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Caribbean Christmas Cruise: Cruise Notes

Day 1 - Welcome Aboard
The first day i had two Mickey ice cream bars.
We had the exciting opportunity to see the new Star Wars movie premiere on board! Our rooms were right above the main theater, so it was so close. The kids went in their pajamas. Arthur watched 1 1/2 hours of the movie, which was fantastic. he movie was great, but it was especially excited to see it on opening day.

Day 2 - At Sea
Apparently the sea is rough in the Gulf of Mexico in the winter. We had scheduled a Disney junior breakfast. Sienna threw up. Luckily she got to meet Vampirina at least. Maggie and i were also sick. But I had a fun afternoon sipping ginger ale and making up Disney ship names with Maggie on deck 4.

Day 3 - Cozumel
For our Cozumel excursion, we did a Beach break at a resort with inflatable water slides and obstacle course out in the ocean, pool with slides and tons of baby slides, all you can drink, and all you can eat, kayaking, and more. I carried Sienna on my back out to the inflatables, which she hated. Got dunked in the ocean on our way back, and then she got stung by a jellyfish. I think they were moon jellies. The paramedic sprayed it with vinegar and put some cream on it and the swelling and itching went away, and she had a strawberry daiquiri that helped the rest. Luckily, she freaked out a lot less about being stung than she did being worried about being stung.

We all went out kayaking together, three in a kayak. Other than the jellies, we saw one school of tiny silver fish. We did see some cool tropical fish right off the port when we got off the ship. John swam back out to the inflatables with the older kids, who had a lot of fun doing that. And we made it back onto the ship before it rained.

Arthur wanted to see the princesses when John mentioned it, so after dinner we saw Ariel and Belle. Belle was wearing a beautiful Christmas dress.

Maggie is ordering every seafood item on the menu, and I’m enjoying my nightly Mickey bar.

Day 4 - Grand Cayman
We took it easy this morning, with breakfast at the actual restaurant, and a couple loads of laundry. Then we dropped the little two off at kids club and headed over to Grand Cayman Island. Unfortunately, the snuba tour we had scheduled got canceled. We were able to get on a tour to Stingray City, but we sat around waiting on the hot, humid sun for an hour in the meantime. I thought the stingrays were awesome. We took a bus, then a boat, out there. We stood around in waist deep water, snorkeling with them, petting them, and I even got to hold one. It felt like a heavy slippery dog trying to dance with me.

We barely made it back in time to clean up for Pirate Mardi Gras dinner. Arthur was obsessed with Tiana at the restaurant. It was adorable. He was concerned that she lost a feather from her boa. She said to him, “What’s your name, honey?”

After dinner, we waited in line to meet Pirate Chip and Dale, and Pirate Mickey. The Pirate Mickey family picture is one of my favorites from the whole trip.

Day 5 - Jamaica
Christmas Even in Jamaica! We split up on this day, so John could take Maggie horseback riding in the Caribbean Sea. The younger kids and I went to Dunn' River Falls, where we climbed up a 160 foot waterfall that empties into the Caribbean Sea. Our group all held hands in a line and there was a guide (and some dads) to help, otherwise I never would have made it with Sienna and Arthur. It was so cool though, hiking up a waterfall in the middle of the jungle. Maggie and John also did that as part of their tour.

The other thing we did was take a chair lift up Mystic Mountain. It started raining in the middle of the ride. Fun times. Luckily we were wearing swim suits, and already drenched from the waterfall. We didn't have time to do any of the Mystic Mountain activities besides eat. We barely made it back to the boat in time as it was. John and Maggie did not. Their bus was over an hour late, and that was with a police escort.

We got to greet Santa and enjoy a brief snow shower. That night Arthur wouldn’t go to sleep. When John and I got back from working out/hot tubbing late at night, the room was a mess and the first thing he said was, “I ate Santa’s cookie.”

