Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unexpected Snags

Current mental soundtrack: "Mister Sandman" (I think this one is going to be stuck in my head for the next five months--very catchy tune!)

DH and I are going on a business trip this week, leaving tomorrow and returning Friday. This was scheduled at the last minute, but everything seemed to be going smoothly until tonight. My sister can stay with M (B is at camp all week), the other mom in the carpool can drive for us, and I am scheduled to be home in time for the Voci retreat on Saturday. Our plane tickets were booked yesterday, with us flying into a larger airport about two hours away from where we're going (saved ____ University about $1000). The plan was to rent a car and drive from the airport to the university tomorrow night.

DH just called at least a half dozen car rental agencies, and I checked both Travelocity and Expedia, and we got the same answer each time--not a single rental car to be found anywhere in the airport! We've never had that happen before! So, as he was starting to panic, I pointed out that his first appointment Thursday morning isn't until 10:00, and discovered there were plenty of cars available Thursday morning. (I have no idea why we couldn't get any of them ten hours earlier...) I booked us a hotel online for one night, he called the hotel we're supposed to be staying at to tell them we would be arriving the next morning, and we have a car confirmation in hand now. Whew!

The hotel I booked is one that we last stayed in thirteen years ago, when M was just a few months old. I wonder if they still have green sheets?

Monday, April 19, 2010

B's Birthday

Current mental soundtrack: "Mister Sandman" by Pat Ballard

B's birthday party was a success! The treasure hunt I planned worked out quite well--none of the clues were too easy, and only one was too hard (the crossword puzzle).

The theme was Ugly Dolls, and the prizes at the end of the treasure hunt were keychain Ugly Dolls wrapped in gold tissue paper. The clues included a word scramble, a cryptogram, sheet music ("Rubber Duckie"), a walk with a compass and measuring tape, and a jigsaw puzzle.

The cake was vanilla with homemade lemon filling and buttercream frosting.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wait, Did I Remember To Put Sleeping and Eating In the Schedule?

Projects completed this week (besides the usual work, chauffeur duties, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and rehearsals for S&P and Voci):
  • Two Peter Pan rehearsals at B's school (co-music director)
  • Attempted retrieval of M's cell phone, which was confiscated on Monday when it rang in French class. The school has instituted a new rule that confiscated phones have to be picked up by a parent. Of course, when I showed up on Wednesday afternoon, no one could find the phone. M did get it back yesterday.
  • One rehearsal for Annie at M's school. I helped out in costumes--none of the other moms on duty that day could tie a tie. I only had to stay for the first hour or so, but when I went to pick up M at 6:30, I had to wait until 7:10 before he finally appeared. Fortunately, Voci rehearsal is only five minutes from my house, so I still made it on time.
  • Two dozen cupcakes baked, filled, and frosted last night. Four will be included with a dinner I'm bringing to some friends [see below], and the rest are for S&P retreat on Saturday. (Vanilla with raspberry filling and buttercream icing.)
  • Apartment in Rome booked for July (had to dig out the fax machine that's been stored in our garage for the last four or five years)

Projects in progress:
  • Making dinner tonight for a friend who's just had surgery. I will make potato soup and pick up a loaf of bread this afternoon before taking B to ballet class.
  • Organizing B's group to audition for Orinda Idol. The signup deadline is next week, and B and her best friend L (who sang together in the last two competitions) waited until this week to decide they wanted to try again. L's mom wasn't thrilled by the idea, but B really wanted to do it, so she's going along with it. After several phone calls between the girls, they finally decided who they wanted to join them this year. They talked with their friends yesterday, and I finally had a spare minute last night to e-mail the moms. Both moms got back to me within half an hour with positive responses! (It appears that a lot of moms are online between 10:00 and 11:00 pm.)
  • Picking suitable music for the Orinda Idol group. I have been collecting pieces for the last couple of months, but not knowing who would be singing, I have some SSA and some SSAA pieces. Now to figure out what will work with the group we have.
  • Baking (scheduled for tonight after ballet) and decorating (scheduled for tomorrow night after retreat) B's birthday cake for Sunday.
  • Putting together the treasure hunt for B's birthday party on Sunday. Most of the clues are prepared on my computer, but not yet printed out. Two clues still need some work before Sunday. I have no idea if the clues are too easy or two hard for these girls.
  • Prepping for S&P retreat tomorrow. I'm temporarily the alto section leader (until D returns in the fall), so I have to run the alto sectional. As assistant conductor, I get to run the SA sectional that follows. (At least the cupcakes for lunch are already done.) Retreat is 10:00-4:00, which pretty much wipes out the entire day.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Choosing a Choo Choo

