Wednesday, May 30, 2007

California Trip - Day 6

Sunday - May 20th, 2007

To get to meeting on time, we had to be packed, done with breakfast, have the car loaded and be in the car by 9:15. We made it by 9:05. I even thought ahead and saved out travelling clothes (leaving space in one of the suitcases for our meeting clothes to go in later) so we could change into something more comfortable for the drive home. Dolly even got to go to Sunday-school class with Bells, so 'going to meeting in California' was just what she had hoped it would be. There was a potluck after meeting and it was a delicious Turkey dinner. They had an afternoon meeting scheduled for 2, but we wanted to get on our way and said our last goodbyes just as meeting was about to begin.

On our way out of town we stopped at the park where Sir and I were engaged. He needed to check his e-mail so he could stop worrying about work, and I took the opportunity to repack the car after putting our meeting clothes in the suitcase reserved for them. The kids got to enjoy the shade and chance to run around a little. They were especially drawn to the big shiny motorcycle that parked next to our car. If only Daddy and Mommy didn't make such rules like "stay out of the parking lot!" since it really makes life a lot less fun. Of course, I didn't take any pictures because I forgot about the camera until the next morning. I had packed it away very efficiently and it was well out of sight and definitely out of mind.

By the time we made it out of Red Bluff, it was already after 3. On our way down to California, Sir had discovered that my everyday clothes were getting pretty worn. Although I don't mind a few small bleach spots or little bitty holes here and there as long as the clothes are still comfortable (very few people notice right away anyway) Sir thought it was high time for me to start thinking of replacing my wardrobe. Since there was a Walmart Supercenter in Anderson we stopped there so I could take a look to see if there was anything available that I might like. PC was fast asleep, so Sir stayed in the car while Dolly and I killed the better part of an hour wandering through the clothing department. The problem with trying to replace your non-pregnant clothes while pregnant is that you can't tell how the clothes will fit when not pregnant again. Most of my clothes can be worn when I'm pregnant or not because I like loose fitting clothes. I did find two skirts and two tops that I was happy with even if I couldn't find any jumpers or dresses no matter how hard I looked. I'm not sure if the skirts will stay on when I'm not pregnant, but I guess they can always be taken in later.

Over the past few years, Sir and I have developed an 'exit California' tradition of stopping at a nice restaurant on our way out of town. Since it was nearly 4:30 when we left Andersen, we decided to stop for dinner in Redding after filling the car again with gas. We stopped at the Cattlemens restaurant and got free steaks for the kids. Of course they could have shared one free steak, but for each adult entree you could get a free kid's steak so we decided we could always pack steaks with us on our way home. After all, steak is almost as good cold as it is piping hot. We didn't rush and when we were finished, I dressed the kids for bed since there would be no reason to stop again for a few hours. It was almost 8pm so we found the nearest payphone and called Sir's parents to let them know we were on our way. I had forgotten to let them know when we had gotten to California and didn't want to leave them wondering how we were doing again.

Finally we were on our way with nothing but driving home ahead of us. While the kids settled down for bed, I set up an audio book on Sir's laptop for us to listen to while we drove. Sir had downloaded a few books to his computer before we left home and we had picked up an FM transmitter on our way down so we could play stuff over the car speakers. The book really helped the time slip by and it was already 11:30 when we stopped for a washroom, something cold to drink and to check on the ice in the cooler. The kids were still fast asleep, so the stop wasn't long and we were on our way again. By 1am, I started getting too tired to keep listening to the book, so we put it away and I dozed off.

Around 2ish, Sir stopped at another gas station, but I'm not sure where we were. He was starting to get tired and needed to get some snacks to stay awake. At 3, I woke up again because we had stopped at a rest area. Sir was too tired to go any farther and I wasn't awake enough to take over, so we decided to just stop and sleep for a few hours. Because the lights of the rest area were too bright and the car was parked almost downhill, I asked Sir to move the car a bit. We just kept going until we found a small exit where we could pull over on the side of the road. Dark enough and with the car on flat ground, we finally called it a night.

California Trip - Day 5

Saturday - May 19th, 2007

Since we'd hardly spent any time with our hosts during our stay, we had made arrangements to join them for a big family breakfast Saturday morning. My dad wouldn't be up and about until around noon, and we had some last minute shopping to do before heading out to the ranch as well, so we had a little time to spend with Uncle J. and Aunt A. Breakfast consisted mostly of pancakes and bacon, and it was delicious! PC was in such a hurry to inhale his bacon that he bit his tongue for the first time. It was sad, but also very funny to see his thought process as he tried to comprehend how the bacon managed to 'bite'. We had a small battle over his 'last bite of pancake' that in the end I'm not sure who won. PC managed NOT to eat the ONE piece that Sir chose as the last bite, but eventually ate ALL the rest of his chopped up pancake.

