Friday, May 29, 2009

They're Not Kidding

When people talk about the "rainy season" in Florida, they are not kidding. It has rained (and I don't mean drizzle, I mean torrential downpours and a constantly flooded driveway) every day for more than two weeks. And the forecast shows no sign of slowing. I guess it really will last for an entire season.
So what do you do with a toddler with so much rain? Today's options included:

-Creating our own "Wipeout" obstacle course in the living room

-Taking advantage of a break in the rain to splash at the park

(Before you accuse me of being a wimp for waiting until it wasn't raining to go out and splash in puddles, remember that I get wet plenty. I get wet walking to and from our mommy and me class; I get wet walking to the grocery store; I get wet very frequently getting Stellan in and out of his car seat. I don't feel like I have to go out of my way to spend more time in the rain, thank you very much.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The (Just A Bit Past) Dawn Of A New Day

Toddlers must really hate blinds. I say this because our toddler has wreaked havoc on ours. He has broken our kitchen and living room hanging blinds beyond repair. And he absolutely destroyed the Venetian blinds near his crib in his bedroom. They look like a giant beast tried to eat them and gave up halfway through.
If we weren't quite as destitute as we are, we might replace them. But since we anticipate moving perhaps as soon as the new year, we're waiting until we have to replace them to appease our landlords. However, the situation in Stellan's room has become untenable. As you may be aware (especially if you're an astrogeek like me), as we move toward summer solstice, the sun rises about 2 minutes earlier each day. And in Stellan's room, since there (functionally speaking) are no blinds, he's up and at 'em to greet the rising sun enthusiastically a little earlier each day. We have been less enthused.
So last night we decided to take matters into our own hands. We took down the partially masticated blinds, bought a shower curtain rod and hung some old bed sheets up. The result this morning was dramatic. We got to sleep in about 2 hours later than normal. It has been a great day!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

MOCA? More Like NO-CA!

Today we had the worst museum experience of our lives. And it really pains me to say this, because we like museums. We have been taking advantage of Museum Month in Miami, and today we thought we'd try the Museum of Contemporary Art. Here's the play-by-play of why it sucked.
1. We got there a few minutes after opening. On our way in, we saw they have a ticker with the number of visitors they've had; it said 485. Kev was not optimistic, but I was still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Upon our arrival, we were told that they were still starting up some of the displays and that we would need to stay in the gift shop for a few more minutes. Not exactly a kid-friendly gift shop, and Stellan let us know he noticed.
2. When we did finally get in, we quickly noticed all 5 of the security guards. Even though it's a 9,000 square foot open gallery, they all felt the need to hover no further than 20 feet at any given time. We felt like criminals. They didn't have anything to tell us about the exhibits, they just followed us around very closely and suspiciously. Did I mention we were the only visitors in the whole museum?
3. Lots of very dark (almost no lighting) cave-like exhibits did not go well with Stellan.
4. Their current exhibition is called "Convention." From their website: "Convention takes as its premise the predominance of mega cultural events such as conventions, festivals, fairs, expos and other social gatherings in an international society." They recreated a few living rooms in which locals have hosted salons and had many digital displays with video footage of gathering places. In the center of the wide-open gallery, there was a very large raised black surface that looked like a dance floor. I thought, "That's an interesting juxtaposition; especially in a place like Miami, many people do convene on dance floors." Stellan decided to give it a shot when several of the guards rushed over (that didn't take long, they were only 10 feet away) to angrily tell us to get him off the stage. Stage? Where did it say that? Where did it say that this was not part of the exhibit but an actual stage they needed to keep in pristine condition? That is a serious lack of labeling; they let you sit in the living rooms, walk on the carpet samples from different conference centers at NY hotels, so why wouldn't we assume we could walk across the stage in the dead center of the gallery?
5. We tried, but Stellan was pretty much over it. On our way out, we prompted him to thank one of the guards who was standing in our pathway out. He [the guard] suddenly got friendly on us, and tried to coax Stellan into enjoying the exhibits. He was the only positive thing that happened during our visit, but it was too little, too late.
All in all, we lasted about 20 minutes. It was a good thing that we didn't pay, because I would have demanded our money back. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

You Told Me So

My good friend Vivian has tried to convince on multiple occasions of the superior quality of the television show "Arrested Development." Her cajoling fell on deaf ears for a very long time. Well, I'm publicly announcing that she was right. I've just finished watching Season 1 on Hulu, and she was right - it's hilarious. I'm so sad that I didn't listen sooner. Any other picks, Viv?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is It Possible?

