we went yesterday and saw Eclipse. Something always goes wonky when we go to movie premieres and yesterday was no exception. The movie started, but the sound died and switched to playing the radio, and the curtains in front of the screen didn’t open all the way. They couldn’t fix it, so they upgraded us all into the IMAX theater. Oh my, IMAX. Can you say LARGE SCREEN with dizzying proportions? I can now say with certainty that even vampires have pores and nose hairs… and Taylor Lautner has very nice abs.

How big does a screen need to be anyway? See that guy way down there? That’s actually a concession stand.

Today was a relaxing, but busy day. We were on the go from the moment we got up. But it was relaxing because it was stuff we wanted to do… you know, like swimming (for me), basketball (for him). A deep tissue massage (for me), and another movie (for him). A drive in my convertible and working on a garden (both of us). Gaming (for him) and blogging (for me).

Just a nice day of freedom. Happy 4th of July.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I did something Special, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

Just Big Kids!

We all know that June is the month for weddings, but who knew it’s also birthday party month for kids? I’m looking at our calendar, and we have a party to attend every weekend of the month. Gives a whole new meaning to September being a hot month. Yeah, think about that last sentence for a second.

To kick off the month of birthday parties, our Parallel Lives Neighbors invited us to their kids’ birthday party. Their oldest turned 4 the end of May (for the record, she was actually supposed to have been born in June), and the youngest turns 1 next week. So they had a party for both of them this past weekend.

They hold their birthday parties at a nearby park that’s well-hidden, and owned by the company where they both work. It’s kind of this place that you want to ensure you’re with someone you know and trust, because otherwise you’re driving and driving, and you turn off the main road and you’d swear the person you’re with is gonna take you out and shoot you.

When we get to the parking lot, we’re greeted with this sign…

And then we noticed a bunch of turkey vultures circling above us. Like I said, you really wanna know the person you’re with.

There’s a clearing with picnic tables and a cement slab, on which the bouncy house was placed. I mean, what else would you do with a cement slab in the middle of nowhere?

We didn’t know everyone there, but we knew a few. Enough to feel comfortable visiting or just making small talk with those we didn’t. Tony was envious of all the fun the kids were having in the bouncy house, so he was kind of hanging out there… and if you know Tony, you know that kids just kind of flock to him. It wasn’t long before the kids involved him in some sort of monster-roaring, fake punch throwing kind of game.

Tony playing with some random, unknown boy child.

Tony kept a close eye on things, and when the kids gathered around the pinata and cake…

The big kids took over the Tweety Bird bouncy house!

On Sunday, we managed a kidnapping of my friend, Grace, and off we went to CaliforniaLand. It was a warm day, and I’ve never gone on the Grizzly River Rapids ride. There were warnings everywhere that we would get wet.

Oh my, did we get soaked!

No trip to Disney theme parks is complete without a visit to one of their bakeries for their chocolate drizzled macaroons. I took this picture because it struck me as amusing… one shelf of healthy apples, and the rest of the display cases were full of sugar laden goodies guaranteed to put you in a sugar coma for the rest of the day.

Believe it or not, I only bought one macaroon at that store. I did get a rocky road cup and a chocolate covered strawberry (sort of healthy, right?) at the candy store. I promise they’ll last me all week!

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Filed under Best Husband, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

The Long Weekend.

The sun had slid silently, without drama over to the other side of the house, casting the porch into lengthening shadows. Pine trees surrounded the house, the tips of their branches opening like candelabras reaching toward the heavens, standing straight, tall and green, like silent sentinels to the weather changes. Last week there was snow, this week there was sun.

A soft breeze flirted with the skirt that covered the white wicker furniture on the porch. The breeze, combined with the lengthening shadows encouraged the woman curled on the wicker couch reading a book, to pull the blanket closely about her. The book she was reading in peaceful solitude had distanced her to the passing of time.

Her back was to me, her aged white hair pulled up into a bun, the entire essence of her that I glimpsed in the 30 seconds it took us to pedal past her house, gave me the sense that she had enjoyed the sun and was enjoying the shade just as much, but the book she was reading took priority to her comfort.

I enjoyed that moment of imaginary and, despite a 5 hour journey (2 hours normally) to get to the mountains on Friday (due to this), then coming down with a nasty cold early Saturday morning and getting the first period since my miscarriage (a helluva doozy, if you’re curious), there were lots of good moments that more than made up for the pain and inconveniences.

We BBQed chicken skewers and spontaneously invited friends who happened to be up there to join us. We talked late into the evening and it was such good fellowship.

On one of our bike rides, we stopped and visited with the donkey who lives a couple streets over from our mountain cabin, and when we left I received a rather loud serenade of sad donkey hee-haws… “DON’T GO, DON’T GO!” He seemed to say.