Once we'd finished breakfast, chatted with Uncle J. and Aunt A. and packed the diaperbag for our day at the ranch, we said goodbye and headed out. Our first stop was a ranch supply store to look at what was available for fly repellent medication. My mom had recommended that store and we hadn't managed to stop in to check earlier in the week. Not impressed with the selection, we decided to go back to the feed store we had been to the day before. But we were on the opposite side of town so we went ahead and did our gift shopping before grabbing some lunch and heading back to the feed store. We ate in the parking lot and while I cleaned the kids up Sir ran into the feed store and bought the repellent we had originally looked at. While we were there he picked up some leather conditioners and soaps for our boots so we could clean them properly when we got home. With one last stop at the grocery store to pick up a watermelon and some ice, we headed out to the ranch.

As we drove in the driveway, my sister Renée was driving out. Probably to work or to drop Cole off at his dad's house. We waved and continued on to the house. Both of my mom's sisters were already there. Sir and I had arranged to sell two of our horses to them and they had come with a trailer to haul the mares away. We unloaded the kids and the gift for my parents and went inside to visit a little. There was a family dinner planned for the day, but to Sir's and my surprise it was served at 2pm! We had actually eaten lunch in town since we didn't know how late supper would be and didn't want to be starving to death in between. As my brother, Liz and C gradually showed up, and the 'dinner' was put together, I tucked Dolly in for a nap. PC decided he was too awake and I didn't want to battle him on naps in a strange place. Lunch was a ham roast, mashed potatoes, corn and a bean salad. It was suggested that the watermelon that we brought be cut up for dessert or just a snack later, so other than the piece that I gave to PC, it wasn't served with the meal.

After lunch/dinner was cleaned up, my mom told us she wanted to vaccinate and de-worm the horses while so many people were around and then 'maybe some would go for a horse ride'. So, Liz, C and my brother set out to get the horses in. Amusingly enough, the horses ran past the house (away from the kids on foot and in a pickup) at least five times before finally being corralled. By the time they were finally in, it was getting close to 5pm. We caught each horse and gave it two intramuscular injection vaccinations and an oral de-worming paste before moving on to the next one. There were fourteen horses to work so it took a while before we were done. Once our horses were done, I helped my aunts halter and start to load the two horses they were buying from us while the rest of the horses were being medicated. Sir kept our little ones out of the way and where they could watch the excitement with so many horses around. Once the rest of the horses were done, my brother came over to help me load the second horse we were selling. She had never trailered and wasn't very excited about entering a strange metal box. I wasn't too pushy about it either because the last thing I wanted to do at five and half months pregnant was get squished between two frightened horses in a trailer. After much coaxing and a bit of persuasion, we got the second horse into the trailer before taking a break to catch our breaths.

We went back to the house for our break and everyone enjoyed some watermelon while we visited a bit more. It was already around 7pm and my aunts wanted to get going so I grabbed the camera and tried to get a few pictures of them before we said goodbye and they loaded the horse they had brought with them and left. Since we still had to pack and would be leaving the next day, we didn't stay very much longer either. I needed to give the kids baths and we wanted to wash some of the dust off the outside of the car before loading it up with our luggage and getting dust inside as well. We visited a little longer with my parents and finally got on our way for the cottage again just after 8pm. Once we got there, Sir took the car out to a carwash, picked up some ground beef that my mom told us was in the freezer at her office for us to take home, some ice for the cooler and grabbed a snack since we hadn't eaten anything other than watermelon since the dinner at 2. While he was gone, I bathed the kids, put them to bed and started the long job of repacking everything for our trip home before taking a shower. When Sir got back we composed our thank you card for our hosts and finally called it a night around 1am. We had hoped to get to bed earlier since we had a long day ahead of us, but overall we felt a bit more rested than we did before we started out on our California trip.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

California Trip - Day 4

Friday - May 18th, 2007
See! I have pictures!!

Exhausted from the day before, I slept until PC woke me up at 7. Dolly and Sir were still sound asleep, so PC and I slipped out of the bedroom and sorted through our luggage again. We were creating so much laundry that I needed to start thinking about getting some washed. Since the auction in Cottonwood wasn't going to start until 10:30, we had time and I didn't rush to get ready. We snacked on animal crackers and grapes while we waited for Dolly to wake up. Once she was up, we got dressed and headed in to the big house. Bells and her siblings had already left for school so we had our breakfast with Aunt A as she finished her own.

