Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

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

[No comments] Household List: My cousin Alyson came to help me when Maggie was a couple weeks old. She got up in the night with the baby, cooked amazing food from scratch, did laundry, gave me breastfeeding help. When I commented she wasn't getting much of a vacation, she laughed and said something implying it was a whole different kind of break. Her boys were maybe 5 and 7 at the time.

I am fascinated by the invisible mental burden of moms (as homemakers). I've spent hours over the past few weeks coordinating, organizing, cooking, planning, shopping, and preparing to leave my kids. John is more than capable, and they'll be watched by my neighbor, with whom they're probably overly familiar. But I still had to pass on the details of our life, and John still has his day job.

I made a list for my neighbor of when she'll have the kids and a few little things she'll be helping with. Then I made John a detailed schedule of the week, and an even more detailed schedule of things that needed to happen every day.

John: "Drive to gym?" Am I just supposed to know what time?
Me: That's Tressa's. If it was on your list, I would have put the exact time you need to leave and what car seats to take and address and phone number and coaches names...
John: And emergency contacts!

Tressa and I have a bit of a shared mental burden... which makes it easier on both of us!

[No comments] Little Gymnast: Today I took Arthur to open baby gym at the place Sienna and Maggie have gymnastics. I don't think it ever occurred to him that he could have fun there; he's usually stuck in a chair being bored. It took him a while to warm up, but he had fun throwing blocks into the pit, playing with the giant exercise balls, and going down the slide. We had some friends there too, so I had fun too.

[No comments] 101 Picnics: Sienna's favorite thing to do when she gets home from school is have a picnic lunch in the living room while watching a movie. Picnic just means she has to eat on a blanket so she doesn't make a mess. Today she brought home a 101 Dalmatian book from the school library, so we read that, then watched the movie while she had her picnic lunch. She had two bowls of pasta with red sauce and Parmesan, almost an entire package of blueberries, a string cheese, and a package of fruit snacks.

[No comments] Duty and Honor: Me: Want to go put these clothes in the laundry basket for me?

Sienna: That would be an honor!

Peoples Is Peoples : Last night, while the girls were in gymnastics and the boys were home with dad, I stopped into Target to make a return. As I was walking across the street, everything suddenly get very surreal. Like, what is this life I'm living? in a kind of first world way.

When I approached the return counter, several young men employees were joking about a TV show. This turned into a conversation about Kids These Days and screens and the cashier made a comment about something he had learned in his child development class. It struck me that I wouldn't have expected him to be taking child development; I wouldn't have thought of him being in school at all. I would have only thought of him as a Target employee, but he is a person as well.

Eclipse: Today was the famous eclipse. We only got about 70% coverage in our area. I didn't plan well, but we got to have a fun experience. Some neighbors were outside and let us borrow their glasses. Other neighbor's made the viewing boxes and we got to check the eclipse out that way.

Green: I deleted a few friends (actual friends) from my Instagram feed because I hated the way I get when I looked at their posts. This is also one of many reasons don't follow corporations. From my personal psychoanalysis it seems I am envious of the following things.

People who go on girls weekends (like all the time).
Free Disney stuff.
People who seem to have unlimited amounts of money to spend of stuff I wouldn't spend money on even if I had money to spend on it.
People who travel incessantly.
People who do cool stuff. But in excess. Because doing cool stuff is fun. I just wish I could do it all the time.

Just give me all the money for Disney and travel and we'll be good.

Sigh. Funny, though. The things that get under our skin.

Kindness Points: Twice today, Sienna called Arthur "kindful". He is a sweet boy, even when she bugs him and teaches him how to hit.

Neigh: Arthur was asleep between me and John Tuesday morning. He called out loudly, and clearly NEIGH!

So we went to Wheeler Farm in the morning. We met some of my cousins (and doggies) there and had fun on the playground and checking out the animals.

In the afternoon we went to the Murray Rec Center pool to enjoy the water slide. Arthur was obsessed. "More slide!" He wore me and John out.

Drive to Utah: We drove to Utah on Monday. John and I got up at 4:30 and we left at 5. We got to his parents house around 4, so the drive only took 12 hours. We made four stops, two gas, lunch, and an hour detour for the ace ice drive and 1 mile hike in Kolob Canyon, which was beautiful. Arthur took two twenty minute naps and grumped a lot, but overall was ok. The big kids didn't fight AT ALL. A Christmas miracle.

Bullseye For the Win: Sienna has been asking to play the boardwalk games at California Adventure for some time. Yesterday we finally did it. She and Dalton raced in a game where you roll balls to move your horse forward. Dalton won, but not by much. The cast member held up the prize choices and Dalton immediately turned to Sienna and asked which one she wanted. She picked a horse like Bullseye, and is now best friends with him, thanks to her sweet brother.