Current mental soundtrack: "Beautiful Is the World" from Siddartha Fragments, by Jude Navari

Today's pre-Europe adventure was booking train travel. Twenty-one days in Europe, two countries, six travel days, sounds like a six-day Eurail France-Italy Saver pass is the way to go. But wait! The best way to get from Lyon to Venice (according to the schedule) is overnight. Since there's a change of trains after 7:00 pm, that counts as two days on the pass. Does that mean we need a seven-day pass? Well, no, because we can just buy tickets from Venice to Florence for less than the cost of an additional day on the pass, so we're back to the six-day pass. (I don't know how many hours of online research it took for me to be able to write this paragraph, but it was quite a few!)

I ended up purchasing a six-day Saver pass for four, reserved seats for three on the TGV from Paris to Lyon (DH will already be there), and two double-sleepers for the Lyon-Venice overnight leg. It's too early to reserve the other overnight leg (Rome to Paris), and we're going to wing it for the shorter daytime trips in Italy.

Naturally, after buying these, I found one snag in my plans: In order to use our Saver pass for the family, all four have to be present to validate the pass before use. In other words, DH is going to have to take the TGV from Lyon BACK to CDG to meet us before any of us can use the pass to get to Lyon!

At least the credit card company didn't blink at the charge...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Too Much Security?

We are planning a trip to Europe this summer: three weeks in France and Italy. DH acquired the plane tickets for us a couple of months ago, as he had enough miles saved up to buy two of the three tickets we need. (He will already be in France for a conference, so his airfare is covered).

After spending February and March reading guidebooks, I've finally decided on an itinerary, so I started yesterday by trying to book a B&B in Paris for the end of our trip. I promptly ran into the first snag of our trip. Our credit card company declined the online transaction, so I had to call them to confirm that we were indeed trying to book a room in Paris. Then I had to wait for the owner of the B&B website to reset the queue (I couldn't resubmit the transaction until she cleared it). Second try--still declined by the credit card company. Called them again to complain, emailed the owner to reset everything, and waited a few more hours to try again. It finally went through this time.

Today, I attempted to purchase some other things online (normal purchases for me), and discovered the card had been blocked AGAIN. Third call to the credit card company in two days--the woman I spoke to this time had to call her supervisor to clear things up. It seems that I made some sort of change to my account information (I'm presuming this is related to deleting the work number they had for me that hasn't been valid for four years) that threw me back into limbo.

I appreciate their attempts to prevent fraudulent use of my credit card, but I'm annoyed that it took THREE phone calls to them to straighten it out. It should only have taken one. And, I had to make a phone call to a retailer to tell them to try my credit card again, since my order didn't go through. I hope the rest of the planning goes more smoothly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Random Stories From Today

Today, after Peter Pan rehearsal, B and I stopped by the house to pick up M, as we had plans to eat dinner with friends while B was at ballet class. He was ready to go, as promised, but he was puzzled by faint music that he was hearing inside the house. He said it was all through the house, and a little louder when he put his ear next to the toilet and next to the heater vent. I asked him what kind of music it sounded like, and he reported it sounded like a guitar. Once he got in the car, he decided to turn on his iPod, to drown out the mystery music. Lo and behold, his iPod was already on, and had been playing music in his pocket! (He ranked this one up there with the staple episode.)

B had a great time at ballet class, because no one showed up to teach her two-hour class until halfway through! The girls were very diligent and did their barre work, making up their own combinations as they went along. The school pianist was there for the whole class, and B reports that he thought they did a great job. (Their regular teacher is away this week--they had a sub on Tuesday, and a different one today.)

One more M funny tonight: he has a French test tomorrow, so I was helping him study by quizzing him from the textbook:
     M: What does "ou" mean?
     E: Where.
     M: There! (pointing to the word "ou" in the book)
     E: WHERE.
     M: There! Oh...

A classic "Who's on First" moment!