I finally had to go wake Sir up since we had planned on making a few stops before getting to the auction yard. While he got ready to go, the kids and I played on the swing set as soon as I finished repacking the diaperbag. We actually got on our way around 9:30 which I thought was pretty good. Our first stop was a feed store. We wanted to price some fly repellent medication to put on our crippled cow. We also wanted to show our little ones the baby chicks that were for sale. PC loved it and if the bin had been any smaller, he would have climbed right in with them. It was a little disappointing that the sign said not to pick the chicks up. The kids would have been thrilled had they been allowed to touch them.

From the feed store we headed straight for the auction yard. Within minutes we had found a comfortable spot to see the cows go through from and settled down to watch our kids enjoy the experience. They loved it! PC almost hung over the seat back in front of us in his excitement - bidding for all he was worth. It was a good thing the auctioneer didn't take him seriously since some of the animals going through were bringing some pretty hefty prices!
Dolly really lit up when for some weird reason the program shifted and instead of only cattle like usual, they started running some miscellaneous animals through. I deeply regret not taking pictures of that, but it was so much fun to watch Dolly's excitement that I completely forgot the camera. The worst part was, it was sitting right beside me in the diaperbag the whole time. They ran a pair of Yorkshire sows, a couple goats, half a dozen baby goats, some Suffolk sheep, two sorrel horses, and one other horse was led through on a halter and lead. By the time I remembered the camera it was back to just cattle again. So, I took a few pictures of the different colored cows that went through and grabbed a shot of my kids stuffing themselves on Cheetos to hold them off until lunch.

Just as we were about to go for a late lunch, Mr.&Mrs. Rancher showed up. They're the ones who acted as my second set of grandparents at our wedding and they had hauled the cattle for us the evening before. We said 'hello', watched the cows for a few more minutes, packed up the kids and diaperbag and headed downstairs to the little auction yard restaurant. Once lunch was out of the way, we headed back into the auction area to watch for the cattle we were selling. Mr.&Mrs. Rancher headed out for their own lunch a few minutes later, and we settled our kids down to rest - and to take naps if they could. PC fell asleep right away and had a pretty decent nap, but the noise of the auction was a bit too much for Dolly and the best she could do was to doze on and off for a few minutes. To our surprise my mom and C showed up around 3pm and they joined us for a little while. We had only seen seven of the fifteen head of cattle from the ranch run through by that time.

After a while I remembered my ring at the shop and went in search of a payphone. I called the jewelery shop and found out that the ring was ready for pick-up. Since Sir wanted to stay and watch for the cows, I asked my mom if she wanted to come with me and the kids while I retrieved my ring. She was happy to, so we packed the kids off to the car and drove up to Redding. On our way back to Cottonwood, we grabbed some ice cream cones at a drive-through. My mom had to get going since she needed to get the car back to the ranch in time for my dad to leave for work at 5:30, so as she left I ran down to the 'seller's' window to see if the rest of our cattle had gone through. Sure enough, they had and somehow we had missed them. Probably while we were eating lunch. That was a little frustrating because if they had gone through while we were eating lunch, we had wasted about an hour and a half after the last of our cows had gone through.

Once we picked up the auction cheque, we packed up the rest of our stuff and headed out to the ranch. On our way we stopped at a gas station to toss our leftover ice cream cones and the rest of the garbage we'd been accruing since we arrived in the area. My dad had already left for work by the time we got to the ranch, but he was scheduled to be off work the following day so we were hoping to actually get to see him then. Sir did the calculations necessary to figure out how much of the auction cheque was what our cattle had earned and then turned it over to my mom who headed in to town to cashed/deposit it.

Realizing that supper was going to be late again, we decided to head into town ourselves. Dolly had gone through more diapers than I had planned and would need more by the next day. We also decided to get at least a snack for the kids and another flashlight since we hoped to stay later and visit with my family that evening. We did all of our errands and got back to the ranch long before my mom got back. That was nice because we didn't waste time we could have been visiting with her and we got things done that we would have had to put off for the following day which we were planning to spend just visiting with family.

We hadn't been back at the ranch long before my sister Renée showed up. She had been over at the neighbor's and had left her son with my brother to visit for a bit. When we had arrived Wednesday we were told she was down in the central valley visiting a friend and wouldn't be back in the North-state until Friday. After giving each of our kids a present, Renée turned around and went back to get her little boy. Cole was rather shy and he hardly said a word the whole time we were there. He did play with our kids a little before it started getting late and I brought them inside while I hunted something up for them to eat. Before we went inside, I got a few pictures of Cole and his cousins. None of them turned out very well, but at least they're better than nothing at all!

