Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

Hi, I'm Susie. You can find out all about me, or just read my journal.

[No comments] I hate this week: Saturday night we went to Knott’s Fall-o-Ween event with our best friends. After that, we found out John’s dad, and our friend’s dad died. Since then, our city has caught fire, our house has been continually infested with ants, and then i found out my other good friend has breast cancer and I can’t even anymore. Rushing around doing funeral/last minute travel prep, kitchen is a disaster because ants + pantry, so many errands, kids had school cancelled because half our city is evacuated etc etc etc 2020 you suck.

[No comments] My Boy is Back: Quarantine turned Arthur into a grumpy monster who never wanted to do anything but play video games. He would cry when I made him go outside to scooter. I couldn’t get him to play games or do activities or read with me.

He is finally back. Going to 2 1/2 hours of school every day, the playgrounds being open, lots of room to play in our new house, and getting out and about... Today he asked to read with both me and John. He asked to play a board game with me, and got out dominoes. He helped me make granola, walked Sienna to school with me and Wally in the morning, and willingly cleaned up after himself. I missed this sweet boy so much.

[No comments] Wally’s Awesome Qualities: A text about Maggie after a young women’s zoom game:

Maggie was adorable tonight. She suggested we do “Wally’s awesome qualities” as a category for the game we were playing. She suggested “fluffy ears,” “sniffy nose,” “pettable tummy,” “shakey paw” were among the adorable highlights.

Grown Up: Arthur asked me how old you have to be to be a grown up. When I told him 18, he argued back that I’m older than that he wanted to know ho old you have to be to be a “capice” (police) or a doctor. And I was still older than that! I guess he is waiting for me to grow up and get a real job.

Math Whiz: Eye Doctor: Can you read these numbers?

Arthur: Ninety five. Eight hundred and seventy three. Two thousand one hundred and fifty four.

Labor Day Weekend: Not much to do around here (the state of California...) but we made some fun weekend plans. It was super hot - luckily our Taste of Knott’s date was last weekend when we got a break from the heat.

Saturday and Sunday afternoons we had pool times, and we took change both days for the kids to dive for. They loved it. Then Monday we took them to Walgreens to spend their hard earned cash. Lots of treats, and a few squishmallows were purchased. I also realized it had been exactly 6 months since Maggie’s birthday party, which was the last time she had gone inside a store.

We also had pizza at the park, a biking dinner date for the grown ups and a big kids movie night where they planned and made their own treats. John took me on a hike, and also a bike and hike. And we ate a huge dinner and played games with our friends on Labor Day. So much fun, considering we’re not allowed to do anything!

The Mask House: Arthur doesn’t want to move to a new house. When John probed a little more to find out why, Arthur said, “I don’t want to wear a mask.” Obviously we had to wear masks when we took the kids to see the house.

Movie Night: We’ve been having weekly movie nights with our neighbors for the last six months, watching everything from Clueless to Inception. We make treats and popcorn to share and enjoy a break from the kids. Tonight, our big kids planned their own movie might. They picked a movie together, made their own treats, planned to wear pajamas. It’s adorable.

Sienna Seal: Sienna’s gymnastics coach told her she is super flexible because she can put her head on her feet in a seal stretch.

Sienna talks nonstop.

Power of Moments: My friend recommended a book called The Power of Moments. I devoured it and John is also reading it. The book explains how to create more memorable moments in your life. Chiefly relevant to us, and the children were raising, are moments of elevation, which can be made by adding sensory elements, or surprise, that sort of thing. We’re trying to plan more fun things for our kids since life is kind of boring right now. I tend to be the soul-sucking voice of reason, but luckily I’m married to a fun, creative, out of the box thinker.

Taste of Freedom: Last night John and I went with some friends to the Taste of Knott’s food festival at Knott’s berry farm. It was a lot of fun, the food was mostly really good, and it was nice to hang out with our friends. But mostly it was nice to DO something. California is still almost completely shut down and for people who like to go places and do things, it’s been pretty boring. The festival was limited attendance, required a health screening, monitored social distancing in food lines, was out doors, and we had to wear masks unless we were sitting down eating. So it all felt safe. I hope we can find more things to do.

42: I am not feeling It today. Life, the universe, and everything. Bleh.

Arthur the Mathematician : Arthur loves math and is so dang good at it. He was doing first grade Prodigy with Sienna during distance learning in the spring. Just now I told Maggie and Dalton to be in bed at 8 and he asked me “what o clock is it?” When I told him it was 7:30 he said “Maggie and Dalton have thirty more minutes.”

More Awesomeness: We went to Snowbird again on our second Utah trip this summer. We brought our nephew Franco with us. This time the tunnel was open so we took the lift up and walked through the tunnel and hiked around among the wildfires a bit. We handed out chocolate-frosted peanut butter rice krispie treats and while hiking around and having our snack, I heard Sienna say to her cousin, "Aren't my parents awesome??"

Heber Staycation: Yesterday we drove from the cabin to Heber where we rented a side-by-side and enjoyed the trails in Wasatch State Park. It was a lot of fun. We say some deer, some wild turkeys, and elk, and drove through some pools of water. We all had a good time, though I’m glad I wasn’t driving.