Day 6 - Christmas at Sea
Santa came, of course, hiding the kids small presents around our rooms. After that we went to wait in line to see him. While we waited in line, John took the kids to gingerbread cookie decorating.

We went to an adult brunch that morning, with all sorts of delicious things. I ate so much food. That afternoon we saw Frozen musical and Dalton went to the first of many magic workshops.

Day 7 - Last Sea Day
In the morning, we went to the pool and enjoyed the waterslides to ourselves before it got crowded. Then we saw Frozen 2 in the packed movie theater. John and I continued out gym/hot tub dates at night. So convenient.

After the cruise, we spent a few days in Houston. We first went to the Texas City dike for look for sea glass. The beach was covered in trash, some of which was glass, some of which was frosted. Kind of disappointed. Nathan and Ashley came down and we stopped at Buc-ee's on the way to their house, for lunch and treats. We spent most of our time with their family binge-watching The Mandalorian, playing Boggle, and eating tacos.

One day John took the older kids to see Jumanji 2 with his brother, so Ashley and I took the little kids to explore downtown Houston. We went to Penzey's spices, a cool nursery, saw some murals and went to a fun park, after the kids voted against the aquarium. We also had more tacos (yes) and fancy ice cream.

The last part of our trip was spent with our good friends, the Walkers. It was so great to see them. We took a long walk, played Big Boggle, and stayed up way too late talking. The kids got along terrifically as well.

Being 7: Sienna's biggest problem in life is that she can't decide between being a horse, a dog, or a cat.

How to Make a Friend: I took Arthur to the park before Sienna got out of school (we were both a little bored on the first day back). When we got there he told me he wasn’t going to play with any other kids because they weren’t his friends. Five minutes later he came up to me and said “can you teach me how to make a friend?” So sweet. I said “sure! You say “hi, my name is Arthur. Can I play too?’” He stared at me. I added “do you want me to hold your hand while you do it?” Of course he did, and of course it was the kid with the sand toys. He followed his script and she said “ok. Here’s a sand castle, and here’s a shovel.” Instant friend. Being four is great.

DP: Sienna has started calling Kringle “DP”. It stands for Donut Pizza because Kringle is a pastry and it’s shaped in a ring and therefore, vaguely, pizza. She’s been determined about it, though, so it’s hilariously stuck.

Movie Night: Tonight after the kids went to bed, I made caramel corn and John and I walked down to the neighbors’ in our pajamas, with blankets wrapped around us, to watch a movie together. We watched Clueless, which was hilarious. We did this a while ago and watched Pitch Perfect. An excellent use and proof of our friendship.

Meetings: Me, with a meeting or event every night this week: I am regretting some of my commitments.

John: Like your job? Room parent?

Me: No, not those ones.

Hah. I am enjoying my 3-hour-a-week job a lot. It feels like a good use of my time. Am also enjoying cookbook club, Tressa and her belated birthday celebrations, but it’s all a bit much on top of figuring out my new calling (and doing both callings all day long last Sunday, with the Great to be 8 and ward conference). Also, room parent in fourth grade is so easy.

Busy Break (for my teeth at least): When I had babies at home, going to the dentist felt like a relaxing break. You get to lie down, listen to quiet music, maybe do some light reading. Today was so busy, that my dentist appointment - shoved between buying Arthur new glasses, and picking up three kids from Primary activities (and trying to convince primary activity leaders that they want to keep doing it) - felt like that again.

Arthur at 4: A very delayed well visit for Arthur, before TK registration. While waiting, he read a Disney look and find. “Mom, it’s bamboo.” Where? “Right there!” *points to Bambi.*

He is 60% height, 20% weight, and adorable. Also, I was a good mom to my left-handed child and made sure the tetanus shot got in his right arm.

On Time:
John: I don’t know which prayer I’m saying.
Me: We’d better be on time, then.
John: As opposed to all the other times we’ve been late? Twice in 8 years?
Me: You think we’ve been late two times?
John: Well, there was that race [that made us drive all over town to get across to the chapel]. And we waited for Jodi one time.
Me: I don’t think that made us late.

