Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things I Learned on a Caribbean Cruise

John and I got back Sunday from a CME cruise to the Caribbean.  Here are some of the (surprising, and not so surprising) things I learned.

1.  If you go on a cruise as a relatively fit, early-thirties couple, you will find yourself in the bottom 25th percentile of both age and girth for the ship's population.  (This lesson could actually be expanded upon to include such disturbing things as fat-roll tan-lines and XXXXL speedos, but I'll spare you all.)

2.  The extraordinarily bratty and demanding are probably a minority of any population, but in an enclosed space (even a space as large as a 15-deck cruise ship) they quickly seem to become the majority.
3.  Even inanities (such as "Please keep your arms and legs inside the bus at all times.") are absolutely charming when spoken with the accent of the British Virgin Islands.  Also, a car in the BVI without a horn is about as much good as a car without an engine.  You definitely need one if you are going to get around huge trucks like these. . .

. . . on crazy mountain roads like this.
(Of all the days to forget my camera, I didn't bring it as we toured Tortola, and that was the place I needed it most.  So the pictures above have been snatched from the World Wide Webs.)
4.  When given the opportunity to nap, lounge, and read as I see fit, I will a) nap every day, b) read 5 books in 5 days, and c) lounge like a cat.  And I won't get sick of it.
(Edited to add the books I read:  The Complete Short Stories of Dorothy Sayers (LOVE her and her Lord Peter stories--didn't care so much for her murderer-viewpoint stories), Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler (as ridiculous and unintentionally funny as all his books are), My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (I'm still working through my opinion on this, but it's definitely worth reading.), The American Plague by Molly Something (fascinating and disturbing--my perspective on yellow fever is forever changed), and Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer (delightful and brainless, as all her books are). )
5.  Sometimes the most memorable part of a day won't be the historic forts visited.

Or the pile of enormous cannonballs found.

Or the miles and miles and miles you walk along huge stone walls you weren't even aware existed the day before.

Sometimes the most memorable part of a day will be that my sweet military-history-obsessed husband will notice how longingly I watch all the kites being flown on a Puerto-Rican holiday in a Puerto-Rican field . . .

. . . find an abandoned, broken-down kite, . . .

. . . repair it and restring it with more discarded materials. . .

 . . . and launch it into the windy sea air patiently again and again until it finally takes flight and I giggle with delight like I'm six years old again. 

6.  A very frivolous, very yellow, very impractical pair of wedge sandals is exactly the purchase that should be made the day before embarking on an a cruise-like adventure.  It won't be regretted. 

(I think six lessons are enough for one post.  I'll continue with this tomorrow.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

To Blog, To Blog, To Blog

Quickly, quickly, I just want to share this darling chore chart PDF link for all of you moms out there who are looking for one.  I like this one because it's fast, it's easy, it's cute, and I can change the girls' chores every week if needs be.  Plus, I want to also share Sara's idea for a "Mom's Request" spot on the chore chart.  It's the most genius invention ever.  At least once a day my girls have to come to me and ask "What do you want me to do now, Mom?"  It might just be to unload the utensil rack from the dishwasher, or I might want them to clean up all the toys in the basement.  I get to decide every day.  (They can't watch She-Ra on hulu, get out the art supplies, or play with their Webkinz unless their jobs are checked off, so they're pretty motivated.)

(The above picture is not my child.  I love our chore charts, but my kids don't love them enough to pose with them.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Visit to B-Town

You know, I have this friend.  She's the one (to my South Bend friends) that I mention once or twice a minute to talk about the creative things she's doing.  She's the one (to my Provo friends) that I battled through the teaching trenches with.  She's the one (to Olivia's friends) that's Libby's mom--and Liv and Libs have been besties from birth.  (Olivia actually visited Libby in the hospital.)  We've each moved two or three times each since our Provo days, but we're still within driving distance, and since I needed a small vacation this last weekend, the girls and I headed on down to visit the Soelbergs in their new Bloomington digs.  John was on call or moonlighting all weekend, and Joe, in his hard-working MBA mode, was in California, and so we had a houseful of little girls and happy moms.
We did so many things they need to be listed in number mode.
1. Sara and I worked on cutting out blocks (from our scraps) for a Paintbox Quilt.  I am not a quilter, but I am a mathematician, and I thought that I could honestly figure out the fabric needs for this little quilt.  I was wrong.  Last time we attempted the math for this, we were honestly coming up with answers like 67 yards.  12 yards!  15 yards?  Obviously, WAY off.  This time, since we were using scraps, we were just cutting what blocks we could, but I made about 10,000 mistakes on 10 blocks.  I can see that this is never going to be my talent.
2.  We had the girls make Homemade Taffy.  There are no pictures because we were, quite literally, up to our elbows in both sticky taffy and greasy butter.  There may actually be a 1:1 ratio of taffy:butter in the finished product because it takes that much to keep the candy moving in the little hands.  But I absolutely recommend this activity for anyone with five- and six-year olds.  (File it away for a rainy spring afternoon.)
3.  We visited "Suesspicious Behavior" a birthday party for Dr. Seuss at the Bloomington Public Library.  We fish for "Red Fish and Blue Fish".

We made fun Cat-in-the-Hats.

Livi and Libs opted to be Thing 1 and Thing 2.  (Perfect for them).

Bella begged at least two extra cupcakes off the cake server lady while I was dealing with Mimi meltdowns.  Awesome. 
4.  The girls played and partied and pulled every toy out of every box and basket and then crashed.


5.  Bella smeared toothpaste in Sara's carpet, dumped cat food all over the floor, alternately chased and ran away from Phelpsie (the sweetest cat in the world), emptied Sara's pantry, begged for animal crackers incessantly, cried herself sick after being put to bed (she NEVER cries when being put to bed), and loved the freedom of eating at the big table (too much, really).  And Sara still loved her.  That's why we love Sara.
6.  We partied hard at the Big Hill.  (Reminiscent of our Big Hill from Toledo.)  The girls rolled, and ran, and fought to their hearts' content.

I reveled in the beginning of spring weather and relished not wearing tights to church. 
7.  Mimi and Jenna had their best interaction ever.  They've been frenemies since birth--both strong-willed, both determined to be the big girls and not the little girls, but this time, they hit it off perfectly.  It was wonderful.

8.  We drove home, sad to miss our friends ("I wish we could have our dad and school and Libby and Jenna all in the same town," Mimi sobbed as we drove away.")  We planned some excursions for later this spring, and wished Joe congratulations (Congratulations!) on his new exotic San Diego internship.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Update on the February Updates

I forgot to add John to the updates below, and he was hurt. He recently switched from a Medicine rotation (where one must look tough and menacing, to match the atmosphere) to a Pediatrics rotation (where one should look clean, sweet, and kind, in order to keep tears to a minimum). Since John's face is naturally happy and non-threatening, he grew a full beard (well, as full as possible, bless his hairless heart) for Medicine. In the transition to clean-shaven, he needed, of course, to experiment with different combinations.
Inspired by my brother Rob, John shows the huge difference a tiny spot of facial hair can make.

Pervert. (I wanted to use other, funnier, more descriptive, words--use your imagination--but I am afraid of the Google searches that would land the crazies at my innocent family blog.)

Distinguished Mexican gentleman.
Men, if you are going to grow a mustache, keep the flavor saver.

(He's now back to my favorite. Clean, clean, and smooth.)