While the kids got to know each other a little, my mom had C start up the barbecue again. We were having more ribs for dinner, but it would be a while before they would be ready so Sir and I started putting one of the cribs together. We wanted the option of putting our kids down for bed and being able to stay later and visit. Constructing the crib took longer than we thought it would and I had just barely tucked our little people into bed when supper was served at 10. The meal was a lot more chaotic than I found enjoyable, but I'm sure part of the frustration was due to the millions of bugs that kept slipping in to beat themselves against the lights each time someone opened the front door. When we had finished our supper, Sir and I went outside to calm down, relax and enjoy the cool air and star-filled sky. It was bittersweet to look back at past memories, but memories are part of the visit each time we go back.

Since it was getting late and most of the kids had disappeared - Renée had left Cole with my mom to put to bed while she dropped her friend Joe off at his house, C drove my brother back over to the neighbor's house, and I have no idea where Liz disappeared to - we spent a few minutes with my mom before packing our little ones up and heading back to the cottage. Thankful that the day had been profitable and that we wouldn't have to worry about the cattle any more, we looked forward to spending the rest of our vacation with nothing but spending time with family planned. Although it was after midnight when we finally welcomed sleep, it was definitely worth it to be able to get some rest!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

California Trip - Day 3

Thursday - May 17th, 2007
Caution: If presently bored, you may consider skipping this post for the time being. Sir believes that if you're not bored to start out with, you will be (by the time/if) you reach the end.

PC woke up only once at the cottage that night. I barely remember getting up with him, but it was around 4am. When both of the kids woke up at 6:30, I got up with them and took them out of the bedroom so they wouldn't wake Sir. We sorted through our suitcases until they made sense, got dressed and then joined our hosts for breakfast.

At first the kids were fussy, but I know a lot of it had to do with them still being tired from traveling. We made it through breakfast, saw Bells and her siblings off to school and then joined Aunt A as she did the chores. I was thankful that Dolly started warming up to Aunt A as the morning progressed because Sir and I had made arrangements to leave our children with her while we headed out to the ranch for the day.

There were little chickens to feed, a bunny to pet, cats to adore (PC loved this job), and a skittish dog to befriend (Dolly decided this should be her job much to the poor dog's horror). By the time Sir woke up and got ready to go, the kids were happily exploring the yard, swing set and whatever else they could find. Dolly was even looking forward to going for "a walk in the stroller with 'Aun-T'".

Although we had told my family we wanted to get to the ranch earlier, it was already after 10 by the time we got there due to a couple of stops on our way in search of a flashlight bulb. To our surprise, there didn't seem to be anyone around at all. We had thought that C and maybe my brother would be out to help us move the cattle and sort out the ones we wanted to sell, but when we left Canada we had planned on the possibility or probability of not having any help at all, so it wasn't a big shock to find ourselves alone. The first thing we did was to start looking for the horse gear. That proved more adventurous than we had anticipated and by the time we finally located the 'tack room' the better part of an hour had slipped by. The horses were still in the field behind the house, but the cattle had been turned out of the barnyard corrals since there was no water for them to drink. We weren't too concerned since they would be easy to re-collect and hadn't gone very far overnight.

Wisely we thought to locate the key to the corrals at the end of the driveway where we'd be taking the cattle before spending the time catching and saddling the horses we would be using. Only, we had no idea where to even start looking for a key. Thankfully the ranch cell phone had been left on the dining room table and the battery wasn't dead. I called my mom's office and spoke with her assistant. We were told that C was on his way back out to the ranch and that he would know where the Rattic Field gate key was. But, when he arrived about 10 minutes later, he had no idea where the key would be. C thought that Liz had a key, but she was in school. When we finally got through to my mom, she said that my dad had confiscated all the keys to all the gates from all of the kids and our best chance would be to wake him up and ask him where we could get a copy.

So, that's what we did. I felt terrible waking my dad up only a few hours after he got off work and to bed, but in less than five minutes, we had ring upon ring of keys and all we had to do was figure out which key unlocked the padlock on the Ratic Field gate. While C drove over to the neighbor's house where my brother lived to recruit him for the day's work, Sir and I hopped into our car and drove down to the gate to try out the keys. To my satisfaction, I found a working key on my second attempt. Sir and I returned to the house and joined C and my brother in catching and saddling the horses we would be using for the day.