Waffle Station: I’ve arrived. I made waffles for dinner tonight. Maggie made the batter. We cooked them in my family-sized waffle maker that makes four squares at once. We all sat down together and I HAD TO MAKE NO ONE’S WAFFLE FOR THEM. The girls made their own and cut them up with scissors. Dalton made his own and ate it in a giant piece off his fork. Arthur dipped his in whipped cream. (I did scoop the whipped cream for him, but that’s less than I usually have to do for him with most other meals.) it was glorious.

On a side note, Arthur ate a square of waffle for dinner, and nearly a pound of strawberries.

No Treat Nen: Since we’re doing no treats, I can’t have marshmallow cereal, and French toasties and daddy toast are kind of treats. So i guess I have to have a poptart for breakfast!

I let her have a poptart, because I’m trying to get rid of them. Also we’re on the tail end of a spending freeze and don’t have much else to eat.

Parenting Wins: Arthur is telling his swim coach all about the cookie he had for breakfast and the PG-13 movie he watched. And doing an awesome job learning to swim.

Bath Time: I’m not sure what is happening in the bath, but it’s extremely loud, Arthur keeps fake crying, and Sienna keeps yelling “for humanity!” and “not in my town!”

Date Afternoon: For Valentine’s Day, John and I used a Seasons52 gift card we got at Christmas. We had yummy food and tiny little desserts, then walked around SouthCoast looking at stuff we would never buy.

Room Parent 201: I recently said “room parent in 4th grade is easy” but apparently I’ve been paired with a flaky person as the actual room parent so I have to do all the room parenting stuff, but I have to do it last minute and with no credit. So annoying. This is the third time this has happened to me (last year I insisted on being the only room parent, and did everything myself and it was great).

Penguins: Sienna just launched into a scientific lecture about penguins, except she was saying “pain ones” and I seriously didn’t know what she was talking about for a minute.

Pet vs. Baby: Maggie has started saying “we should get a pet!” Every time she sees an animal. Arthur has begun countering my “no” with “we should get a baby then!”

Too Cool: Mom I used to be a nice and friendly girl, but now I’m turning into a cool girl. Sometimes when you grow up that happens.

Sienna is definitely the coolest person in our family.

Fashion Sense: John, picking out birthday presents for Maggie with the other kids, asks Sienna’s opinion on some clothes.
Dad, I can’t help you with this. I do not understand Maggie’s fashion sense.

CORONAVIRUS: In the last 24 hours, Disneyland, Disney world, Disney CRUISE, got cancelled, our broadway tickets, all church meetings and activities, all city recreation programs (just when Maggie was enjoying volleyball), and everything else fun. Just work and school left. Except for preschool. Too fun. (Arthur’s preschool is through the city recreation program).

Captain’s Log, Day One: In an effort to keep the kids from freaking out over a pandemic, and killing each other over social distancing measures (oh look, school is also cancelled), John and I decided to plan something fun to do every day. Today we picked up pizza and See’s candy and had a picnic at the park. The kids ran around playing with each other nicely. They also played well at home. John started reading a chapter book with Sienna. Dalton and Arthur played Mario Party on the Wii together. Maggie did animation on her phone. John and I took two walks. One day down.

Day 2 of Social Distancing: We went to the hot tub this morning with the whole family. We thought we might get rained on, but the day kept getting nicer and nicer. John printed out some super Mario coloring pages and colored with Arthur. The boys had fun on the Wii; the girls had fun playing outside. John and I went for a three mile walk with the neighbors. Then we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids with popcorn.

Homeschoolers: First day off school. I made the kids a list of stuff to do including some learning activities, piano practice, chores etc. It took them about an hour to get it all done. Dalton and I baked cookies. We went on a family scooter ride at Mason Regional Park, during which it rained, even though I planned around the supposed weather. Then we goofed off the rest of the day.

