Tuesday, August 28, 2007

RBPD Smackdown & Car Jamming . . .

. . . well, as they say, only in L.A.

So, I was out running some errands with 'Shroom and Lolli mid-morning yesterday. The kids were about to climb into the Blackhawk so we could head back home when 'Shroom noticed a fairly low-flying helicopter. Not a big deal - we see them all the time. I ushered the kids into the car and noticed that the bird wasn't flying. It was hovering. Really still. For quite some time.

Keeping one eye on the kids as they buckled in, I kept glancing over to see what the deal was. Just as I was about to shut the car door, I heard a broadcast message coming from the direction of the hovering chopper.

"Please surrender yourself. You will not be hurt."

Wow - is this really happening? The Blackhawk door is still open and the kids can hear this.

"This is the Redondo Beach Police Department. Surrender yourself and you will not be hurt!"

Uh, so it's getting pretty interesting here and at this point, I'm openly and unabashedly gawking. I'm half-expecting a FOX truck to be whipping around the corner with cameramen hanging off the side to get film footage for an upcoming "Cops" episode.


Okay - I've heard enough. I've got kiddies in the car. Time to go home. As I'm driving home, I'm thinking "Wow - so much for a nice laidback quiet beach town. I'm living in the 'hood!"


Well, if you're an Asian teen hanging out at the local Blockbuster in Torrance on a Tuesday evening, the answer is eight. Two in the front, five in the back, and one in the way back - like the trunk back.

Air Boss and a friend were picking up a video and saw a suspicious looking crowd of teens loitering around a car. One car. And lots of kids. Air Boss and friend watched in amazement (or was it more dumbfoundedness?!) at the spectacle.

As one of the teens climbed into the trunk and anther cohort slammed it shut behind him, it was apparent they didn't know (or could care less) that two teens died in Chicago and another two near L.A. while "trunking." Wow - anything for a ride with friends.

Well, just another boring day in the South Bay.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

OCCUPATION: Professional Form Filler-Outer

I've missed blogging these past several days. It's because I've been busy fine-tuning my new professional career: filling out forms. Yup, I can proficiently and expertly write my letters neatly on small little lines (unless I'm on my eighth form, then the letters get a bit messier), adeptly place an "x" in the middle of a miniscule box, and sign my John Hancock with a big flourish (well, more like hurriedly scribbling--and botching--my signature).

Well after waiting the summer, I am please to say that 'Shroom is finally registered for kindergarten (which will start in 11 days). The first day the school office opened up, I took 'Shroom across the street (how's that for a commute to school?!) and registered him for school. 'Shroom was excited to see his school and the playground (we only see it everytime we leave and return to the house) but by the first 15 minutes of being in the school office, he was getting a bit restless. 15 minutes later, he was obviously and unhappily restless. An hour later (90 minutes of form filling, signing, getting phone numbers, school records, immunization shots, and all that good stuff), he was convinced kindergerten was going to be a complete bore with no other kids and no fun things to do. We did meet Mr. Edmunds the school principal who was as friendly man but also managed to "test" 'Shroom on his colors, numbers and letters without his knowing. Sneaky - huh?

I've passed my CA written driver's test. It took me three visits (first two visits I didn't even get a number in line because I didn't have the right paperwork! so frustrating!) and six weeks. The last three weeks were simply waiting for my on-line appointment to arrive as I refused to wait 50 minutes in a crowded DMV office with a 3- and 4-year-old. So, even with an appointment, it took about an hour (55 minutes of waiting in various lines and 5 minutes to take the 36-question test and scowl for my mug shot). So glad its done.

More forms to fill out. The next challenge has been finding activities to keep Lolli busy while 'Shroom is in K. Right now, we're only registered for Thursday MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers which is a program run much like Mom to Mom in the Boston area) and thinking about soccer on Tue and preschool on Mon and Wed. I've passed the form-filling out exercise with flying colors. whew - was a little nervous there. Still trying to find a swim class for both kids.

Air Boss is still working at home (WAH as we used to call it during my days working at Cisco). I have to commend him for wearing work clothes that aren't similar to the beach wear that I don everyday (board shorts and tank top). Okay - so he'll wear his #34 Ortiz shirt whenever there's a Red Sox game on but he does manage to put on long pants. He's looking a little tired from working East Coast hours (and going to bed West Coast time).

