Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And Charlotte?

Charlotte is doing many things, at the ripe old age of 21 months. Unfortunately, the one thing her parents want her to do, namely talk, she is not doing. I suppose she is making s-l-o-w progress, but aack! it is more slow than progress.
Of course, Carden spent a year of intensive therapy learning to talk, among other behaviors, so to all you good California taxpayers of 2004-2005, you have gotten 3 for 1 out of your investment, since all the tricks that we learned from his speech team were put to use on Seth when he was slow to speak, and are now being dusted off for Charlotte's benefit. Once again we sing "Icky Sticky Bubble Gum" to learn body parts, parcel out snacks one at a time ("oh, you want another cracker?"), practice flashcards, and watch hours of Baby Bumblebee speech videos.

For all our pains we get a lot of "my dat" (everything in sight is "my that") and "no dat." Sigh. Or we'll prompt her, "you want up? Say up." To which she looks at us like the lights finally went on in our heads and emphatically say "yeah." The only bright spot is "lish" (delicious), which applies to almost everything I cook for dinner. Sadly, Carden and Seth are twice as loud with "this is the worst dinner ever." This is why people have girls, right?

Charlotte has also jumped into princess life with both feet. Here she is on the trampoline with her fairy princess skirt, which looks equally at home with pajamas and raincoats. "Doll" is another of her highly prized words, and I am chagrined to confess how her face lights up when we ask if she wants to watch Cinderella or Snow White. Sorry, Baby Bumblebee. Maybe it's time to come up with a Princess Speech video.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The rest of the Southern California trip

Still catching up on the back-blog of stuff to write about. Here's a few shots of our other activities during our Southern California mini-vacation. The best part of the trip for me was getting a weekend of California spring weather--warm. The week after we returned, Seth's preschool teacher told me that Seth had announced to his class that "My mom says that in our country spring is COLD!" (I'd told the boys that despite the calendar saying "spring," they could not wear t-shirts and shorts yet because spring in Utah is cold. They had reveled in their shorts and t-shirts at Grandma's house.

Carden celebrated his 7th birthday, and Grandma decorated the kitchen for our family party the day before the big Disneyland trip. Carden was thrilled to get a bag full of interesting books, some new games and toys and a new outfit or two--not as exciting, but still fun to open.

That afternoon I took the kids to Hart park to see the small petting zoo, which turned out to be closed for renovations. So we opted for a short hike instead up to the Hart mansion on the top of the hill. William S. Hart, the local celebrity, was a cowboy film star from the silent-movie days, and the namesake of the high school I went to, yet I'd never toured his house. I gave Carden the camera during the tour, and he went crazy, shooting photos of the floor tiles, the light fixtures, every piece of statuary and furniture, telling the other people on the tour, "excuse me, I've got to get this shot!" while he wiggled around them. Eighty-four shots, to be exact. This sitting room was his favorite part because of the bearskin rug. Afterward we drove back to Rite-Aid to see if they'd kept the ice cream counter from when it was Thrifty's Drugstore. Success! Ice cream cones for a dollar--doesn't get any better, although I remember they only cost 59 cents when I was a kid.

We squeezed in an afternoon at the beach, where despite cold and wind, salt water still smells like salt water, a fragrance we just haven't found here in Utah. Angus even came along, although after face-planting into a large sand dune (tough when your tongue is constantly out of your mouth) and getting stung by a bee, he was more than happy to climb back in his crate in the van.

It's funny how satisfying it is for me to be at the beach with my kids. I agree, in a detached sort of way, that the mountains of Utah are lovely, but nothing stirs my heart like the scrubby brown hills of Southern California, the golden-grass hills of Northern California, and the coastline between. I guess it's the magic associations of childhood and family, but it makes me wonder if my kids will grow up believing there is no scenery more beautiful than the Wasatch Range with it's near year-round dusting of snow. Probably not since we never actually get up into those mountains to do anything!

We left at 6:00 the next morning to start the drive home, hoping to arrive in time for Carden's Cat in the Hat program at school that night. After speeding through the minimum number of rest stops, Tyler dropped Carden and me off in the school parking lot with two minutes to spare. We yanked his pjs (the evening's costume) out of a suitcase, changed in the doorway of the van and ran to find a seat. I bet the only thing he remembers about the night is how we walked home and a cat followed us all the way, and then sat in the front yard for two days until I got fed up, stuffed it in a cardboard box and drove it back to the house it had come from. Carden was disappointed I hadn't learned to love it during those two days, but I say it got off easy, considering my reputation with neighborhood felines and the local Animal Control department.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Not-So-Magic Kingdom

Well, for most of us, it was still the Magic Kingdom, but I learned that it does depend on who you ask--and when.

For Carden's 7th birthday we planned a big Disneyland trip. The combination of Disney's offer to get in free on your birthday in 2009, combined with the two free tickets we won at the school raffle made it too good to pass up a trip to Southern California, especially since it means we get to see Grandma and Grandpa H. at the same time.

It really was a great day. Not too hot, not too crowded. They gave Carden a Happy Birthday button to wear, which he was so proud of. If he put on his jacket, he would quietly ask me to help him move the button from his shirt to the jacket so it could be seen. When the jacket came off, he'd again, quietly ask me to relocate the button. The Disney employees all wished him a happy day and it really made him feel like a star.

Carden loved everything about Disneyland. Tall enough to go on all the rides he wanted, but still young enough to ooh and aah over the movies come to life.

Seth had a great time once it was all over and he'd sifted through some of his emotions, but at the time he was not too sure about most of the rides. Granted, it probably had something to do with his parents' poor judgement in starting the day not in Fantasyland, but with Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Halfway through Haunted Mansion he turns to Tyler and asks in a scared, quavery voice, "Daddy, why did you take us to this Haunted Mansion?" After most of the other rides it was an emphatic, "That was the worst ride ever!" But by the next day they had all transformed to the best rides ever, so go figure. Here's a shot I took of Seth and me on Splash Mountain, which he now claims is his favorite.

Charlotte was a really good sport about spending much of the day in the stroller while Tyler and I took the boys on the bigger rides. Tiding the carousel five times in a row while I was braving Dumbo was the highlight of her day--that and screeching for every princess item at every gift shop. She screamed when Tyler took her off until he'd ask, "Ride horsies again?" "OK" she smiled, and around the line again they went. Enjoy it, kid, because despite what your dad promises, that's the only pony you're getting.