Emergency Distance Learning: I am not cut out for homeschooling. I already knew that. The kids received their assignments today, through three different methods. Maggie was able to access and complete most of her stuff on her own. Dalton needed help logging into a few things. I had to sit and do Sienna’s with her. I’m sure if I’d printed it out I could have handed it to her to do, but I am not interested in printed full color pages for a 2 minute math worksheet.

John read with Sienna, they all did piano, and played in the garage (we moved the cars so they could have some space - we’re not supposed to play with friends anymore, and Sienna has a cough anyway. I finished a 750 piece puzzle. I need to get Arthur ping more activities tomorrow, he colored a little today, and played of course, but was otherwise on screens most of the day.

In other news, Leonard moved to the place they bought, John and the older kids met a pet dog candidate, and there was an earthquake in Utah.

The Beach is Open: Until it’s not. The entire state of California was put in lockdown yesterday. On essential things like food shopping, pharmacies, essential business, and “taking your kids outside” are allowed. So today I took the youngest three outside at the beach. The little two ran around and had a blast playing in puddles. Dalt and I gave each other exercise challenges. His were all thing like “throw the ball in the air and spin around and catch it.” It was great to get out, and let John work in peace and Maggie catch up on school work in peace. She has been sick and slept all day yesterday.

Weekend: What even is a weekend, when you can literally go nowhere? John wasn’t working, and there weren’t new school assignments at least. We went to the beach on Saturday, and it was much more crowded than when I went on Friday. It was fine at the beach, plenty of space, but people weren’t being distant on the sidewalks etc.

Sunday, I made pretzels, yogurt, and worked on my 1000 piece puzzle, and we got a dog.

Stay at Home:

Me: Maggie can we take your school water bottle out of the fridge?
Maggie: No, I need it.
Me: For school in five weeks?
Maggie: No, if we go somewhere, I need it cold.
Me: Well, we’re not going anywhere!

School cancellation has been extended through May 1. Fun times. I cleaned out the fridge for lunch, and had to run the dishwasher twice today. Feeding six people all day, every day, is no joke.

School’s Out for Summer: A couple days ago, the California governor announced that schools will not reopen this school year, and we’ll be doing online learning for another two months. We’ve been enjoying spring break, but hopefully it will be nice to get back to the new normal.

Doggies is Peoples: Arthur just gave me a math problem. There’s six people and then we buyed a dog. How many people do we have now?

Home All Day: Three years ago (three years ago) when decluttering, I put away all my silverware except ten of each. I think I even got rid of it the next year. Because I never needed it. Until now. With six people eating at least three meals a day at home, we’re definitely going through silverware and plates. Plus John has been cooking real food for breakfast a lot.

Home All Day: Three years ago (three years ago) when decluttering, I put away all my silverware except ten of each. I think I even got rid of it the next year. Because I never needed it. Until now. With six people eating at least three meals a day at home, we’re definitely going through silverware and plates. Plus John has been cooking real food for breakfast a lot.

Three Things: I started doing something I saw on Instagram, where you pick three things to accomplish each day. Some people are using quarantine to start enormous projects, but I have significantly less time these days. But I also want to make sure I keep exercising, keep on top of the housework, and have fun. So my three things are one each of those.

Today: Pilates, wash towels, dye Easter eggs. Success.

I also found that I have to plan what exercise I’m going to do, or it doesn’t happen.

Tradition: We weren’t able to host our annual flashlight egg hunt this year. Despite, quarantine, it was pouring rain all week, so even my social distancing ideas didn’t work out. We did a hunt in the house after dark, and I gave away most of the dozens of prizes I had already bought.

It’s Quiet Uptown: Tonight I realized we don’t hear the Disneyland fireworks every night at 9:40 anymore. (Obviously.) And also no cars.