After the off road adventure, we went to the Homestead Crater for a soak in the hot spring. It was lovely. Then we grabbed some groceries and left civilization again. Wally spent nearly 8 hours hanging out in the bathroom and he was glad to see us, but no worse for wear.

Loving another cabin stay, John and I doing hikes most mornings. We’re becoming very familiar with all the trails within four miles of the cabin.

It’s Complicated: Sienna: Gib, we can get married. If you don’t move far away. I think people get married when they’re twenty. So in 7 years Maggie will get married.

Unrelatedly, Gibson has been calling her “Sis.”

Awesome: Sienna: I wish we had an awesome house. We already have an awesome family, now we just need an awesome house.

(She was watching Barbie.)

Back in the Groove: I went to an in-person exercise class in the church parking lot this morning. It was so nice to see everyone. I’ve been doing the classes over Zoom (normally they are held in the church gym) but it is not the same. I burned way more calories, had way more fun, and got interrupted way less.

Happy 40: The other day John said he didn’t think he could make it through this pandemic with anyone else. Because our friends are boring and don’t understand how antsy he feels not being able to travel.

Annoyingly, all the exciting plans we made for John’s 40th birthday this year were canceled, including a Disney Cruise, and a kid-free trip to London and Amsterdam. Instead, we had a quiet celebration. The night before, we got fancy Italian take out with our friends and ate it at the park. Then got ice cream and sat around taking for three hours. Today, John and I went for a hike. He had to work, but we had lunch as a family (shrimp scampi for him) and we ordered Inkas for dinner and lemon Bundt cake for dessert. We got him a hammock stand, a Take a Hike car sticker, and a box of See’s. I also spent some time cleaning up the patio, though I bought him the hammock stand before we knew for sure the kids weren’t going back to in-person school, and we need the patio for room to spread out.

Always with the Covid. Here’s to traveling again by 41.

Halloween Camp/Fun Mom: On the way to gymnastics camp this morning, Sienna and Arthur begged me to stay and watch them. I didn’t have anything urgent to do, so I finally relented. I watched them for about 20 minutes, from the floor so they could run and tell me what they were doing between activities (it was free play). I heard another girl begging her mom to stay and watch but the mom had to go to work, and then I felt glad I had decided to watch them. It was Halloween day in their holiday themed camp, and Sienna wore a top short tinkerbell costume, and Arthur was a Star Destroyer.

Support Human: John’s sister Jodi commented on Wally and Maggie’s relationship: “You didn’t get Maggie a dog. You got that dog a support person.”

Maggie’s Salsa Dream: Maggie had a dream that we were on a boat but it was raining really hard so we weren’t having fun (wonder how that idea entered her subconscious). So she made it a lucid dream (which the kids think gives you power to control your dreams) and gave us all the power to fly. We saw lots of blue whales below and then landed at a restaurant, which had dad’s salsa. She says the salsa was very detailed for a dream.

Picking Raspberries: Grandma Susan told me a story about a job picking raspberries when she was 13. The lady picked her up at 4 in the morning and drove a bunch of teenagers in the back of her truck out to her raspberry field. She picked raspberries until 11, and got $.10/basket. She said she was lucky to get $.40 some days, if you got assigned a row that didn’t have a lot of ripe ones.

Yellowstone: We’re road-tripping it up still. We drove to Yellowstone from John’s parents yesterday and spent all day in the park today. Because we had Wally with us, and dogs aren’t allowed in any trails, we took during doing a lot of things, and got to do some things twice. We first did the Firehole Canyon drive, where we took a family picture, just like we did on our last visit - when Maggie was 2, and I was pregnant with Dalton. Ben we went to the paint pots. I took all the kids through the loop in the rain, and then went again with John, by which point the rain had moved on.

We went to the Grand Prismatic Spring area, where we left the girls behind on the first trip, then John took them for round two. Then John and the older kids hiked to the overlook, which looked amazing, but I decided to skip it. We then had lunch in the Old Faithful parking lot, and got to watch it erupt as a family, including Wally. I watched Wally while everyone else did a loop walk to see lots of other geysers (their favorite was Anemone geyser).

After Old Faithful, we drove to West Thumb. John and I left the kids to do a hike, but it took us three tries to find the trail we wanted, which was actually the boardwalk to lot of geysers and mud pots, some of which were IN the lake. We got sprinkled on a bit as we watched a huge storm pass over the other side of the lake. The boardwalk was so cool we decided I would take the kids through it. I retook a pic John and I did, in the same area, only with sun in the background. Ten minutes later, we were hurrying through pouring rain and hail, and super close lightning and thunder from another storm that blew in. Yikes. We drove in the rain back the way we came, and by the time we got to the Continental Divide sign we wanted to take a pic of, the sun was back.

On the way home we stopped at Biscuit Basin, where John and I walked around with the boys - lots of colorful pools, and did the other Firehole Lake drive. And saw some bison.

Hippo Ice Cream Scoop: Jodi was over yesterday, and last night, she and John and I got to digging around in the drawers and cabinets and Susan was telling us where stuff came from. It reminded me of when mom was lying in bed dying, except we didn’t write anything on sticky notes. Anyway, I mentioned that I want her hippo scrub brush when she dies and Jodi was like “no, I’ve been looking everywhere for one as good as that!” And Susan was detailing how she uses it to clean her toes. So apparently we will be fighting over her decades old, used, toe scrubber when she dies.

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