I was bitterly disappointed to find my horse not only skittish of being caught, but downright determined not to be part of the activities that day. The worst part of my frustration was because, before I moved away, my horse had been one of the easiest to catch and most gentle horses around. C and my brother tried to convince me to pick a different horse... then suggested that maybe I shouldn't ride in my 'condition'. I was just as set on riding my own horse and ignored them. After all, it could be the last time I got the chance. Sir caught his horse Fancy, we saddled her and he started warming up a little while the rest of us chased our horses around. Finally I gave up chasing my horse and asked my brother to catch her for me. He gave it a try for five or ten minutes and then said that she wasn't going to be caught that day and if we managed to, she'd give me nothing but trouble. Then he went on to finish catching and saddling the horses he and C would ride. I told them to go on ahead and I'd either join them with or without a horse later.

As soon as the three of them were gone, I sorted the horses that I didn't want and put them back into the field behind the house. That left just me and my horse in the yard area. In less than ten minutes, I had caught her, and I had her mostly saddled by the time my mom and Liz showed up about half an hour later. When I finally got all the way up into the saddle, I was sure that the guys had probably finished pushing the cattle down to the corrals. So, I headed in the general direction stopping to take a look at my crippled cow on the way. C and my brother had gone off to bring in the last few pair that had avoided being gathered the day before and I joined Sir at the corrals where he was waiting for me. We rode back toward the house together glad to finally be making progress. My mom sent a girl who claimed to be a friend of my brother's to meet us halfway offering water which we gladly welcomed.

When we reached the house, we rested for a while while and got to know Meg a little while the other kids found and corralled the missing cows. Liz had joined the two boys on another horse when she got home from school. Once all the cattle were collected, Sir and I unsaddled our horses, brushed them down, turned them lose and drove back down to the corrals where we started the long job of sorting out the cattle to be sold. Curious as to what working with cows was all about, Meg was the only one to help us, and although she hardly knew what she was doing, she was a fast learner and turned out to be a huge help. Once we were nearly finished, all the other kids showed up and watched us work from their vehicles.

It was already 4pm and the truck and trailer was due to arrive to haul the cattle at 5. Instead of waiting around, we decided to run back into town to get our kids. We had to get gas and we grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way since we'd missed lunch. My mom was planning a rib dinner, but it didn't look like it would be ready for a while. When we got back to the cottage, everyone was sitting down to supper. I tried calling the cell phone to see how things were going with the cows, but there was no answer. Since our kids were already up to the table with food nearly served, we decided to feed them there instead of later. Besides, chances that supper at the ranch would be late were rather good. We got changed out of our riding clothes, Sir drank just about every open bottle of gatorade, juice or water that we'd put in the fridge from our trip down, we packed up our kids and their pajamas and headed back out to the ranch.

When we got there the truck and trailer had just arrived to haul the last of the cattle and we were able to watch/show the kids/help. It was already 7pm when we got back to the house after walking the rest of the herd back into the main field. My mom had C start the barbecue and preparations for supper began. I was really glad we'd fed our little ones at our host's because it was 9pm by the time supper was served. There were ribs, mashed potatoes, green beans and a salad. After supper we visited a bit before getting our kids dressed for bed and heading back to the cottage for the night. Stiff, sore and dusty, we happily welcomed hot showers before crashing at 11:30. And I manged not to take a single picture throughout the entire day - much to my frustration.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

California Trip - Day 2

Wednesday - May 16th, 2007

Sir drove until 2am after we left Lynnwood. By then he was starting to get tired. He had been watching for a truck stop since we wanted to get a little pillow for Dolly's neck, but by the time he woke me up to talk to him, he still hadn't found anything promising. Finally we spotted a Walmart Supercenter and to our delight it was open 24 hours. While Sir stayed with the kids I ran inside and found a pillow among other stuff and re-emerged to find Sir starting to wonder if I had fallen asleep in the pillow isle.

Since he wasn't quite as tired after the Walmart stop, Sir kept driving until we stopped to get him something to drink and a snack in Kelso. While we were there I nursed PC so he wouldn't wake up later when it was more inconvenient for us. By the time PC was finished, Sir was awake enough to keep going and after a while I dozed off to sleep again. At 4am. he couldn't drive any more and I took over the wheel. I was absolutely delighted to get to drive into the sunrise and since it only got lighter outside after I took over, it was a lot easier to stay awake than I had originally anticipated.

The kids started waking up around quarter to 7 and when they started getting restless I started looking for a rest stop. I didn't want them to disturb Sir any more than necessary. We stopped at Gettings Creek just outside of Eugene where I got the kids dressed before letting them stretch their legs a little. It was sunny and about 45 degrees. Dolly started out riding her scooter a bit before losing interest and joining PC in a game of ball. We watched a robin hop around and saw him swallow a worm (major highlight for my daughter). Then Sir woke up, washed up a little and played a bit of ball with us before we hit the road again. Of course, I completely forgot to take any pictures while we were stopped.