OMIGEE . . .
. . . is getting FAT! He's been gobbling down his two meals a day and practically biting my finger off as I drop his food pellets in. Man - you would think he hasn't eaten in eight days or something! He definitely doesn't look like he's starving but he eats as if he is. My mom who visited last week said, "Oh - Omigee has cheeks!" Do fish have cheeks? I guess this guys is pudgy enough to have them. We're going up to San Jose next week to visit Air Boss' sister and husband. I'm wondering if I should leave the blue guy here on a 5 day (starvation) diet. Sounds mean but I bet if we took him on the 6 hour road trip with us, he wouldn't eat anyway. Looks like he has plenty in reserves now to last the 5 days but I'll have to think about it some more.

Well, if any of you should have to face a mountain of forms to complete, feel free to contact me for my professional-form-filling-out services. Can't guarantee the veracity of the information (and it may even look suspiciously like my info), but at least the letters will be written (sort of) neatly on the lines and the X's will fill the boxes (most of the time). =)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sunburned in San Diego

Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
This past weekend, we enjoyed a visit from my parents who were in the San Diego area for a conference (where my mom, an International Board Certified Lacation Consultant, learned that maybe it is possible for men to breastfeed . . . but I digress . . . ).

It was a brief visit as we spent 10-11 hours driving in a 36-hour period. We did get them up to LA to see our home in Redondo Beach and a bit of the neighboring areas.

We took my father (while mom was learning how men could breastfeed their babies) to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The day was super hot and the sun was strong. Even though we got a late start to the day, we were exhausted from the heat. The kids did amazingly great as they did a bit of walking and went sans afternoon nap. I learned the flamingos get their pink color from the brine shrimp that the eat (otherwise they would be a dull grey color). I also learned that anteaters can eat up to 30,000 ants a day and that newborn giraffes are 130 pounds and drop 6 feet to the ground (which helps break the umbilical cord). Talk about a rough start to your life!

'Shroom and Lolli loved their grandparents' visit. 'Shroom looked the happiest he's been in a while and Lolli kept lamenting that she didn't want them to go back home ("I can't wait more than two minutes for them to come back" after she was informed that she would have to wait two months before seeing them again).

The visit was so brief and short that I felt like I didn't get a chance to relish their presence or miss them as they left. "Huh? They were here? When?!"

I can't believe the summer is almost over, too. In some ways it's been long but in other ways, I feel like we haven't yet started to enjoy the summer. Well, at least we got rid of our pasty-white complexion and looking a bit like we've been spending some time outdoors. We'll see if it's true that tans in SoCal are really year-round. Check back with me in a few months!

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Walk in the (Dog) Park

We live very close to a dog park in RB. Although I know that this area is very dog-friendly, it's interesting to note that I hear and see dogs much more than I hear/see children. Even the local paper has a section on pet happenings. Hmm . . . no kids section that I've noticed.

Since watching a show on TV the other day, 'Shroom and Lolli have been talking about the dogs they like. 'Shroom has taken preference to little black dogs (as he saw on TV) and Lolli has been asking for a "widdle white dog" (Lolli still has traces of a baby voice and can't quite pronounce all her letters yet - L's sound like W's, G's sound like D's, and V's sound like B's). After dinner yesterday, we took a stroll down to the dog park so the kids could look for their little dogs.

It's amazing how two kids with the same parents can react so differently in the same environment.

Lolli walked right into the caged area (with Air Boss) for the little dogs. She enjoyed seeing the dogs run around and bark. The little dogs were the fiesty ones and they were literally running around in circles chasing each other. She even petted a couple of the more mellow dogs and pointed out the ones that she liked.

'Shroom initially ran into the small dog area and ran around like an unleashed dog himself but when a dog got near him (like within 10 feet), he got scared. Game over. He started whining, then proclaiming loudly that he wanted to leave, and then yelling "I don't like dogs!" and crying to leave. I tried to talk to him saying things like the dogs bark in order to talk to each other, they're playing and having fun, and even "they're not even anywhere near you!" but none of that worked. I carried him for awhile but then he was getting heavy. He was utterly unhappy.

Lolli meanwhile was having fun and even though she got jumped on by a couple of dogs (yes, even a "widdle" dog can push over a child who's barely 3' tall), she still wanted to venture in the caged area for the big dogs.