The lack of traffic is astonishing. And the clearing of the pollution all over the world. It makes me wonder if Mother Earth is just saying “stay home and enjoy your families, and let me breathe.

Here, Boy!: One of the highlights of getting a dog is listening to Dalton use his baby voice to talk to him.

Dog Treats: Wally is a great dog. He is so shy that he spent the first three weeks mostly hanging out on Maggie’s bed, and still prefers to hide out there. But he’s started following us around the house a little and begging for car rides and sitting under the table while we eat.

I noticed he came downstairs while I was cleaning up after dinner.
Me: Good thing we don’t have to worry about Way eating that goldfish (cracker on the floor).
*walks over to the sink and back*
Wally: *Eats goldfish cracker as I’m turning around*
Me: Huh.

Time Flies: Today we took the family on a walk around north lake in Woodbridge. John and I used to walk around this lake when we lived in Costa Mesa. When Maggie was a baby, and now she bikes by it every day on her way to school. (If school were still a thing). She was in her element, showing us the difference between the 18 adolescent Egyptian geese, who were babies last time she was here, and the adults, and pointing out other types of birds, and baby rabbits, and goose eggs, and turtles. It was a fun walk. Wally also enjoyed it. It was crowded, but there were fewer bikes than I expected.

Full House on Quarantine: I just took something out to the car and when I opened the door, Dalton waved to me from the backseat. “Just getting some alone time,” he said with a smile.

Plan C: Today we headed to the beach as soon as everyone woke up. Dog hours are only until 10, and it was supposed to be hot and crowded. When we got there, before 8:00, it was still foggy and some people thought it was too cold. Dalton latched onto a half-dig hole, and I was enjoying the beach, but we left after 20 minutes to do a paved trail in Laguna instead. Except after we drove there we realized all trails in Laguna are closed. So then we drove home. After that enormous time in the car, we changed and walked a bit of our trail, except further from our house. It was a nice walk with a tunnel and lots of trees.

Also today, we did the drive through farmers market at the Great Park. It took nearly an hour and we spent $125. We got oranges, strawberries, eggs, kettle corn, empanadas and chimichurri, tamales, dog treats, beef jerky, and hummus and pita. Yum!

Fit: For the last year or so, I’ve been attending a dance cardio class with some ladies from the other ward that meets in our building. Now that we’re all stuck at home, we’ve been doing Zoom classes. It’s been keeping me sane to get some exercise, and see people I know for a little bit.

Quarantine Haiku #1:
We chose SoCal for
Beach, parks, sun, pool, Disneyland
What’s even the point?

Applesauce Update: Arthur still loves applesauce. Now he traces the letters (a p p l e s a u c e) before eating and he likes to refill the applesauce with air by blowing into it when he’s halfway done.

Feeling Glad: That we got to take our trip to San Francisco to see The Cursed Child. That John got on Rise of the Resistance before Disneyland closed. And that we already taken our kids to New York City because that may never happen again.

Highlights:
Monday: It rained. I took the boys to chick fil a for lunch and we had a picnic in the parking lot.

Tuesday: John and I went for an evening walk on Laguna main beach, and picked up gelato to bring home for dessert.

Wednesday: I took the kids, neighbor i was babysitting, and dog to Irvine Park where we sat in my new inflatable hammock, climbed, trees, ran around, and enjoyed not being bothered by people enforcing rules.

Thursday: We spent an hour at Laguna beach with the younger three. Then we had dinner out with our friends, and fluffernutter blondies for dessert (made by John and Dalton).

Friday: I went for a nice morning hike with a friend.

Joshua Tree: Our impromptu trip out to Joshua Tree was pretty much the exact opposite of the carefully planned, kid-free vacation to London and Amsterdam that John and I were supposed to be on right now. We barely researched, the traffic sucked, kids threw up, we made a masked detour to Walmart for new clothes, and dinner was several hours late. But for a few hours, I forgot about coronavirus, and we enjoyed rocks, sunset, and stars, and fresh air.