Stellan and Kevin just left for youth group. Elsa's dad, also a youth group leader, called on her behalf to make sure Stellan was coming to keep her company. As he left, Stellan ran up to give me a kiss. He walked out the door, with his hands full of balls and toys of course, and headed for the car. As he opened his own car door, waved at me and said, "Love you! Bye!" he sounded so grown up. He's not even a young toddler anymore, he's pushing two years old. Sometimes it's easy to forget and just think of him as my baby boy, but these grown up moments happen more and more. I'm so proud of the smart, funny and (very) energetic boy he's turning into, so I'm generally happy to trade in my baby for my big boy. But it is possible for my heart to swell and break at the same time?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Conflict of Interest

This morning Stellan and I were on our way to Elsa's house in the car and I was listening to my local NPR station, WLRN, as I often do. It was the top of the hour and before the news update, I heard the sponsor voice say, "Funding for NPR is made possible by EBSCO." Whaaa?
You see, my moms work for a publishing company, and their division was bought out by EBSCO two years ago with promises that the current employees would have many years ahead of them with EBSCO. A few weeks ago, it was announced that the honeymoon was over and that layoffs would begin that next week, eventually closing down the entire division by July. That's right, my moms will be losing their jobs with EBSCO in the very near future and joining the throngs of the unemployed.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to support public radio. When we're not living off student loans, I will be a regular contributor to public radio. But it just makes me wonder how they justify spending that kind of money on NPR when valued employees are being let go. How many layoffs have James D. and Catherine T. MacArthur made recently?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sing-a-long Time

No, Stellan's not singing along, he's waiting for you to sing along. Well, until he sees something shiny.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Disney World Was On The Way Home

While we were in Orlando, we decided to make a real trip of it and go to Disney World. No, we didn't go to each of the gazillions of parks and attractions. We had dinner at Downtown Disney on Monday night and on Tuesday we went to the Magic Kingdom. Our Cali friends (Amy, Christy and Jen) were willing to sacrifice a day of their trip to join us, so we all went together.
All in all, Stellan was a champ. He had his moments, but they didn't last long (usually just until the ride started or we gave him food - definitely his father's son) and they weren't often. It did help that we took things at Stellan's pace and at Stellan's level. He even got to play at the Winnie the Pooh playground while most of the big kids did the roller coasters. Also helpful was Jen's wheelchair - she tore some ligaments in her foot, so we used the wheelchair to full advantage. We didn't wait more than 15 or 20 minutes for anything all day. We had a blast, finished the park a little after 6, ate some dinner back at the condo and headed for home.
The next morning, Kevin started his summer semester, Stellan and I got back to our regular schedule and we all nursed Disney hangovers for a couple of days. I hate it when real life overtakes a good vacation.

P.S. I hate the "new management" Tiki Room. I'm glad I can still find the old-school version at Disneyland, because the new one was a big disappointment.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shuttle Launch

As you know, I'm an astrogeek. So when we moved to Florida, I made Kevin promise me we'd go see a shuttle launch. With some good buddies from Cali coming out to Florida for this particular launch, we joined them. Well, sort of. They let us crash at their condo in Orlando, but we parted ways early Monday morning. They went on a cool tour and saw it from closer than we did. We decided Stellan wouldn't do well on a grown-up paced tour, so we just drove along the coast and found a spot with lots of people waiting by the water. It turned out to be great, Stellan had lots of people to entertain, we had lots of outdoor space and the launch was just amazing as I hoped it would be. Who's coming to visit for the next one?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Don't Leave Home Without It