Taking my coffee out on the back porch in the early morning hours and listening to the squirrels “chaw-chaw-chaw-chaw” at each other from the tree tops, while they performed a strange dance of hops and runs from one tree top to the next, fearless of heights, sounding for all the world like a strange bird.

We had breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, and one of the waitresses, hoping we would be up this weekend, brought me a dark chocolate candy bar with almonds. She was so excited to be able to give it to me, and I was so touched at her thoughtfulness.

The cook at our favorite breakfast place cooks two nights a week at a fancy restaurant. He’s always encouraged us to come by, with stories of deliciously prepared food. Sadly, we’ve never been up there on the nights he works there, but we were this trip, so we made a date of it.

On the way down the mountain this morning, for the first half of the drive, there was no one in front of, nor behind us. If you’ve ever driven a twisty mountain road and been stuck behind someone, you know what a blessing that is.

And the Sweet Broom is blooming — the fragrance is amazing. We rolled our windows down, things a-flying about in the car, the bird chirping away at the havoc of it all, but the fragrance, oh, the fragrance!

The snow has melted (this is one of my favorite views on the drive down, in case you hadn’t noticed).

It was one of those weekends that made you believe that if you could just blow a dandelion in one deep, long breath, that maybe, just maybe, you could have another weekend just like it. Starting now.

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Loathe & Love — 04/29/10 (updated)

Loathe:

*Apparently feeling the need to burn, baby, burn. I burned The roof of my mouth the other day. I followed that up by swiping my finger along the barrel of my hot, HOT curling iron, and then I very nearly got the side of my hand on the clothes iron. I’m giving a wide berth to the lit candles in our house right now… I don’t need to lose another chunk of hair from sliding it through a lit candle wick (like I did last December).

*Grapes that were proclaimed to be seedless by the store where I bought them, but weren’t.

* New law in Orange County: If you buy fish at the pet store, you have to register yourself as a fish owner. Something about bacteria… I’m hoping my eyes will stop rolling from exasperation at this new law soon. It’s been six days now.

Love:

*Summer sandals in fun colors.

* My husband, who intuitively seems to know when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I came home one day last week to discover that he had put away the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. Usually, those are my chores but sometimes he just takes over and does them. Sometimes, I like a man who knows how to take over. *rawr*

* My husband’s meat loaf. Seriously good stuff.

* These gorgeous things. Every time I’ve gone swimming this month, I’ve smelled this glorious jasmine-like scent. I finally figured out that the awesome smell was coming from these trees. I have no idea what they are, but they’re absolutely spectacular, both visually and olfactory.

* We saved four “feeder” goldfish from certain death. Got ’em at the pet store for $.27 each last Saturday. They’re pretty and a bargain. Let’s hope they’re around for long term, because the county knows we have them. 🙄

* I asked my boss if I can work earlier hours on Thursdays. My goal is to leave work in time to be able to participate in the aquatic exercise class at the gym. Tonight was my first night back since February. I was incredibly touched to be welcomed back so warmly by the instructor and classmates, especially given the reason I stopped going.

One Last Thing:

So far this year, it seems to be the running theme of learning to have grace when faced with situations beyond human control.

I’ve asked Tony’s permission to share with you his family’s needs, with a request for prayers and thoughts. His grandfather has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which has spread to other organs. If that weren’t enough, he also has some broken ribs (he fell) and pneumonia.

Our prayer is that God will ease his pain, and bring some measure of comfort to him and the family, for the period of time that he has remaining on this earth. As well as provide his caretakers (his daughters) with wisdom and peace.

I’ve heard it said that getting old isn’t for sissies. In fact, my own grandpa said it when he was gettin’ on in years. Indeed, a truer statement has never been said: Getting old definitely isn’t for sissies.

**************Update — 04/30/2010**************
Tony’s grandpa passed away this afternoon shortly after 4 PM. He would have been 91 years old the end of May. I’d like to think that he’s now met Miracle, his 8th great-grandchild, in Heaven, who got there 4 weeks ahead of him. The dates of their passing are like bookends, April 1st and April 30th, into God’s hands.

It’s been a strange month.

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Filed under Best Husband, I have Family, I have Friends, Love/Loathe

Love & Loathe – 03/18/10

Loathe:

* Car trouble. It’s really unfair how one little bitty expensive part can cause so much trouble. Tomorrow will be day two in the shop for the little red car.

* Police helicopters who circle above our neighborhood at 11:15 PM once a week. I don’t buy it anymore that there’s some criminal they’re watching, it’s too predictable. I think it’s a practice flight and I think it’s annoying. I need my sleep or I just might become a criminal for them to watch. *grumble*

* Taxes.


