Thursday, January 29, 2009

Roxford Cottage

Once again, I neglected to take very many pictures, and the ones I did take failed to give an overall feel of this leg of our journey - which is why I borrowed the picture above from someplace online. But fewer pictures just means this post will probably be shorter than the ones preceding it. And that's not necessarily a bad thing when I'm supposed to be getting ready to host Dolly's birthday party in a little over a day from now.

We left Travel Town when they closed at 4pm. As I posted earlier, all three kids fell fast asleep while we followed Mr. & Mrs. Habib back to their home at Roxford Cottage. Once we'd set up the playpen, we carried our little people upstairs for their much needed rest.

Then after Sir and I had unloaded the booster seats and the overnight bag from our van, Mrs. Habib and I went out to get a few groceries for supper. When we got back, the kids were just waking up and the Habibs started making the evening meal. Dolly and PC found two Duplo playsets and spent a good deal of time with them. Of course I didn't get any pictures of that, but I did remember the camera when Mr. Habib invited Dolly to help make the supper's main course.

First, roll out the pizza dough.

Plop on some sauce - be generous!

Add cheese...

And meat.

Then fold the dough over and use a fork to squish the top edges into the bottom edges thus sealing the pocket!

When Dolly got tired, Mr. Habib took over and then popped the pockets into the oven. While the Cal-zones baked, and Mrs. Habib prepared a salad and corn on the cob, we set the table. And Mr. Habib quietly and unbeknownst to the rest of us, set a camera up to record the whole meal. It's hilarious, so click the image below to see for yourself!

After dinner and the supper clean up, Mr. Habib obliged and enraptured my little people by reading book after book after book to them while I dragged them away individually to get their pajamas on before they could return to the books. It was so much fun listening to the discusions that the story and pictures sparked. And watching how comfortable all three of them were with the Habibs after meeting them for the first time only about 7 hours before.

Intently engrossed.

Emma listening in for a minute or two.

Dolly and her discussions.

Finally they either ran out of books to read, or it was getting too close to bedtime, but Mr. Habib headed upstairs to inflate the air mattress for our kids. Of course the kids followed behind, and it wasn't long before I heard loud thumping noises and childish glee bubbling from upstairs. When I went to investigate I found ALL three of my children jumping to their hearts' content on the newly inflated mattress. And then I realized that they were being assisted by Mr. Habib himself! No wonder they'll always want to go back - I mean, how many places do you find grown ups who help you jump on the bed?! To say the least, they had a blast and I got some good pictures before I had to ruin the fun and send them all to bed.

Just landing.


Zero Gravity.

A happy baby.


And then I put the camera away and didn't get it out until our next stop, but Tuesday morning (December 29th), we had breakfast with Mr. & Mrs. Habib before packing up and heading on our way.

The kids did not want to go back in the car for more driving and begged that we go back to Roxford Cottage - and we did go back, but it was a few days later on our way back to Canada. Here's the Roxford Cottage epilogue adventure continued two days after our visit...

We chose to drop off a thank-you gift that we had been unable to leave during our stay with the Habibs. So, we thought to leave a note taped to their front window indicating the package on the doorstep. We couldn't find a parking place in the visitor parking area, so Sir left the van running and I hopped over to the driver's seat while he went to leave our 'mysterious' package and note. The kids and I watched him go and were rather amused to see him suddenly duck down and go dodging out of sight in an almost tip-toe like manner. Then we were even more surprised to see none other but Mr. Habib strolling in our direction!

We thought Sir had surely been seen and our cover blown, so we smiled and waved at Mr. Habib, hoping to appear normal as he walked in front of our running vehicle, and down toward the visitor parking area, passing less than five yards from where we were. He appeard not to even see us and a few seconds after he was out of sight, Sir came bursting back into the van saying, "Go! Go! Go! I don't think they saw us!" I did just that too, and a few blocks later, we stopped to swap spots and to let our adrenaline subside a bit while we shared our stories of near-discovery!
Don't ever grow up - it's fun!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Travel Town!

My house is no longer uninhabitable, so I can blog again. I think I left you on our latest California trip at the LA Zoo....

We went right from the zoo to Travel Town (also in Griffith Park, but 15 minutes away) where we met Mr. & Mrs. Habib as planned at 1:30. Mrs. Habib brought a picnic lunch complete with macaroni n' cheese for the little people and fancy gourmet cheeses for the big people. Of course I forgot to take any pictures of lunch - and it wasn't because I didn't have the camera out, since I'd snapped a few shots of Emma collecting rocks just before we ate. Brains, I tell ya... some people need them!

