Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My First Earthquake Experience

Do I feel like a dope. Yep - I'm a New Englander at heart and this earthquake thing is all so foreign to me. So I'm homeschooling the kids upstairs in their bedroom and the whole house starts shaking.

My first thought?

"Those darn construction workers are running around on the roof and shaking the whole house!" [I don't remember if any expletives followed but for the sake of this "family-friendly" blog, let's just assume not.]

Air Boss rushed into the room and he immediately had the reaction "Earthquake!" (can you tell he's had a little more "experience" living in CA than me?)

I grabbed 'Shroom and stood under the bedroom doorframe (is that still the thing to do? or am I still a dope?) and Air Boss grabbed Lolli and headed out of the house. (uh, what am I still doing under this doorframe?)

I followed Air Boss out and we saw all the window blinds in our unit and the next swaying. I'm still thinking, "Dang, that's one heavy construction worker."

Yeah - okay, just say it. I'm the biggest dope.

We survived a 5.8 quake and folks way down in San Diego even felt it. After flipping on the TV and watching the news, I FINALLY gave up the notion that it was a heavy-set construction worker running on our flat rooftop.

So, if any of my East Coast friends and family who have never experienced a quake, I am honored to share with you that it feels like a fat man running really fast on your roof.

Sorry I don't have a photo of the epi-center to post. The LA Times server is down. Wonder if it has anything to do with a large man running on their rooftop . . .

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Birthday Camping

Happy Birthday!
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Well, the CSET is over and I'm finally able to enjoy some R&R this summer. Air Boss had decided a couple of months back that a good way to unwind after the exam would be for our family to go camping. So two days after the grueling 5-hour exam, we packed up the Blackhawk (with a teeny tiny bit of room to spare) and headed out east to Big Bear Lake.

Air Boss had been telling friends how worried he was about me and how I would freak out about getting dirty and being outdoors all the time. I don't know what he was worried about. It's not like I've never gone camping before. All in all, it was fine and the kids (this was their first foray into living in the big outdoors) did well. Not once did I even have the kids wash their hands before eating a meal. That's so uncharacteristic of me and my neat freak ways. See . . . I can cope with being dirty.

As you can see in the photo, we went camping with another family, the H's. It was a blast - all five kids got along great with little to no fighting (with the exception of some sibling squabbles). It was amazing to see how entertained the kids were with 99 Cent Store water squirt bottles. Who says kids need fancy toys with batteries? Stick them out in the forest and they'll figure out a way to amuse themselves (or at the least investigate other campsites uninvited).

So there was one packing glitch on my behalf. We managed to get all the gear in place and even the food and meals planned out. I had pulled aside warm and cold weather clothes for both kids and adults but there was something I had forgotten to pack.

You see, I had set aside a partial stack of clothes for the kids and Air Boss, being ever-so-helpful, stuffed the stack into a duffle bag. The thought that the kids didn't have a complete set of clothes never crossed my mind (out of sight, out of mind). H Family, if you're reading this, you'll know why 'Shroom and Lolli wore what they wore . . .

. . . NOT present in that partial stack of clothes were clean short-sleeved shirts. I had packed L/S shirts and hoodies for the kids but let's just say that the only S/S shirt 'Shroom and Lolli had for the entire 4-day camping trip was the shirt on their back. Yup - they wore the same shirt everyday for four days straight. If the H Family never wants to camp with us again, we'll know why (at least part of the reason why . . . )

. . . See . . . the neat freak in me CAN rough it to the point that wearing the same clothes day in and day out doesn't bother me too much. Of course the first thing I did once we got home was to start up the washing machine . . . and the shower . . .

Ahh -- home sweet home.

P.S. I celebrated my SECOND birthday in CA up in the mountains. Can't believe it's already been over a year here in the Golden State.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bye bye, Omigee

Bye bye, Omigee
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
It is with great sadness that I write about Omigee's passing. Our little blue-finned family member, our cross-country mascot from a year ago, and 'Shroom and Lolli's 2006 Christmas gift has died.

I had discovered him at the bottom of the tank "resting" in the corner by the silk plant. His fins were upright and all would have seemed normal . . . except . . . he was perfectly upside-down.

Puzzled by his new swimming manuever, I put my face close to the tank and he didn't flair his frills at me. He was still. And quite upside down.

My heart sank as I knew that there was no doubt that Omigee had passed on. Air Boss broke the news to the kids (after I had scrambled upstairs to let him know - all using hand signals so as not to alert the kids prematurely).

'Shroom and Lolli said good-bye and I gave a short prayer for Oimgee by our downstairs toilet. 'Shroom did the honors of flushing. Except he didn't quite push the lever all the way and the limp blue fish swished around a bit but didn't go down. Air Boss made a funny face and I held my breath. 'Shroom finally gave a final push on the lever and Omigee disappeared from our home.

I do feel sad - like our last connection to Boston has been wiped away. Omigee made the 3,000 trip with us in the Blackhawk. He survived our first tough year here in LA and now he's gone. I know he was just a fish but to me, especially since we left Boston a year ago, he became more than "just a fish."

Rest in peace, my blue friend.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Breaking the Silence

Things have been quiet on the blog-front for a couple main reasons:

1) been busy studying for the CSET (California Subject Examination for Teachers) Math Subtest 1 and cramming in all the algebra I learned but forgot and everything else algebra-related I never learned, and

2) been torn about what to share on the World Wide Web; lately I've picked up a pen and paper and "blogged" the old-fashioned way (the past-time formerly known as "journaling")

Despite exercising the hand through pencil-pushing problem sets and penmanship practice on blank lined paper, I've been successful in keeping our summer days busy.

Here are some highlights:
1) taking the kids to their first VBS (Vacation Bible School) experience; Lolli still gets confused and calls it "CVS"

2) watching the kids slightly improve their "swimming" skills after two weeks of swim lessons (and yes, 'Shroom and Lolli were the only kids wearing wet suits in the outdoor pool)

3) feeling driven out of our apartment as the construction noise in the unit next door is hitting a new decibel record (apparently weekends are fair game for construction work)

4) deciding to buy a car, test driving it, picking out the color and the actual car on the lot, negotiating a price and agreeing to buy it, and then backing out of it at the last minute (all within an 18 hour time span)

5) getting ready for our first camping experience (which involved getting a huge honking 2-room tent with full-sized screened in porch . . . and then returning it because it was--literally--way too big)

6) creating fun (and funny!) journal pages with the kids as we try out homeschooling this summer

7) watching the kids learn to read (okay, so it's more like watching ONE child read and watching the OTHER want absolutely nothing to do with books, words, letters or anything resembling symbols that look like they should be read)

The summer has flown by so far and I can't believe we'll soon be going back to Boston for a much-anticipated visit. In the meantime, I have some pretty ugly looking math problems to get back to . . .