Thursday, June 26, 2008

Last week we found ourselves in Southern California on a whirlwind trip to visit friends and relatives (we stem from the land of excessively skinny and overly tan - or as the natives call it Huntington Beach). With my son’s twelfth birthday approaching we decided to squeeze Disneyland into our plans. Our three had never been to the park and I was dreaming of a magical adventure that would profoundly affect the children for the rest of their lives.

And yes, I do watch too much television. But I also grew up going to Disneyland and have fond memories of the park. In my mind Disney is the quintessential childhood experience: lines to be sure but characters and rides and bigger than life lollypops and mouse ears and adventure and oh so much fun.

But Disneyland during a heat wave on the first weekend after school gets out? Not so much fun. Not so much at all.

We started on a small ride - Snow White’s Adventure something. I’m rethinking the whole fairy tale concept. I know Grimm’s tales are, well, grim. And growing up Disney I know they follow the same grim model; mother dies, evil befalls and then, finally, happily ever after.

However this ride did not do a good job of demonstrating the happily ever after and the baby, at 4 1/2, left terrified bawling about witches and monsters. The older kids, being so much more worldly, exited bored to tears. (Insert eye roll, a few this is stupid and a few what a baby remarks between the older set).

Okay - on to something a bit more benign but no more mature - flying Dumbos. The line took forty-five minutes (longer than the ten claimed by the sign out front). It was 95 degrees outside. We would have passed out from heat stroke had my husband and son opted out and gone for sodas. I was ready to strangle the morons who were on this ride without children. What were they thinking? This is about the kids damnit! The kids!

Finally it was our turn. The girls and I piled into the ride and they loved it. But the ride was short and the baby had a melt down when told we could not stay in our seats for another turn.

Next? Tea cups! They had a blissfully short line in the shade to boot. The kids and I whirled and twirled while the hubbie took photos. By this time the baby seemed to understand that rides had to be exited at completion - i.e. no tears. Hip hip hooray! Things were picking up!

We were feeling good. We were feeling brave. We took on the Matterhorn. The baby was tall enough to ride and got to sit snuggled in Daddy’s lap. It was dark, it was cool, it was fast. The boy loved it. Finally - something for him. The girls - hated it, completely and totally hated it. Yes, yes things were going swimmingly.

We bypassed the 1 1/2 hour wait for Nemo and moved on to Space Mountain but there was no way no how the girls were going on that. Not after what we did to them on the Matterhorn. So the girls and I left the boys and went back to the carousel. Yippy skippy!

We were hot. We were tired. We were crabby. We did not enjoy the hot, tired and crabby attendant at the carousel. Aren’t these people paid to smile?

After the carousel bribes were definitely in order - a set of lovely princess/mouse ear headbands. At least the woman in the air-conditioned shop was Disney friendly.

After meeting the boys we decided we were done. We wanted, no we needed to go back to the beach. Middle daughter had a complete breakdown not because we were leaving but because she had four dollars not yet spent.

So like all good parents of children having tantrums we took her to a candy shop, took her picture, generally teased her with threats of internet fame then bought her four dollars of candy. She made an exceptionally good purchase - a large jaw breaker which she is still working on nearly a week later. Her dentist will thank me for the additional revenue. She was once again happy. Whoo (insert wiping of the brow).

Rejuvenated we braved one final ride - the Pirates of the Carribean. The big kids and I went while daddy sat out with terrified baby. She wanted nothing to do with pirates. The ride was lovely and cool and wet and totally redone since I last rode it twenty-five years ago.

Then we left. Entrance to Disneyland $310.00, Mouse Ears, beverages and candy $60.00, four hours in the Southern California heat in the name of family fun - priceless.

The moral of this tale? Go to Disneyland on a Wednesday in February. Trust me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ah, Young Love...

My youngest daughter has taken quite a liking to my son's friends. She has several little crushes on these "older" boys. One of the boys, Davis, recently sang in a school choir concert. The baby was enamored. Her sister, who is eight, helped her to compose a poem to Davis; perfect fodder for homecoming dates. We will, without a doubt, mortify our children during their teenage years.