Rocks! Can you believe it?! I found Rocks!!

Anyway, after lunch, we tossed nap-time to the wind, and set out to explore. PC couldn't have been happier and it was so much fun to see him so excited about something. I took lots and lots and lots of pictures, but most of them were of specific things. This means that it's hard to give you a good feel of the place without posting nearly all the pictures I took. But at least I remembered to take pictures, I guess.

An empty passenger car.

Inside. That way to the Engine!

Running out the way we came in.

My Engineers

He could hardly be bothered to wait for the rest of us.

"This one?... hm, maybe I should try that one first.. awe, this one's closer!"

PC climbed into most of the engines without any help. Emma tried this too, but I didn't get any pictures of her attempts.

"Mommy! Can you see me?!" "Mommee, 'see mee?!"

"Ha-HA! Now you have to catch me!"

A Firebox.
It was so heavy, he couldn't open it and not for lack of trying!


Proud Moment

Walking the Rails

When we got tired - or as I should more accurately put it - when the grown ups got tired of looking at and climbing on engine after engine after engine, we headed over to the 'museum'. Mr. Habib went ahead to see what the cost and departure times were for a little miniature train and came back with tickets for all of us! So, while we waited for our train, we wandered around in the cool air of the concrete-floored museum. Most of the things were not supposed to be touched or climbed on, but by that time the kids were really winding down anyway. I got quite a number of pictures, but I'll only put a few here since this post is already getting too long.


Milk Truck

Circus Wagon

An LA Electric Co. company car

Then we caught the last train of the day. I tried to take pictures as we chugged along, but very few turned out at all. Emma was out by the time we pulled back into the station and for once my light sleeper slept through me putting her in and back out of the carseat!

Emma not sure what was going on, but really too tired to care. I think she'd already been asleep for a few minutes prior to getting into the train.

Me and a tired PC

Headed 'round the bend

From a distance

Posing again

Railroad Tie Hopping


Tired Baby

We loaded up into the van, and in less than five minutes, Dolly and PC had joined Emma in slumber-land. They were all so sound asleep, that we were able to unload them and streach them out to rest once we got to the Habib's house half an hour later.

Definitely a very fun-packed day! Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Habib for suggesting we visit Travel Town, and for accompanying us through!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Swamped - the long-winded version

You'd think I'd learn one of these days. Just because I have an extra day in my week now shouldn't mean that its a good idea to add three extra days of work to my week.

Right now my house looks uninhabitable. Really. There's dirty dishes climbing out of the sink, clean dishes stacked in the dish drainer up to the bottom of the cupboard, every possible bit of counter space is covered with something. The living room, well we don't have a living room right now... basically its just a bunch of trails from here to there and from that spot to the other. There's a bookshelf in the kitchen, crib parts and dresser drawers in the dining room and living room, boxes and baskets and buckets of clothes, toys and books all over the living room, bags of non-perishable groceries still unpacked in the kitchen, bibs and sippy cups still on the table from dinner, dirt you can SEE on the floor in the kitchen, and that's just the beginning.

Sometimes I wonder how I let things get away from me like this, and then I try to figure out how I could possibly still be unpacking from our trip, rearrange two rooms of the house completely, go grocery shopping, still make three meals a day, dress, feed, and put the kids down for naps, change diapers and NOT have a disaster of a house. The answer is, I can't.

See, before we went on our trip to California (which I'm in the middle of posting about), Sir and I decided that it would probably be easier to keep the house uncluttered if all the kids were in one room and all the toys were in another. The extra bonus would be that we wouldn't have to listen to the static-y, non-digital baby monitor every night. Then we went away for eleven days. When we got home, I started on the unpacking, but there's still a few things here and there that haven't made it all the way back to their original places. Then there was the normal weekly things like cleaning the meeting room, laundry, grocery shopping to be done, but all with the handicap of still 2 feet of snow everywhere and slush, and hard-to-drive-in alleyways, that made the week interesting.

And then, I gave up the meeting room cleaning that I've been doing on an off for the last three years. For good. That meant I would have one more day to spread my normal weekly routines into, but it also meant that I started thinking, "Hey, I don't have to clean the meeting room, so why not rearrange the house?!" So right after breakfast Saturday morning, that's what I started doing.