I like to think that I entered motherhood with my eyeswide open. I have several younger siblings, more than two decades of babysitting and loads of professional education experience. That said, I will admit that sometimes I have to stop and say to myself, "I never thought I would have a need to say this." This happened not too long ago as I was trying to get Stellan to load up into the car. He, like many others his age, feels the strong urge to never leave the home with empty hands. He'll grab whatever he sees or was playing with and will bring it with him.
"Stellan, let's leave the blender cup here. We won't need it on our way to pick up Daddy. How about a nice tupperware lid instead?" That was the exchange that caught me off guard. Even better was when Kevin got home and said, "What is the blender cup doing here by the stuffed alligator puppet?" I had to explain that the only way Stellan would leave it behind was to tell him that the poor gator would be lonely without it.
When we recently cleaned out the car, here are some the items recovered from the back seat area:
- a football
- a volleyball
- several smaller balls
- a toy truck
- a tupperware container
- a tupperware lid that didn't match
- two spoons
- toy syrup container
- a rock
- a toy button
- several magnets
- a toy airplane
- various stackers and blocks
- a toy train

I'm ashamed to tell you how many new items now populate the back seat in the short time since we cleaned.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Our Awesome Week of Awesomeness

Kevin just finished spring semester, so he had a week off before the start of summer semester. We spent the whole week doing fun and awesome stuff as a family. First and foremost, we took advantage of Miami's Museum Month deal, which is that if you buy a membership at any of the participating museums in Miami-Dade County, you can get into any of the others free during the month of May (which is Museum Month, in case you hadn't heard). We also went to some of our other favorite spots to cool off and have fun. Please enjoy this photo tour of our adventures.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kevin's Birthday Present Arrives

As promised, here is the post dedicated to Kevin's amazing birthday present. You see, a sad thing happened to the guitar we've had since our wedding. We got it as a wedding gift to ourselves with some of that awesome wedding cash people gave us. Nearly seven years later, the $99 special showed us just how much $99 will get you by breaking in a very final way. So it was time for a replacement.
I consulted with my sister Stephie, who has worked in the instrument retail business for several years, and she was able to recommend a fantastic guitar to us. It's a big upgrade, and not only because it's an acoustic electric. It has a great sound, and I have discovered that I really can bar chords - I just can't bar chords on the $99 special.
So here it is, the arrival and grand opening of our new Takamine EG 340 SC. I suspect you'll see evidence of its joyous existence in our family in future posts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

An Actual Pouty Face

This was not staged, nor was it faked in any way. I have posted both a front view and a profile for maximum pout visibility.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paula, Say It Ain't So!

[Spoiler alert: I'm blogging this live as we watch the American Idol results show.]

[Disclaimer: We only tuned in to hear No Doubt, who hasn't performed yet.]

Dear Paula Abdul,

What happened? I'm watching you sing and dance live on stage right now, and Kevin and I both think this must be a colossal joke. Your dance moves look like my sister imitating your dance moves when she was in 2nd grade. You know, back when you could actually dance. And what's with the canned vocals? We watch AI for live vocals. Are you afraid Randy's gonna tell you it was kind of pitchy? I'm disappointed. If you're going to release a single, you should make sure it doesn't suck. In the meantime, I'm going to pop in my cassette recording of "Spellbound" (yeah, I have the cassette and a cassette player) and long for the good ol' days.

The Promise Of A New Day, My Ghetto Booty!

Update: No Doubt totally rocked. At least someone knows how to stage a comeback!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jesusita Fire

I got off the phone with my moms, who mentioned their evacuation warning status due to the Jesusita Fire currently active in the Santa Barbara foothills. They're fine, and so are the other friends I contacted in the mandatory evacuation zones. I just want to let all my SB posse know I'm hoping and praying for your safety, and that I'll be keeping a very close eye on the development of the fire. It's scary to see it burning so close to home, both figuratively and literally. And I'll especially be hoping it doesn't hit Mission Canyon full blast.

Please stay safe, everyone.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

National Astronomy Day

For the first time in many years, I got to enjoy Astronomy Day as a spectator, and not a ringmaster. Although I missed being a part of the amazing event held annually at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, we did get to spend the day as a family at the Miami Science Center celebrating the day. Stellan had a good time and hopefully learned something. I also met some nice people from the Miami astronomy club, which apparently does much more outreach than my local club. So I may get to spend some time outreaching with them.
How did you spend National Astronomy Day?

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day

Friday was of course May Day, which in our family means May Day Sundae Party. We didn't have any close (in proximity) family to invite, so we invited some friends, set a table full of ice cream and goodies and ate way too much.