Happy Love Thursday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He’s singing. Over there with the mariachi band. He knows all the words. He’s clapping along cigarette hanging from his mouth, balanced in his lips, filling the void of missing teeth.

His family sits next to me. A daughter, perhaps, and son-in-law. They’re speaking Spanish excluding their young son; the strange third generation child who knows only English. The child wants his mother’s attention. He poking her, butting in, “Is it a mar-eee-ah-chee?” he demands, “Is it? Is that what it’s called?” The parents continue talking ignoring the child’s interjections.

Me? I’ve forgotten a book and am passing the time between order and food delivery watching this family. I’m also watching hoards of people meander along the river walk.

The river is murky. It is concrete. Man made waterfalls cascade down and tropical plants line the walk. I’m sure the landscaping intent is genuine but it doesn’t feel natural. I feel like I’m in a zoo; a passable facsimile of the real deal.

It is hot. Not as hot as the streets above but hot nonetheless. Most tourists sweat and wipe their brow. Humidity, heat and a herd of people do not make for comfortable skin.

I, too, am being watched. Intent pigeons eye me greedily waiting for my attention to wane. My chips are in jeopardy. I assume my margarita is safe, at least from the avian population.

My food arrives, chicken mole enchiladas. There’s too much cheese and the chicken is dry. But the sauce is good.

Suddenly two ginormous boobs bounce my way. Too bad my husband isn’t here, I think, he’d appreciate those. I feel slightly homesick. Then slightly sick. I’m alone and I’m a boob watcher. But who could help it? They were huge.

I am full. I did not eat my rice and beans. The singer has returned. He engages me in conversation, typical questions; Where are you from? What brings you to town? He is clearly bilingual. I wish I spoke Spanish.

Then he surprises me. Caught off guard I don’t immediately answer. He repeats his question, “You done with that? Mind if I have it?” He wants my rice and beans. I hand them over to the embarrassment of the younger set and disgust of the waitress. I was done after all. The food was going to go to waste.

I stand to leave and merge into the herd of people along the path. I’m seeking refuge in the air-conditioned hotel. “Goodbye,” he hollers after me as I walk away, “Welcome to San Antonio!”

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Today is Love Thursday. I am miles and miles away from those I love. I spent the better part of the afternoon looking for gifts to bring home to the wee ones. What does one get for a 12-year-old boy and an eight and four-year-old girl? The items must fit easily in my baggage and be inexpensive, educational and representative of the town from which they came. Not an easy task. After much debate I settled on two necklaces, a naval cannon and a book. I wish the necklaces were made locally. They are not. Of course they fare from China. The cannon is from Gettysburg, PA - we’re getting closer. And the book, Girl of the Alamo, by Rita Kerr was printed in Austin - even closer still. All items were purchased at the Alamo and thus will support the upkeep of this historical site. Hopefully Texas will forgive my transgressions.

Now I’m off to listen to hematology abstracts. Tomorrow I fly home to see my family. I can’t wait!

Happy Love Thursday!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cross the line

Our veterinary hospital is being remodeled in phases. We leased the building next door, built it out and tore down the walls between old and new. This weekend we moved into the new space and tomorrow will begin remodeling the old. The new portion is sparkly, professional and akin to the medicine we practice. I love it. And yes, sparkly is a word used by professionals. Ooooh shiny.

During this process, however, we neglected to consult our clinic cat. He had no say in the design or construction process. He didn’t even get to pick wall colors. And he is not impressed. He remains alone in the old side forlorn and wondering why everyone left. He is sticking with what is comfortable and familiar. He refuses to cross the line.

And I wonder how many people refuse to cross the proverbial line. How many people habitually cling to what is instead of what could be? Don’t get me wrong - I fully condone living in the moment. But life is capricious. Life is change. To live in the moment is to embrace change.

Some people go full bore courageously stepping into new and exciting adventures. With envy I watch their lives open and evolve. Fear is present to be sure. But they do it anyway.

And me? I wonder what lines I am refusing to cross and what wonderful things could be waiting on the other side.

How about you?