Sir drove to Roseburgh where we ate breakfast at at Denny's. The kids were starting to get tired of traveling and were restless during breakfast. Once breakfast was over, I called my parents to let them know when we thought we'd be getting in based on where we were at the time. We headed out again and I had to get some rest. The kids were still fussy, but they soon fell asleep and I started to un-stress enough to doze off for a while.

Just before we got to Grants Pass, we started thinking about lunch. I had packed sandwich supplies, but wanted to grab some lunch meat to put on them. Once we found the Fred Myers in Grants Pass, I ran in for some allergy/sinus medication and the lunch meat while Sir stayed in the car with the kids. Next time somebody needs to tell me how vast a Fred Myer store is. I'd never been in one and ended up trekking across it in four different directions to find the few things I was looking for. Consequently I ran into two irresistible sun hats that would be perfect for keeping my kids from getting fried in the California sunshine. When I finally emerged from Fred Myer, the kids were both awake and we decided to try to get as far as we could before we had to stop for lunch.

Somewhere after Grant's Pass and before the California border, Sir and I traded off again. I know this because I was the one who drove across the CA border and remember looking for a place to stop for lunch. It was getting late for lunch and the kids were fast reaching their limits, so we stopped at the first rest area inside California and had our picnic lunch. Sir took the kids down to look at the river that ran along side the rest area and they loved it. Dolly made about four trips to the washroom before finally using it, but at least she did.

While I packed up our lunch stuff, the kids and Sir kicked the ball around before discovering the water faucet next to the parking lot. It wasn't until just before we left that I remembered the camera, but at least I got a couple pictures. I had changed the kids into cooler clothes since it was already 80 degrees and it was barely 1pm, so we just dried them off a little before loading them back into the car. It would be a lot warmer at our destination and it wouldn't take very long before they would be nice and dry again.

After lunch, the kids fell asleep and our next stop wasn't until we reached Weed. We needed to get enough gas to get to our destination where we could fill up at at more reasonable price. We reached Redding around 4:30 and after missing an exit, we turned around and found our way to the jewelery shop where we had purchased our wedding rings. My ring needed to be repaired in order to keep it under warranty and we thought that we might as well see about having it done by the people we bought it from. I'm glad we did because the quote we got was less than half of the amount I was quoted in Bellingham a few months earlier. We left my ring and headed for the ranch.

Dolly and PC woke up as we got to Cottonwood and because we were so close to our destination, it was easy to keep them happy. Dolly loved the bumpy dirt road and just as we got to the main gate, we ran into my dad on his way to work. We stopped and said hello through rolled down windows before continuing on. It was 89 degrees and after 5pm. I was really glad we didn't get there any earlier since I can only imagine how hot it must have been at noon! We actually pulled into the driveway just after 5:30 glad to have finally made it.

Liz, her boyfriend C, and my mom were the only ones at the ranch when we got there, but the kids didn't care. They were too happy to get out and see all the dogs, cats, cows and horses that were all over the place. To our surprise my family had collected the cows earlier that day so Sir and I were able to walk through and see our cows that we were hoping to sell later in the week. Dolly started out very excited to see all the cows, but then turned absolutely terrified when she realized how big a cow really was. She clung to Sir and switched between laughter and whimpering until she noticed that "the cow has a pink nose!" She thought that was the silliest thing and forgot to be afraid of the cows after that. Liz and C had run the horses into the yard by then, so Sir took Dolly out to see them too. She wasn't afraid because they were kindof like cows, and she really enjoyed petting "mommy's horse".

We visited with my mom, looked through the cows and got a tour of the house before it was time to get going. It was meeting night, and we wanted to make it out for meeting. Since we didn't have enough time to eat supper, we made arrangements to meet my family for pizza after meeting. Then we headed in to the meeting room and had just enough time to slip a skirt on Dolly before meeting started.

The kids were hot, tired, hungry and restless, so keeping them quiet during meeting was a bit of a handful, but we managed. After meeting we said hello to everybody and then took our leave for the pizza parlour. Mom, Liz and C showed up about ten minutes after we got there, and since we had ordered pizza as soon as we had arrived, it didn't take long before dinner was served. Dolly fell in love with Aunt Liz and PC really hit it off with my mom.