Poisonous Wolf Pee: Dalton came into our room at 2:30 this morning. Talking loudly.

I had a dream that Skyler and I were playing outside and we saw one of those bunnies that bites and pees poisonous wolfblood.


He didn't say "wolfblood", it was some made up word. But we couldn't remember exactly in the daylight.

I told him that rabbits don't bite and took him back to bed. "But what about other animals that pee poisonous wolfblood?"

There's no such thing! Animals pee pee. There's no poisonous animals around here anyway. Etc.

By this point, he's woken up Arthur who was then awake for an hour and a half.

I texted John when Dalton won his 25 Fly heat at his swim meet later that morning. He responded: Way to go! Must be the poison wolf pee.

Update: Some time later, Dalton told me it was like "the place we were going to stay with the water slides." Great Wolf Lodge. He was saying "wolfslodge".

Splash: All four of our kids went swimming today. Maggie and Dalton had a swim meet in the morning. They got some time improvements and Dalton even won his heat. He got disqualified (still learning the strokes!) but was so fast. Sienna also got to do the little kid race. She was the fastest and the hosting team gave all the little kids medals, and a bag with lollipops and stickers. So fun!

We went to dinner at Tender Greens and the kids ran around on the fake grass after. Sienna went to go see her "friend ocean", the fountain. Dalton and I were taking selfies and silly videos when Maggie calls me over because Arthur has fallen into the fountain. It sort of seems like that was inevitable. He was drenched - I wrung water out of his sneakers! And a spectator kindly gave us a dry diaper to put on him.

Meanwhile, Dalton has continued to take videos on my phone, so we managed to capture the moment.

Waffles: Our waffle iron died after nearly 14 years. We eat a lot of waffles, so I'm surprised it lasted this long. I got a similar waffle maker for $30, but this one makes FOUR instead of two waffles. And now I don't have to spend all of dinner making more waffles. Yay!

Neighborhood Pool Dance: I've written before about the choreography of neighborhood helpfulness (which is still going on - I went to Costco for three today). Now that my kids are on swim team, we're having the same dance at the pool. The other parents are in and out, dropping off kids. I'm mostly the only one staying the whole time, unless I leave early and get Maggie a ride home, so maybe I'm the only one who sees this. There are about 14 kids from our ward on the team.

I arrive at the pool. I let in one kid who's been dropped off, and a parent dropping off two more. (Stupid pool keys were added this year). One kid is already waiting inside without parent. I sunscreen my kids and an extra. Maggie gets dropped off by the piano teacher (also in the ward), and brings in a swimsuit for a kid who's not here yet. Other kid gets dropped off. Another parent arrives with two more kids. Mom who dropped off two comes back with baby, and an extra swim diaper for me. Snacks are shared. Toys are shared. Everyone has fun.

Food Court: The last time we were in Utah, Susan and I left the kids home with dad and grandpa and went to Sam's Club. I convinced her to get a churro and a pretzel and a coke and we sat in the food court and ate our snack. I think she thought I was a bit silly, reveling in my kid-free outing and treat (she probably thinks I'm a bit silly most of the time), but I think she secretly enjoyed that little break as much as I did.

Hawaii: We went to Hawaii! We picked the big island, because we like to do more than hang out at the beach, and there is lots to do there. We stayed in Waikoloa, at a condo, but we had pool access at the Hilton resort. As soon as we landed, we bought Dramamine for Dalton, who threw up in the car, the shuttle bus, the airplane, and the Kona airport while John was purchasing the medicine. Luckily, that was the last of illness for anyone on our trip. Next, we went to Costco and bought food for our stay. We saved a lot of money doctoring up premade stuff from Costco, and eating cereal at the condo for breakfast.

Tuesday we went to a nearby beach. We rented a double kayak and paddled around the bay. Arthur slept nearly two hours in the sand. The kayak was so fun, we all got to try it, and it was only $50 for 2 hours. Money well spent.

Wednesday was a long day. We drove around the south side of the island (the long way). We stopped at a black sand beach, which was so cool to see, but we didn't see any sea turtles. I did find a couple pieces of sea glass though. Next, we went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Maggie has a free national parks pass for fourth graders, so we got in free! We looked at the craters with the binoculars, wandered around the steam vents, and hiked in the dark through a lava tube. Pretty cool!

We went up to Hilo for John and the older kids to do a helicopter ride. They got to see lava in the crater, and also hitting the ocean.

The littles and I had just under two hours to kill in Hilo during the helicopter tour. We went to the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. Free, and awesome. I wish we'd had more time to spend. Sienna loved all the benches decorated as animals and flowers. There was also an awesome playground. Unfortunately, it was too hot to enjoy either, but it's usually rainy (Rainforest Zoo... get it?). We saw tigers, lemurs, all sorts of tropical birds, anteaters.