Rearranging furniture is a family trait that I strongly inherited from my mother. I also have a wonderful tendency to do 'extra' stuff "because I'm in the area and it will 'save time and energy' to do it now". So, Saturday I got the 9 drawer dresser out of the kid's room and left it drawer-less in the kitchen while the drawers were stacked in piles in the living room. Then I vacuumed, AND cleaned the carpet (because there were spots on it that would be harder to reach once I'd put furniture back into the room) before setting up a playpen in the kid's room for Emma. I also made a fancier than usual dinner that day, and there was Sunday preparations to be done, so I didn't get back to the next step of the switch that day.

Sunday we were gone all day, and Monday morning I squeezed in a shower so my project waited until after lunch. While the kids napped, I took the crib in the nursery apart, hauled furniture out of the nursery, designed Dolly's birthday invitations, finally got to my weekly menu planning, and once the kids were up, I set the crib up again in the kid's bedroom, vacuumed the nursery, moved the bookshelf in the kids' room to the kitchen, the dresser that was in the nursery to the kid's room, got dinner for the kids and had Sir to help me move the 9-drawer dresser that was in the kitchen into the former nursery before we headed off for a bible reading with Chasm and HisLady.

Today we took Sir to work so I could have the car to do the badly-needed grocery shopping trip, and when we got home it was already 2pm. So, we had a late lunch and the kids went down for late naps. By this time I was starting to get really tired, so I emptied a few of the drawers in the living room, put them into the dresser in the nursery (now being called the playroom) and put a few buckets of toys away. Then I was lazy and read a book. I should have been writing e-mails that are overdue, or getting back to blogging about our California trip, or attacking the kitchen that was getting out of hand since Saturday night's dinner. It's not like I wasn't doing anything there, just that I wasn't getting enough done between meals to make the kitchen look more usable. I can only imagine what it would be like tonight if I hadn't run the dishwasher and washed a rack or dishes a couple of times in the last few days.

So, now I think I'm going to go to bed. When I get really tired (like a few days worth stacked up), I start to slow down way too much. Leaving everything one more night is really going to help me work more efficiently tomorrow. Right now it'll take me an hour to make the kitchen look halfway presentable and I won't have even gotten close to the e-mails, or blogging. Or cleaning the birdroom wall so I can move the bookshelf that's currently into the kitchen downstairs so I can move all the books out of the living room, or organizing the kids' clothes in their new dressers so I can put the last of last week's clean, folded laundry away. And tomorrow is Wednesday - laundry day - so, by the end of it, I'll just have another living room full of clean laundry that will need to be folded.

At least the kids' bedroom, and the playroom look pretty good so far. The major switch is done, but everything else is still reeling from it. Thankfully, tomorrow is another day. And with all of that out of my head, I should be able to start unwinding - Good night!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Zoo in LA

After packing up Monday morning (Dec 29th) we opted to visit the zoo instead of going to the after-conference beach party. See, our zoo doesn't have an elephant, a bear or gorillas - and the LA Zoo was only a 10 min drive from our hotel room, so we couldn't resist. Actually, we were planning on visiting the zoo after conference anyway, but the other reasons are more colorful.

Anyway, we took a gazillion pictures at the zoo, so I'll try to limit the number of them that I post, but be warned I think I only narrowed it down to 20-something. Hey, I tried. Just imagine how long this post would have been if I'd been able to get good pictures of the alligator, Komodo dragon, giraffes, hippo, tortoise, lions, tigers, seals and mountain sheep!

Flamingos - beautiful, but they smelled terrible!

A zebra truck! PC was thrilled.

They had snack booths and gift shops everywhere at first.

We caved at the Cotton Candy!

Red Kangaroos

A Koala and her baby

Hand in Hand - I love the action in this shot.


Zebras - they wouldn't smile at the camera like the ones at home.

Gerenuks. Emma loved these guys, and I had to pry her away from the fence with six hands so we could continue on.

A Bongo - yes, probably related to the Bongo drum.

Asian Elephant

Mr. Orangutan

"Hm, so that's how to climb a fence... 'always wondered about that."

Looking over the Fence

They found this 'Monkey' themselves and wanted me to take a picture of it with them. Except, no one wanted to sit on the sunny side of the gorilla, because it was too hot.


American Black Bear - having lunch.

Siamang Apes
(I have a video of these guys hollering their heads off, and I tried to add it to this post last night, but after 24 hours of trying and still getting errors, I figured you won't know what you're missing without it.)

All Aboard! Next stop: Travel Town!