When dinner was over, we followed my mom to her new office in town where she showed us around. She had to grab some stuff for a class the next day and it was on our way to the cottage where we would be staying anyway. Once we'd seen the office, we drove a few minutes more to the cottage where we carried our sleeping babies in, unloaded the car, set up the playpen, changed the kids into pajamas (without waking them - I was proud of myself for that), took showers, and finally crashed in a monstrous king sized bed in utter exhaustion just after midnight. We were glad to have made it safely to our destination and glad to have a place so comfortable to stop.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

California Trip - Day 1

Tuesday - May 15th, 2007

Cleaning the house and packing for our week-long trip went relatively smoothly even if I never did get the house perfectly clean before we left. Tuesday morning the kids and I went with Sir on his way to work as far as the car rental place. From there Sir went to work in our old vehicle while we took the rental and did our last minute shopping on our way home.

Sir actually had a doctor's appointment he had to go to before going to work, but he was also planning on working a half day and would be home around 3ish. He got to work a little later than he had hoped so he wasn't able to get off until 3:30, but a half hour delay was do-able. Around 2pm he got to thinking about the rental paperwork he'd glanced over before taking his leave of us, and thought he remembered seeing something about driving out of BC. He got a hold of me and had me double check the paperwork.

Sure enough, there was a little clause lost among the paragraphs in the rental agreement that said that unless we had specific written permission we couldn't drive the rental outside of BC, Alberta and Washington state. This was frustrating because when we were looking around for a rental place Sir had actually called the main office for the company we rented from and specifically asked about renting a vehicle to drive in the states. They had told us it would be fine and so we had decided to rent from them.

The next thing I did was call the actual rental location we had picked the car up from as if I was interested in renting from them to see if they'd provide a vehicle that could be driven to California. I discovered that yes, it was possible.... but for an additional fee. Overall it was cheaper to just pay the extra fees than to return the car and try to find one from a rental place that didn't have all kinds of conditions. But we still needed to get our little slip of written permission.

I told Sir what I had found out and he called them saying that he had rented a vehicle from them and then discovered the exceptions. He wanted to make arrangements to get the extended permission. They were fine with that, but told us that the vehicle they had rented out to us was due for maintenance and was not allowed to travel past a certain mileage that we would exceed on our trip. This meant that we had to return the rental we had (that I had already started loading with our luggage) and exchange it for another.

So, Sir got home at 4 (the rental place was closing at 5), I had unloaded the car and he rushed off to get one we would be allowed to drive to California. So much for our grand plans of actually getting on our way by 4-4:30ish! We finally crossed the border around 6:30pm. A little stressed (at least I was) and really on our way!

Our first stop was supposed to be for dinner with Sir's younger sister L. and her husband, but we ended up stopping at Doc and Bashful's to pick up a battery charger that we had ordered and had mailed to their house, a grocery store where I grabbed an energy drink for Sir and some tissues that I had forgotten to pack, and a little gas station/restaurant for Dolly to go potty (or get a new diaper since we didn't make it in time). We finally got to D&L's around 9:30. They must have been starving and I felt terribly guilty for making them have such a late supper.

In spite of the late timing, the meal was absolutely scrumptious. They did barbecued pork chops with homemade barbecue sauce (Sir insisted I get the recipe :)), barbecued skewers of zucchini and mushrooms, the most delicious baked potatoes I've ever had (I think she did some kind of twice-baked thing to them, but they were good - creamy insides and slathered in cheese), a beautiful garden salad and ice cream for dessert!

Dolly was in 7th heaven. She had been looking forward to our trip to California for weeks on end and part of the anticipation was stopping at Uncle D and Aunt L's house. They're pretty close to the very top of her 'favorite people' list and she wasn't disappointed at all. After supper the kids played with D&L while we relaxed a little, visited with them and enjoyed our little ones' excitement and happiness over tea (At least I had tea... I don't remember if Sir had anything or not).

Finally our little people had reached their limits and we changed them into pajamas, repacked the trunk a bit, said 'good bye' and started out at quarter to midnight for our drive through the night. The kids were asleep in ten minutes and Sir and I enjoyed a few minutes of peace and quiet together before I had to get some sleep myself. We had hoped to get more sleep before our trip, but there was always something else to do still so we never did get 'rested up' before we left. I needed to be able to drive when Sir reached his limit and if we could manage actually getting sleep while the other drove we wouldn't have to pull over and sleep away precious kid-quiet hours of the night!

Monday, May 21, 2007


We're home (as of 8:30 this evening). I was going to post one of the very few pictures that we took on the trip, but I'm so tired that I'm falling asleep at my computer while transferring them from the camera to the computer. So, the pictures will have to wait until I get a chance to fill in all the details of our trip.

The kids are bathed and in bed, the car is unloaded (Sir and his Mom are returning it now), and I was actually smart enough before we left to put clean sheets on our bed and not pile it too high with laundry to be folded which means I don't have a whole list of chores to do before I can finally crash.

Sir is the one who had it the hardest since he drove almost the whole way, but the kids kept me busy enough even though they were really good for almost the entire trip.