We also went with our neighbors, which is not technically allowed, and we don’t even care.

Walrus Pup: Arthur: What’s Wally’s nickname
Me: Walrus
Arthur, two weeks later still: Hi Walrus!

Helpmeet: The other week on our Joshua Tree trip, John commented, “I can see why people don’t like vacationing, if they have to plan and do it all theirselves.” When I pointed out that he plans all of our trips himself, he said, “yeah but I don’t have to do all the packing and meal planning etc.” I thought it was nice of him to appreciate my “invisible effort” for our vacations.

Maturity: Our first full day at the cabin (out of nine), I asked Maggie to unload the dishwasher. She started saying “I still have to do that? But we’re on vacation!” And then caught herself, laughed, and unloaded the dishes.

Cabin Daze: We spent nine nights at the cabin and did not get tired of it. We searched for hikes in American Fork canyon, and did one every day. We hiked 26 miles, over 20 with the kids, during that time, and saw gorgeous mountain views all over. We got caught in a thunderstorm and pouring rain the first day, huge hail the second day, and the third day we snuggled at home while it snowed. Then we enjoyed fresh snowy views the next few days. The kids played pool and Wii, ran around outdoors, we snuggled in hammocks and read and relaxed. Wally also, loved hiking. Utah mountains are beautiful in the spring and there was green everywhere. It was glorious.

Simplify: Me: I’m only bringing four outfits, packing more than one gray shirt is silly.
Me: wears gray shirt while traveling.
Me: wears the two gray shirts the entire time.

I’ve been wearing the same gray v-neck pocket tees nearly every day for a few years now. No regrets. Also, no one has noticed. Also, also, I see other people wearing them all the time, because they’re from Target.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.”

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.

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 wildflowers 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??"

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.”

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Rest In Peace, Jim: My sweet father-in-law finally moved on from this difficult life. He was always so good about getting down on the floor and playing with the grandkids. My kids enjoyed playing pool, marble hockey, chess, Wii, uno, and more with him. They loved his Donald Duck voice.

This summer, when we spent a lot of time in Utah, we enjoyed a lot of meals around the table with him. It’s been many years since he made such an effort to get to the table while everyone else was still eating, but we had a lot of enjoyable family meals this summer. He was also very appreciative of the food I made, which made me feel good.

We Moved: Covid finally drove us to do one thing we probably should have done years ago - we finally moved to a bigger house. We moved less than half a mile away to a house nearly twice as big. The older two kids get their own room, we have an office/exercise room, and just more space in general. The kitchen has smooth countertops. There’s an open stairway so Wally doesn’t feel trapped. The laundry is upstairs. There’s lots of storage space. There’s a driveway and we can park on the street. There’s a big patio and bbq in the back. We are slowly getting pictures hung, adding a few pieces of furniture and otherwise making it home.

There are a few complaints - the 5 button and the start for the lower oven don’t work. The stove igniter clicks randomly. The neighbors smoke and try to take our parking spot. But overall it’s been a great change.

Dinner and Scoot: Today we scootered to the nearby plaza for dinner. It was a quick ride, the temperature was great, the food was delicious. A nice evening spent with the family.

Politics 2020: I don’t often say much about politics, but I feel the need to complain about what a baby our current president is. Politics aside, I could never vote for Trump. He’s a terrible leader, so selfish and narcissistic, he is divisive, he treats people abominably, has no self-control, is entitled and rude. I’ve been embarrassed about him for over 4 years. I want a presidential president, one with an aide handle his or her social media accounts, please. Someone to unite and lead, or at least not spout off and embarrass. So much cringe.

All Night Long : Arthur, giving me a big hug before bed time: “I’ll miss you for 12 hours.”

So sweet. Also, 12 hours? Yeah right. Even if he miraculously sleeps in his own be the whole night.

