Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We have a Wii!

The Wii finally arrived on Monday afternoon. I had suggested to the kids on the way home from school that they should empty the dishwasher and practice the piano when they got home, so they could play when it arrived. Well, it appeared on our porch, and the dishwasher was still full, and no one had turned on the (digital) piano, so the box came in and sat while we went out to rehearsal.

Yesterday we finally unpacked it. After dinner (we had a dress rehearsal for the school musical until 6:00), B took a shower, M did his online homework, and I set the whole thing up. We only tried out Wii Sports, but had a great time.

The Dutch irises in the front yard are in full bloom now, and the bearded irises are not far behind. Once DH returns with the camera (tonight), I'll post a picture. In the back yard, there are roses everywhere. There's one pink bush, in particular, that seems to be very prolific.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sweets for the Sweet

Today was B's birthday, and we had nothing on the calendar, so we did a little shopping together. First stop was a sporting goods store, because B wanted roller skates for her birthday. Not roller blades (which they had at Target), but skates with the wheels in four corners. We were able to find her a pair, but since they come with a fixed boot, I opted to buy her one size larger, so she could wear them longer.

Next on the list was shopping for a baby gift. B normally hates clothes shopping (in the last year, she suddenly switched from girly girl to tomboy), but she thought the little tiny clothes were adorable, and had a great time helping me pick out an outfit for a little girl. I always buy newborns size 12-18 month outfits, in hopes that they'll get a little more wear out of them. We also managed to find a cute shirt and matching socks for B, but no shorts that she liked.

Last on the list was the grocery store, where we picked up ingredients for her birthday dinner: fried chicken patties on hamburger buns, frozen curly fries, and cake mix with frosting.

After dinner, as I was getting ready to bake her cake, B asked when I was going to bake her cookies, so she could take them to school tomorrow. Cookies? She couldn't possibly have mentioned that while we were AT the grocery store? Fortunately, we had exactly one stick of butter left for the cookies, and enough powdered sugar for the frosting. B did understand that I didn't have time to make both cake and cookies tonight, so we'll have her cake after DH gets home.

B picked out one of the dog cookie cutters in my collection, and sketched out for me exactly how I should color the cookies. The only brown gel coloring I had was ancient and nearly dried up, but it was enough for this time: dog cookie

(Note: I sent the digital camera with DH, since I thought he might see something interesting in London, so this was taken with my sister's cell phone. The paws and tip of the tail are actually white, which is a little hard to see.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Back and Forth

Today was choir retreat day for S&P, but I think I spent as much time on the road as I did singing! DH left this morning for London, so I had to chauffeur the kids to their assorted destinations. First stop (after choir warmup) was the fencing school, which was only about five minutes away from the church in Richmond. Then back to rehearse for a couple of hours. At lunchtime, I picked up M from fencing class, and drove into Berkeley to drop off B for her 1:30-2:30 rehearsal. Then back to rehearse some more. At 2:30 (well, 2:40), M & I left Richmond to pick B up and take her to her friend's birthday party. I arrived to find that there had been a scheduling mixup at the ballet school, and B was expected to stay until 4:30! (The posted schedule did not make it clear that her level was included in the 3:15-4:30 rehearsal slot, and the e-mail clarifying it didn't go out until 11:15 this morning, two hours after we had already left home for the day). Since there was a lot of confusion, her ballet teacher very kindly compromised with us, and we left at 3:30.

Both kids are very good when it comes to these crazily scheduled days. When DH is gone and we have loooong days, I've started enforcing an extra rule in the house: anyone who whines or deliberately annoys a sibling starts losing media time (computer, video game, movies, TV). This usually keeps things pretty well in check, but the kids have an extra incentive this weekend. I finally found a Wii online that only required the purchase of one extra game with the bundle, and it's arriving on Monday. The kid with the fewest infractions gets to pick the first game they play :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Brain Dead

It's definitely time for bed now. So far today, I've had two major mental lapses. I will only take partial credit for the first one: I had asked DH to clean the bathtub, since he bathed the dog in it and left it full of dog hair and mud. After he was done, I happened to go into the bathroom, and noticed the tub was not draining. DH was busy, but he suggested Drano. Which I tried. And then I tried his next suggestion of a plunger. No success. He finally finished what he was doing, and came over to take a look. And pushed down the little lever that opens the drain. Yes, I spent 30 minutes attempting to unclog a CLOSED drain. It had never occured to me that DH would clean the tub and not open the drain, so I won't accept full responsiblity for this one. :-)

The second lapse was entirely mine. Tomorrow is S&P retreat, and I decided to make spinach dip. I scribbled the ingredients on the shopping list, and picked up groceries today while B was at ballet class. Fast forward to about an hour ago, when I finally got around to making the dip. No sour cream, which is a major component. 10:45 pm is not a bad time to go to the grocery store, as long as you don't need stuff from the deli. It's nice and quiet, the lines aren't long, and there's plenty of parking.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mmmm, Duck

Last night we (belatedly) celebrated DH's birthday by going out for Peking duck. We ate at Ton Kiang in San Francisco. Excellent duck, and we also like the way they serve it there. With a whole duck, you get a generous number of steamed buns (still not enough for B's taste, though), and they serve the meat and skin together. We've eaten it at other restaurants where they just serve the skin as a first course (with the little buns), and bring out the meat as a second course, chopped and cooked with veggies.