So, for now, this is just to say we made it safe and sound to and from California and nothing very important went wrong! That said, I'm going to bed because I have two little people who have just been storing energy for the last day and a half and will probably be up bright and early to start wearing it off! Good night.

Monday, May 14, 2007


As soon as I finished posting my last post, I presented Sir with the same question: Where would you put your flashlight if you were two years old?" He replied with:

Did you try the drawer in the coffee table? Check. Not there.
How about her purse? Nope.
What about her bible case? No.
The diaper bag? Already checked.
Daddy's bible case? (At this one I jumped up to check. She has been known to put things there.) No. Not there either.
Daddy's computer case? (This is another favorite stashing place of our daughter so I started looking.) This is what I found:


If you were two years old, were beyond excited about a upcoming trip, had just purchased -almost by yourself- a $2 Canadian Tire flashlight, and couldn't wait to help your mommy pack- WHERE WOULD YOU PUT YOUR NEW FLASHLIGHT????!!!!

This is what I'm trying to find the answer to amidst packing, cleaning and keeping up with my kids. "It's only a $2 flashlight" you say. Yes, this is true. BUT. We just bought a bunch of rechargeable batteries and Sir was using Dolly's new flash light to discharge some faulty ones before charging them properly before our trip, so it's not just the flashlight that's missing. Hopefully Dolly didn't turn the flashlight off before she stashed it, and the whole ordeal won't have been a total waste.

Yesterday I was doing something in the kitchen- I don't even remember what it was now- and I glimpsed out of the corner of my eye, my daughter dashing out of the kitchen with her new flashlight (on) slung over her shoulder by the strap like a purse. At the time I wasn't worried. I'd let her play with it a few times before and always found it afterwards. But by last night I still hadn't found the flashlight. And I'm running out of places to look. I've checked just about EVERY hiding place and stash-spots that Dolly has and have come up empty-handed.

It's not in the fridge.
Not in the half packed suitcases.
Not in ANY of my desk drawers.
Not in the bookshelves.
Not in the toy baskets.
Not in the nursery.
Not on my nightstand.
Not in the piano bench.
Not in the cat stand.
Not under the fish tank.
Not behind the dining room table.
Not in the many half-filled-with-toys grocery bags strewn about the kitchen.
Not in the wagon.
Not in the dishwasher.
Not in the oven.
Not in the kitchen cupboards.
Not in the pantry.
Not behind or underneath the refrigerator.
Not... Not... NOT!

I'm running out of ideas of places to look faster than you think and Dolly doesn't seem to be much help either. The worst part is, we're leaving in about 16 hours and at the rate I'm going on my search, I'll find the flashlight in some odd place three weeks from now!

Ok. That said, I can go back to my search... and maybe I'll manage to get a little more done on the packing at the same time. You can only imagine how focused I am on packing while at the same time I'm racking my brain for possible flashlight hiding places!

Friday, May 04, 2007

10 Months Old.

Here's PC at 10 months.

And here's Dolly at the same age.

PC didn't pass any major milestones in the past month, but he has started to 'talk'. He's discovered his voice and all the different sounds that happen when he does funny things with his mouth. Beside that though, he has his very own language of communication. I'm not sure if he's just recently come up with it, or if I just recently realized that's what he's doing. He 'talks' a lot with his hands. At first I thought he was just doing funny things, but after a while I discovered that the same signal always means the same thing. For example, "Hi" looks like a nazi salaute. And "drink" is VERY DIFFERENT from "up" (for those dumb moms out there who don't see the tiniest change). "Up" is both hands raised straight above his head. "Drink" is diffrent because although the HANDS are in the same position, his HEAD is tipped back like he's looking at the back of his hands. Then there's "come", and "can I have?" and "bye bye" that all have different hand signals as well. His only verbal words are: "Car!" and "Mama!" I think "Daddy" sounds like "DA!", but I haven't tested it enough to be sure. Thankfully, there's Dolly around most of the time, and she can translate the stuff I never see. I'm sure there must be something he's doing when she says, "PC wants a drink." and sure enough, when I give him the sippy cup he drinks like he's parched. Even if he didn't even look thirsty to begin with!

The two pictures below are zoomed out to show the difference in their walking abilities. As you can see, Dolly is standing, but the snow is helping her stay upright while she was so bundled up she could barely breathe! She had been walking for all of two weeks when I took her picture and wasn't too sure of the uneven terrain. PC, on the other hand is in transit for his photo. He'd been walking for almost 8 weeks and is confident in his abilities to get around. You can really tell the difference when you look at their overall posture and the positions of their hands/arms.