Love:

* A particular blog friend who mailed me homemade St. Patrick’s day sugar cookies ALL THE WAY from the east coast. I opened the package and stood there with tears in my eyes at her thoughtfulness. I love you, Nina. I would have taken pictures, except that there aren’t any left to take a picture of. They were gone within 8 hours. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it that they were delicious.

* Kentucky Fried Chicken’s cole slaw.

* Jalapenos on a hamburger. We had dinner with friends tonight (I love them, too), but putting those jalapenos on my burger made it 10x more delicious than delicious can be defined.

* One more month and my community should start heating our community’s pool. I can’t wait!

* My husband who gladly inconvenienced himself by giving up his car for the day, so I could get to work. Which meant I got to experience what it’s like to drive around at 5 AM to take him to work so I could have his car for the day. It’s weird at that time of the day, no one’s around and it’s all dark and stuff. Weird.

* Tony’s parents. For many reasons, I love them, but heaped on top of it all, since we both need a car for tomorrow, they are gladly giving up one of theirs.

One Last Thing:

I’m just plain tired. The weekend needs to be here so I can sleep.

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I have Friends, Love/Loathe

Where’d It Go?

The weekend went way too fast, but don’t they always?

Our mini trip to the mountains went smoothly. We even had a dusting of fresh snow when we woke up Saturday morning. It looked so nice and pretty and fresh, because it covered all the dirty snow. Like a fresh coat of makeup, though it wore off when the sun came up.

Fresh snow…

We had breakfast at our favorite restaurant up there. Funny thing, that. One of the waitresses had seen us in one of the stores up there last November. At the time, I had been looking for dark chocolate covered marshmallow candy in the clearance bin from Halloween. She remembered that incident and found some dark chocolate covered marshmallow candy on clearance from Valentine’s Day and bought it for me the previous weekend, thinking we’d be up there. Well, we weren’t and sadly, the candy didn’t make it through the week, but it made for a pretty funny story.

Ohhh, also, the waitress shared about her trip down the mountain to some sort of gag store where she picked up The Freeloader. What’s The Freeloader, you ask? It’s an expandable fork. How hilarious is this?

Normal…

Expanded… looks pretty handy, doesn’t it?

Sunday was church, and then went to pick up the husband’s parents at LAX. They were full of stories about their Habitat build and, also interesting, that it had been mid-summer (hot!!) where they had been (New Zealand). Coming back to California, with our rainy weekend, was quite a bit cooler than where they’d just been.

Field of flowers by the in-law’s house…

View on the way home. That shiny ribbon on the horizon? Ocean. Not always visible from this far away.

We had movie night last night and watched a marathon of Ice Age movies. Someone tried microwaving some expired popcorn and the house hasn’t smelled the same since.

Like I said, the weekend went by way too fast.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

Determination vs. Mountain.

After I took my mom to the airport on Friday, I decided to take that pesky tire of mine into my tire place… since I was driving by it, you know. In fact, I was so confident it was going to be a waste of time, I nearly got back in my car and left. But I persevered. Turns out, the water test showed nothing, so they took the wheel apart and found a small hole on the inner part of the tire, and a staple inside. The puncture, they said, was sealing against the wheel in certain positions, so it wasn’t a constant leak but a persistent one, when it did leak.

A relief, really, because that means I didn’t tick anyone off to the degree of anger it would take to spend time deflating a tire. So there you have it, tire deflation mystery solved.

Friday night we headed up to the local mountains, only to be turned away, along with hundreds of other people, by CHP and CalTrans. Something about an avalanche up the front way and the power company needing the road to restore power on the back way. We tried both ways a couple of times Friday night and finally drove back home and slept.

Since we had no plans for the weekend other than going to the mountains, we decided to try again the next morning. So we drove back up… checked the front way, then the back way… both were still closed. So we headed to the back-back way (and final way, except for aircraft) and waited in line with 5 miles of other people from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM, which is when the road opened (they had to clear an accident).

It then took us an hour and a half to drive 9.5 miles because really, people, listen to the cop who had to drive up and down the line of cars — DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to adjust or install your snow chains, PULL OFF TO THE SIDE.

Seriously, when did common sense become such a priceless commodity?

BUT, we made it up to the cabin, shoveled out the driveway, spent the night, saw incredible amounts of snow, had the best breakfast ever, helped a friend shovel out her car, played with our friend’s dogs, including an adorable puppy (puppy!!!), closed up and winterized the cabin, and came back home.

Tony shoveling, before I got out and helped… and I DID help.

Best breakfast ever…

Look, I found a car under there…

Puppy love!

It was truly a grand adventure and I can’t wait to do it again next weekend!

More pictures can be found here: Link Oh, go on, click it, you know you want to…

Happy Birthday to my friend, Tamara, today (you lurker, you!!) and to my bestest-est friend, Grace, tomorrow. I love you both. *muwah*

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