Saturday, August 29, 2009

Unplugged in the 8-3-1

Thursday was Back To School Night. I visited the kids' classes while they played on the playground. As I gathered my chickies (like a good Mother Hen does) I noticed a lot of noise in the air. Small planes and helicopters dotted the sky. A fire had broken out in some distant hills and water was being transported to douse the blaze.

As we were driving through town I noticed how dark everything seemed to be. Dusk was approaching and no streetlamps had yet come on. The insides of stores were dark and traffic lights were blinking, if they were even working at all.

We found out later that a helicopter hit some power lines causing outtages throughout many cities. Over 33,000 were left without power for several hours. I don't know how the other 32,995 people handled the situation but this family of 5 took advantange of our "unplugged" status.

While lighting the candles throughout the house we talked about how electricity has not always been right at our fingertips. We read books by candlelight and played with our flashlights. The kids loved it. The dog didn't. He was restless and acting very protective.

We decided to go outside, sit on the trampoline, and just look at the stars. We cuddled on blankets and enjoyed simple conversation. Some of our neighbors were playing basketball in the dark. Some were enjoying their outdoor firepits. And some were lighting off fireworks. (That's when the dog stopped being protective and tucked his tail between his legs and bolted inside... breaking the screen in the process. So much for being protective. Fireworks are his kryptonite)

We knew the kids were too amped up with this unordinary night to settle down and hit the sack so we decided to go somewhere. (Even though it was a school night.) We didn't have a plan, we just drove. It was very eerie outside. Everything was quiet and dark.

We drove back through town. Our headlights were the only thing slicing through the darkness. We were surprised to find that the city's "Movies Under the Stars" was still going on. It's a new thing this year where they show a family friendly show outdoors. Everyone brings their lawnchairs and blankets and watches the movie on a big blow-up screen. We hadn't attended a single one all summer so we parked the car then parked our family on the grass and enjoyed watching some of Hairspray. They were running it by generator and warned us that once the gas ran out then that was it, it would be time to go home. After about 20 minutes the streetlamps started humming and glowing to life. It was a bit disappointing really. It seemed as if the magic of the night was slowly lifting, evaporating away as the light disrupted the pure darkness. We ignored it for as long as we could. The restored light woke up the responsible parents in us and we decided to get our babies home and into their beds. A few of them didn't even make it that far. They fell asleep in the car during the short 10 minute ride home.

It might sound silly but there really was something magical about this night. It seemed that the lack of instant gratification via satellite television and internet access had brought us back to the basics. A feeling of hearth, home, and family replaced the everyday distractions. A sense of community was discovered as we groaned along with strangers as the electricy brought reality along with it. And it was a good mini-lesson for me about being prepared for the unexpected.

I'm sure that helicopter pilot felt pretty bad about knocking out entire grids of electricity but I would tell him (or her) not to worry about it too much. In fact, I would thank her (or him) for providing my family with an unforgettable evening.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No offense, but.......

You know you're a Californian if.......

.... your 6 year old wants you to watch him play Mexican jumprope.

(You're also a Californian if you wouldn't be caught dead wearing socks under Teva sandals)

Photo taken from internet. These are NOT my headless, poorly dressed children!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is there a pill for this?.....

This is a first for me. For the past 5 years I have looked forward to each and every first day of school. It's always been a relief to get back on a schedule -- a consistent bedtime, more homemade dinners, actual baths with shampoo & soap rather than counting on the cholorine of the pool to cleanse my dirty children. But this year I am experiencing some sadness over their return to school.

Maybe it's because my baby girl will be completing her last year of elementary school. Or maybe because I now have to go 6 1/2 hours straight without hearing Beau's giggles. And it's quite possible that I'm sharing some of Reef's separation anxiety from his two favoritest playmates... who are really two of my favoritest playmates, too.

But my kids were super stoked to head back to their institute of learning. Reef keeps asking about pre-school. When does it start? Why can't I go today? Why can't I just go to kindergarten now? This is his last school year home with me and I am very reluctant to send him to any pre-school at all!! He'll get sucked into the school system soon enough. Hot Wheels, Teck Decks, and skateboards will have to be traded in for days full of reading, writing, and playground bullies.

I'm jealous of my kids' teachers because they get to spend the entire day with my kids. I'm quite sad over this whole thing, actually. And although I'm not crying in a dark corner listening to depressing songs by The Cure, I'd be lying if I said that my inner child is not on the floor kicking, screaming, and chanting "Heck no, they can't go! Heck no, they can't go!"

And then the thought occurs to me. They don't have to go. You can keep them home! They can sleep in and snuggle with you all morning. You can continue going on daily outtings. You don't have to be on anyone's schedule but your own! It would be like an eternal summer. But you know what that's called?


And suddenly I'm not so blue anymore. As Mercedes' 5th grade teacher so wisely stated yesterday, "Honesty is the best policy..... insanity is a better defense." I do honestly miss my kids but I think I'm just suffering from a bout of temporary insanity. Sorry for dragging you along.

Is it 3:05, yet?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DO's and DONT's

Some helpful DO's and DON'Ts of vactioning

1) DON'T expect a welcome full of ceremonious fanfare. You might have to descend a flight of stairs directly off of the plane straight into sweltering heat and heavy air. No gradual acclamation to the climate here, people. Those pseudo-smiling flight attendants rush you off that jet faster than you can say "BUH-BYE"

2) DON'T avoid daily visits to the gym just because you're on vacation....

........ especially when you're eatting delectable dishes such as this every night.

(Stone Bowl at Guacamaya's)

3)DO make sure the dusty, dirt road to your surf destination truly is deserted before blanket-shielding your friend on the side of the road while she goes to the bathroom.

Note the truck in the background. It came outta nowhere!!

4) DO bribe the locals. They are very particular about who visits their beaches and surfs their breaks. Payoffs accepted in the form of Chile Cheetos, Spicy Nacho Doritos, and littered cardboard boxes.

And beware of the super friendly ones. They always have a hidden agenda. They may seem harmless enough......
..... but they'll end up taking you for a ride.

5)DO utilize the pool as often as possible. Just be prepared to save a drunk old lady who comes to do water aerobics and ends up drowning. (Yes, this really happened. No, she didn't die.)

(This is the pool at Las Olas and is not the location of the drowning drama.)

6) DO vacation with goofy friends. DON'T pay attention to crazy looks from strangers. DO milk inside jokes for all they're worth.

7) DO body surf. DON'T worry about all the sand. All body parts need to be exfoliated at least once in your lifetime.
8) DO enjoy a week off of your Mommy & Daddy duties.

9) DON'T forget to blog about about your vacation.

10) DO repeat annually.