Giving Thanks for Snow: This morning we woke up to a surprise 1/2” of snow on the ground. We went outside to play around for a bit, and ended up taking a spontaneous sledding trip to the park. We were practically in our pajamas, and four out of the five sleds ended up with broken handles, and we were the only people there - silly Californians enjoying a tiny bit of snow. But we had a blast, and got just as much speed as we do when there’s 6 inches. Wally wasn’t a big fan, but he tolerated it. Once Sienna started crying about how cold and wet she was, we headed home. It was a fun, impromptu, pre-breakfast, Thanksgiving activity. Next time: snow pants.

California Dreamin’: We are back from a trip to Utah for Thanksgiving, and took full advantage of everything California (currently) has to offer. Aka sunshine. We took the kids hiking at Quail Hill. We scootered and rollerbladed and played with chalk and frisbees in our awesome, big driveway. We enjoyed our outdoor space in the hammocks, and John set up his new weight bench to workout outside. We went for a walk around the neighborhood. John and I biked to a nearby shopping center and ate dinner outside. It was a glorious sunshiny day.

Our Teenager: Arthur calls Maggie “our teenager” or sometimes “my sister who is a teenager.”

A P P L E S A U C E: Arthur has officially learned how to open his own applesauce. Considering how many he eats, and how many I refuse to open for him, it’s surprising it took so long. He has one when he wakes up, in the car after school, before bed, and whenever else he can convince someone to open one for him. Still obsessed.

Christmas Spirit: This afternoon we went to the church to record some Christmas songs we are singing for the (virtual) ward Christmas program. On our way home, we stopped at a stoplight next to a car with a Christmas tree on top. The driver of the car waved excitedly when he saw John looking at him. We spent the rest of the way home trying to figure out if we knew them. We did not, but the whole whole the car is following behind us because they live on our street. Weird, funny coincidence.

12/12 Covid Baptism: Sienna was baptized this morning. In California purple tier, religious gatherings are allowed outdoors, so our options were the ocean, or the bishop’s hot tub. John, having baptized in the ocean previously, was not at all sad about the hot tub choice. We had our best friends there, and Sienna’s little neighbor friend and her mom, and the Bishop. That was it. The hot tub was a big in ground one, and the water went up to her chin. After the confirmation we had temple sugar cookies, and that’s it. No fancy talks or anything, but it was a memorable experience.

Francer: I was just reading some old Sienna blog posts to her and we saw this one about the Very Real Reindeer And remembered she and I just had an argument on the way to gymnastics on Monday about whether or not there was a reindeer named Francer.

A Lot: Arthur has been alive for approximately 158 million seconds. In case he asks.

Nativity: Last night, we got together with our (Covid bubble) friends and did a Nativity play. This isn't something we usually do, but it is their tradition and they invited us to participate. We brought lots of our India clothing for dressing up, and John's shepherd outfit from Israel. Arthur was a cute little shepherd with a stuffed llama, Dalton wore John's India outfit and was a king. Maggie was also a king, with my silk sari tied around her waist, and Sienna was Mary with a nice scarf over her hair. John played the piano and we sang lots of carols in between the narrative. The whole thing was lovely.

‘Scovering: Arthur and Sienna came in from playing in Grandma’s backyard without coats on. “We’ve been scovering. Sienna been scovering the ice, I been scovering the snow. I scovered a lot.”

Nune : I asked Sienna if she wanted a bath or a shower and she spelled “N U N E.”

Crash: The other day, Arthur fell in the car and whacked his face on the center console. There was a lot of blood. One of his teeth got pushed back, and he refused to close his mouth. He sat on the couch drooling for three hours until his emergency dental visit. The dentist numbed him up, pushed the tooth back in place, and Arthur went home super swollen. By the time we had his favorite beef stroganoff for dinner, he could sort of eat, and was starving from not eating all day. Once the swelling went down, the tooth mostly went the rest of the way back into place. He has a mysterious black eye now, several days later, I assume from that. Poor kid.

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