Tonight's dinner won't be as exciting; Costco hamburgers for B and me, as DH is going out to a business dinner, and M is still at camp.

Monday, April 21, 2008

School Projects

When I left work today, I was expecting a relatively calm afternoon. M is at camp, B has no activities on Mondays, and we got groceries yesterday. Time to make a real dinner (meatloaf & mashed potatoes), water the flowers, etc., before leaving for rehearsal.

Once B came home from school, she informed me that she has to make a model of the solar system this week. It's not due until Thursday, but by tomorrow morning she needs to have eight (or nine, if she chooses to include Pluto) objects of different sizes that were: a) spherical; b) light enough to hang from a string; and c) not going to rot in the next couple of weeks. Since we couldn't come up with enough round things to fit, it was off to Michael's. I was impressed by the number of different sizes of styrofoam balls they sell there, but a little disappointed that they're sold in packages. (Anyone out there want 15 Mercurys?)

Grandma gave B a set of acrylic paints for Christmas, so it looks like she'll get to use them. Now we just have to figure out where she can do her painting, since we don't want our floor permanently decorated. DH suggested the front lawn, but I thought it was a little windy today ("oops, there goes Mars!"), and it's supposed to rain tomorrow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sprinklers & Labels

Another exciting weekend day. DH started work on repairing the sprinkler system today. I was planning to do some stuff in the garden (fertilizing, weeding, etc.). Instead, I spent quite a bit of time bailing out the sump pump, which has stopped working. I still don't know what's wrong with it: I removed the gunk that was preventing the float from moving (two bucketfuls of mud & debris), but the circuit breaker trips whenever I try to activate the pump.

After two trips to the hardware store, DH did get the backyard sprinklers working again, but we're mystified by the front ones. They were all in working order when we turned off the system for the winter. Now, only one of them pops up and waters, so there must be a leak or blockage in the system somewhere. No idea where, and the idea of digging up the entire front yard to find out doesn't appeal to me. I did start digging around the working sprinkler to find out where to go from there, but the clay was too hard to make much progress on.

M is heading to fifth-grade camp this week, so I had to label all of his clothes and gear tonight. I drew the line at labeling socks--if he loses them, I'll just buy some new ones. I did label his underwear, his toothbrush, and his sunscreen (that he'll never remember to put on). He has two new pairs of tennis shoes (two pairs of shoes are required, and he had outgrown the ones he was wearing) and a new pair of flip-flops for the shower. Target had $2.99 flip flops for women, but nothing that cheap for men, so we got a $9.99 pair at Rite-Aid.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This and That

The week is almost over--DH arrives home tomorrow evening. The kids have heard a lot of music this week: S&P rehearsal on Monday night, Voci rehearsal last night, and Willy Wonka on Tuesday and today. (M would have had to go to the Willy Wonka rehearsals even without me, since he's in charge of the lighting board, but B wouldn't normally have been there.)

Since we all left Willy Wonka at 5:00 pm, and I haven't had time to go to the grocery store this week, we all drove straight to Safeway to pick up a roasted chicken and a loaf of Semifreddi's sourdough. We've managed to squeeze in a lot of B's favorite meals this week (the ones DH doesn't like), but tonight we went for quick and easy.

It was another warm, beautiful day (79 degrees when I got home), but I didn't get a chance to work in the garden. I need to perfect my chickenwire fences--I think the dog stuck her nose inside one of them and pulled up a daylily from a container. Next time I'll make the opening smaller. (At least it was a Costco daylily, not something I paid a lot for.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Single Parenting

When DH travels on business, the kids and I have our own little routine. We eat TV dinners in front of the TV (but only once per trip!), and everyone sleeps in the master bedroom. We've also added a "make your own pizza" dinner to the routine, using premade ingredients (dough, sauce, shredded cheese) plus whatever toppings each person wants.

Those are the only things we enjoy about DH being away. I don't know how single parents do it on their own, but I always end up a frazzled mess by the end of the trip. Since I'm not willing to give up my own activities while he's gone, everyone has to go to everything, which makes for some long days.