We eventually left the dog park without seeing the big dogs. 'Shroom was very unhappy and was more than willing to let people within a half-mile radius know of his extreme dislike for dogs. I did get a couple of unappreciative looks from some dog owners that sort of conveyed the unspoken message of "you're kid's not happy, we don't appreciate having to listen to him, so why'd you bring him here?" It was quite apparent we were the only ones who came without a dog.

As a parent, I'm really trying to grapple with the right balance of pushing my child to explore things that are beyond his comfort range and respecting my child's fears and easing off. It's particularly challenging with 'Shroom who's not your typically developed child.

Well until I figure out that balance, I've learned that sometimes a walk in the (dog) park isn't as easy or relaxing for some as it is for others.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Welcome to LAX . . .

Welcome to LAX
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007

...where it is much too loud!

Plane overhead!!!
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Today is the one month mark of arriving in LA. So much has transpired during these 31 days - much of it character-testing and character-building.

I miss Boston and everything there that represents "home" to me. I've noticed that I've been having a hard time getting up in the mornings and just a few days ago, I began wondering if it's depression and feeling homesick. I find that the days blur into each other and Monday's are no different than Wednesday's which are identical to Thursday's . . . The adventure of exploring our new surroundings is dampened by the kids who are adamant about staying home and not going out. I've shed my first tears of homesickness this past fourth week here. I know that realistically, things will get worse before they get better. Oh well - they say that this is all part of transition.

The stress of living in a new city has been compounded by 'Shroom and Lolli who seem to be reacting to these transitions in their own ways. Lolli has always been such our little Drama Queen (she's quite good and convincing at producing tears on command) and these weeks have been no exception. The slightest infraction against her can produce the loudest of wailings and the juiciest of tears. A slight brushing of her leg by accident can result in heaving sobs of so-and-so "hitting me!" Man, enough! And then there's 'Shroom who has seemed to forgotten how he loved the beach the last time we were there (last week). He cried and cried and refused to put his feet in the sand again. I believe this summer off from his OT and PT has really set him back and with no friends in the area, his social skills really haven't grown (or even remained constant). I'm a bit worried for what this first year of school will bring.

Well, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the much-anticipated washer and dryer today. I can say for the first time, I'm excited to do laundry. And it's a good thing that I am because I have a backload of laundry to do once the units are installed.

Okay - off to read some books with the kids.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Search for a Church Home

Since our first Sunday here in the South Bay area (L.A.'s beachside communities), we've been busy checking out a new church each Sunday. We've recently met up with a woman who had visited 21 different churches before she found the church we had met her at. Wow - I hope it won't take us that long or that many visits to find a church home.

The kids don't really bother to ask why we can't go back to our old church anymore (we miss you Boston Vineyard!) since they've perhaps lost touch with church consistency. For Lolli, as long as she gets to go to the same Sunday School class as 'Shroom, dropping off the kids isn't too bad. For 'Shroom, as long as there are dinosaurs and match box cars, he's content. We've been lucky the past couple of visits!

For those of you who have roots in the LA/OC area and/or know a bit of the churches around here, please feel free to suggest a church that we may be interested in visiting.

We've visited the following churches so far:
1. Life Springs Church (Torrance)
2. Lighthouse Community Church (Torrance)
3. Hope Chapel (Hermosa Beach)
4. Bread of Life (Torrance)
5. Mosaic (Beverly Hills)
6. New Song (L.A.) <--- we'll be visiting this church this Sunday

A few things I've learned now that I'm a "visitor" or "newcomer" to these churches, friendliness and greeting one another totally makes a world of difference. A website, in my opinion, is a make-or-break deal. If I've heard of a church but can't find a website for them, I most likely will not visit the church (unless someone I know personally is going to take me to the church). Even with a website, if there is little to no information on children's ministries and small groups (home groups, minichurch, discipleship, whatever the terminology is for that church), I still may not check it out. It is tough to drag kids to a church not knowing if there is an age-appropriate program for them.

From experience, Air Boss and I know that a church may be great and the Sunday teachings may be awesome, but if there is no outside community in the form of small groups, it's going to be tough to thrive spiritually.

So . . . any of you out there with recommendations (or even just encouragement to press on!), please feel free to let us know. Thanks!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Things I've Learned (so far) . . .