Then we went to the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory. As we drove through the macadamia nut orchards, I told Sienna the story of auntie Rachel getting a macadamia nut stuck in her nose. She came back with "we could get things out of our nose. We can get boogers out of our nose."

Thursday was another rest day. We went to a new beach. It had trees shading the shore, and a rope swing. We were able to see some fish swimming around while we floated on boogie boards in the warm, clear water, and some crabs in the rocks along the edge of the cove. We went to the pool just outside our condo in the evening. So convenient that we left the older kids at home playing Roblox.

Friday we drove around the north side of the island. We had malasadas, went to a few points of interest then stopped at a famous sea glass beach for me. Unfortunately the tide wasn't great, and the beach was difficult to access. But Dalt and I scrambled down and found a few pieces while the others waited in the car. Then we went to Rainbow Falls, definitely the highlight. Everyone had a blast climbing the banyan trees and playing in the shade. We also climbed over the rocks and dipped our toes into the pools at the top of the falls. Our final stop was the Mauna Kea visitor center, where we were hopping to use the solar telescope. But the whole mountain was shrouded in mist. Disappointing, but the Rainbow Falls made up for it.

Saturday we took turns doing a submarine cruise. We wanted to do zip lining but even Maggie didn't weigh enough. We picked the submarine because Sienna was big enough, and she didn't get to do the helicopter. On the girls' trip, we saw three little dolphins, a barracuda, and a lot of different fish. It was pretty cool just to be on the submarine.

In the evening we went for one last swim at the Hilton pool. Water slides, hot tub, towels we didn't have to carry to the car. We also saw a sea turtle in their lagoon.

Then we took the red eye home. Yikes. Arthur slept on the airplane floor for three hours. Everyone but Sienna crashed when we got home. It's bedtime and we're all exhausted! Hopefully we can reset after tonight. What a fun trip. John always plans the most fun things. The kids had trouble picking a favorite thing. I liked the Rainbow Falls and kayaking the best probably. But everything we did was great! Actually, maybe my favorite was John not working. Hurray for actual vacation!

New Food: May's challenge was to try 30 new recipes and I did it! We did it - several of them were John's. Other than things we've made before, a really long time ago, there were only two stand out recipes. And one of those two, we'd HAD before, even though we'd never made it. The rest were all things which at least sounded or looked good enough for me to try making them. I think those are pretty dismal stats on the recipes out there.

Everything I Do: Dalton does that thing where kids complain that mom's get Mother's Day AND a birthday.

Me: Dalt, everything I do, all day long, every day is for you.

Dalt: loooong pause. ... It's hard to think of something [that's not for him].

Morning Snuggle:

Me with Arthur's toes: Is this my breakfast? It's so tasty!
Sienna: No! It has eyeballs!

So apparently I can't nibble on Arthur, because he has eyeballs. Haha.

Sofia: Sienna has what one might call an imaginary friend. Her name is Sofia. She "only comes out for one day" but she seems to be here more lately. Sofia eats invisible food (whew) and sometimes has a bed made up for her, next to Sienna. When we play games, Sofia gets a turn. She sits in the seat next to Sienna in the car, unless Maggie is there. She likes to play outside with Sienna during the day when I'm cleaning the garage (this month's decluttering challenge).

Die!: Arthur learned to say "bye!" except he says "die!" exactly like Dalton used to.

April Challenges Update: The April challenges were to drink a smoothie every day and declutter the kids' rooms. I did ok with smoothies. About the same 75% success rate as our other challenges. Decluttering went well. I went through all the kids' clothes. I sorted the books but didn't get rid of much. And I didn't really do the toys because I'm comfortable with the point where I've gotten the toys. I cleared off their shelves, scrubbed the Little Tikes table, and did some other cleaning stuff.

Beach and Bread: Another Tuesday in the books. The first grade reading group was cancelled today and it was low tide, so I went to the beach instead. I walked along three coves in Laguna Beach looking for sea glass. Fisherman's Cove was the most successful, the same results I had last time. Lots of teeny pieces, a couple medium ones, and an interesting piece of art glass with color embedded in it. Pretty recent, but this is Laguna Beach after all.

This month's challenge is to try 30 new recipes, so when I got home I made bread, caramels, and a new salad for dinner. Cooking instead of cleaning like last week!

Day Off Deal: Tuesday is my day off, so I volunteered in Dalton's class, did five load of laundry, finished cleaning up Easter stuff, vacuumed and cleaned the carpets and stairs, cleaned the walls and doors in the kids' rooms and made a deal with myself that if I cleaned the kitchen floor I could sit around and eat candy the rest of the time (so now I'm blogging). But I didn't have to do any of the hard stuff (parenting, living life with constant interruptions). Whew.

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