Today's schedule:

  • 7:45 am Drive both kids to school

  • 8:00 am Attempt to cram a full-day's work into one morning (hmm, maybe I shouldn't be writing in my blog right now :-)

  • 1:55 pm Pick up both kids

  • 2:50 pm Leave for B's piano lesson (rescheduled from Thursday because of other conflict)

  • 3:15 pm B's piano lesson

  • 4:00 pm Leave piano lesson for M's fencing class

  • 5:00 pm Begin fencing class

  • 6:30 pm Leave fencing class, grab quick dinner at Costco (just down the street from the fencing school)

  • 7:15 pm Begin rehearsal for the piece I'm organizing for the S&P fundraiser on May 3rd

  • 7:30 pm S&P regular rehearsal

  • 10:00 pm Leave for home

Also on the schedule for today (but without a specific time)

  • Buy six flowers for Teacher Appreciation Week (three for each kid, due
    tomorrow morning

  • Buy snacks for S&P rehearsal tonight (why did I not check my calendar before signing up for tonight?)

  • Take out trash cans

  • Water flowers (it's been hot for the last couple of days, I put new plants in over the weekend, and DH hasn't repaired the sprinkler system yet)

Once upon a time, I used to hire a babysitter when I had evening rehearsals. Then, my parents moved to San Diego, and they were willing to come over and babysit anytime I needed them (thanks, Mom & Dad!). Now, we've moved away from my parents, and my kids have decided they are too old to be babysat and would rather come along to rehearsals with me. It's also cheaper that way--according to "The Poop," sitters start at $10-15/hour nowadays, and with a minimum of two rehearsals a week, 3-3.5 hours each time, that adds up very quickly.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wii Woes

Last Christmas, B & M asked for a Wii from their grandparents. Since Wiis were in such short supply in December, they were willing to take cash for future purchase. We thought we'd be able to get one in January, after the holiday rush was over. No such luck--so far, the only ones we've seen online are sold in bundles: we're not interested in buying ten games we don't want!

It's April now, and as far as I can tell, they only way to get one at a bricks and mortar store is to show up at exactly the right time. We're not dedicated enough to go out of our way and stand in line early in the morning. Anyone have any tips for acquiring one at list price? I do subscribe to a couple of RSS feeds for online deals, but all the ones that have come up so far require purchase of 3-10 games with the system.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

While B and I were in San Diego, one of the flowers I planted last fall bloomed:

White Dutch irisI bought a "blue and white" mixture of Dutch irises, and in the catalog photo the different colors all bloomed at the same time. I guess it doesn't work that way in real life--I now have two white irises and no sign of any blues. Fortunately, while randomly placing bulbs in the flower bed, I somehow managed to put the two white ones at either end, so it looks like I planned it that way!

Tomorrow is choir retreat day (one of two this month). I signed up to bring dessert for the lunch potluck, then discovered that someone is celebrating a birthday, so I went ahead and made a birthday cake:

Green birthday cake with musical notesFor once, I'm done with my cake before midnight! (A lot of my cake and cookie decorating happens after 11:00 pm--I never seem to learn the lesson that it always takes longer than I expect.) It took a while to get the green color right. I mixed the first batch using just "Avocado," and when I spread the crumb-coating layer on the cake, B and I both agreed it was a disgusting shade of green. So, I added a little bit of "Forest," which has more blue, then enough "Super Black" to mute the color. M still doesn't approve of the color, but B and I think it looks okay now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Break, Day 3

No, you didn't miss the "Day 2" post: the second day of our trip down here consisted of finding a dress for B, and chauffeuring her to and from a pair of playdates in our old neighborhood.

Today was a little more exciting. Well, B didn't think so, but it's not her blog :-) The family went down to our favorite San Diego mall, Fashion Valley. B made out like a bandit: I bought her some cropped jeans (on clearance), my mom exchanged two shirts she (B) didn't like and let her pick out the replacements, and B was able to buy herself socks (with Dalmations on them) and an Ugly Doll. I tried on a half-dozen pairs of jeans, and was able to determine that none of them fit properly. The ones that fit my hips were too tight in the legs, and the ones that fit my legs were too loose in the hips. If anyone has any great suggestions for places to buy jeans for women in small sizes (that don't charge an arm and a leg), please let me know! (Non-low-rise a plus!)

This evening I tagged along with a friend to a San Diego Master Chorale rehearsal and saw a lot of friends. I picked a good day to visit. SDMC is preparing for the premiere of Daniel Kellogg's Fiery Furnace with the San Diego Symphony, and tonight the composer came to listen to the choir. I got to sit in and sing along--it's a challenging work for the chorus, but I enjoyed listening and singing. I hope I'll be able to hear it with the orchestra someday.