It seems as if this past month, I've been doing nothing but learning: the wrong way to go, the right way to go, the wrong way to drive on the freeways (unless I want to get myself killed), where the library and post office are, etc. I've also learned a bit about the state, the county, and the city I'm in. And of course, I've learned a bit more about myself. Here's a partial list of what I've learned so far . . .

- city's official birth date is September 4, 1781 (founded & named by Spaniards)
- American's entered Los Angeles in August 1846
- has almost 10 million residents (L.A. County)
- occupies 4,083 square miles
- represent 30% of CA's population and is larger than 42 U.S. states
- second largest Mexican, Armenian, Korean, Filipino, Salvadoran and Guatemalan city in the world
- third largest Canadian city
- largest Japanese, Iranian and Cambodian communities in the U.S.

- has over 63,000 residents squeezed into 5 square miles
- typical lot size for a single family home (averaging 1700-1800 SF) is 25'x100'; in addition to the house, that provides enough land space to park your trashcan . . . and nothing else
- still known as a tourist and resort town
- has some of CA's best and most innovative schools (according to RB's website)
- it may be cool and breezy in the summer but beach living is somewhat damp
- sand in RB is likened to grass in the Northeast where I come from (walks in the sand, playgrounds in the sand, picnics in the sand, strollers in the sand . . . you get the picture)

- when people say "I'm from L.A." most likely they mean L.A. County and not the city of L.A.
- people from Orange County (otherwise known as the O.C.) will never say they're from L.A.
- people don't use their signals on the freeway because other drivers will speed up and prevent them from changing lanes
- wine and beer is sold EVERYWHERE at ANYTIME (there is no blue law here!) such as grocery stores, wholesale storefronts, drug stores, department stores, toy stores (okay, so I'm kidding about the last two but seriously! . . . )
- no such thing as a stick of butter - it comes in a BRICK (who says "add a brick of butter to your recipe"?!)

- I don't LOOK like I'm from New England (in other words, I don't stick out like a sore thumb)
- my favorite shoes are flip flops and my feet haven't worn socks since we've arrived here
- I guess I can live with the 4"x4" glazed tiles everyone seems to have as kitchen counter tops (but I still think it's silly to have grout where one constantly prepares food)
- if it's before 10 AM or after 6 PM, I need to wear a sweater (seriously)
- I miss my family and my friends more than I thought I would
- I am more resilient than I think

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Anybody Out There?

It's been harder to blog these days not knowing who (if anyone) is reading my blog. There have been many moments throughout the day when I think "I need to blog about this" but oftentimes, these moments have been times of acute homesickness. Not sure how interesting that would be to read or write about.

- 1 month since we've left Boston
- 2 weeks of work-at-home for Air Boss
- 3 weeks of unpacking (and not unpacking), spending lots of moolah, and figuring out our way around RB
- 3 attempts at the DMV before finally getting the Black Hawk successfully registered with CA plates
- 4 weeks of bad sleep for 'Shroom who's had to share a bed with bed-thrasher Lolli
- 6.5 weeks without our washer and dryer (and still counting)
- 12 new beach toys for the kids (thank you to grandma and grandpa!)
- 13 more boxes to unpack
- 25 unopened-and-no-room-to-unpack boxes in the garage
- 700 minutes of T-Mobile anytime minutes to supplement our HotSpot@Home cellphone plan
- 5,734 crumbs still littering the Black Hawk's interior from our cross-country road trip
- 104,354,291 grains of sand in the Black Hawk and in our flip flops from our trips to the beach

Let's just say that Red Sox Nation has finally come to Redondo Beach (land of the Dodgers). After mising Red Sox games for months now, Air Boss is now finally able to root for his team thanks to his subscription to MLB.com and live streaming video. I am once again a baseball widow.

Well, we're hoping that tonight will be 'Shroom's first good night's sleep in over a month since he and Lolli have had to share the same bed. Although they've never had to share a bed smaller than a hotel-sized double, 'Shroom always gets crowded by his little sister. Lolli (who's been waking up each night crying hysterically since we've left Boston) somehow manages to get the middle of the bed and forces 'Shroom to the edge. Now that we finally have beds for them, 'Shroom is more than happen to reclaim his own sleeping space. It also helps that his bed is above Lolli's by a good 3-4 feet!

Well, here's to a good night's sleep for all of us . . .