Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Disneyland!

We surprised the kids on Tuesday morning with the fact that we were going to Disneyland.  We filmed the reaction but because Sacha does not do well with surprises, he was not an happy jumping up and down reaction.  He first declared himself too old for Disneyland, thinking he should go to Disney World instead.  Then he wanted to know how far he needed to drive to get there (fair question after 3.5 days in the car) but it was just 2 blocks away.   It’s hard not to take his natural reactions personally but I know it comes more from his extreme anxiety rather than just being a brat. However, his anxiety sure brings about some eye-rolling bratty reactions.  And his non-traditional reaction was still better than having to listen to “are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet” a million times in the car on the drive down.

The first ride we took the kids on was Autopia, pretty tame and the kids had lots of fun.  Alice is a terrible driver.  The second ride was Space Mountain.  It was intense.  Very intense for two little kids and they were pretty gun shy to go on the third ride but we pushed them on and it was a nice tame one and then they were off and running.  Their hands down favourite ride was Thunder Mountain Railway, we went on that ride at least 10 times.  Sacha pointed out the goat holding a stick of dynamite EVERY TIME. 

Out of the three days, we only spent about 6 hours at California Advenutre Park.  Alice saw the ferris wheel and demanded to go on it repeatedly as we walked across the park to get to it.  She, Andrew and Sacha lined up and when they got right to the front of the line, she looked up and said, I don’t want to go to the TOP of the ferris wheel! and so they turned around and walked away. Oh Well.  I was never going to get on that crazy thing.  Way to high.  Sacha did go on the giant roller coaster that goes upside down.  He was very brave.  Alice wasn’t tall enough for a lot of rides in that park and there seemed to be a lot of really high ones that I wasn’t going to go on.

This was my fourth trip to Disneyland and there were still a couple rides that I went on for the first time, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones and Star Tours.  Sacha was a bit too old for most of the characters.  I don’t think he believes they are really who they are dressed up as anymore.  But Alice fully believes and she got to meet 6 princesses, two fairies and so many others.  She got big hugs from every one of them.

Alice and Andrew left on Thursday to fly back for Alice’s kindergarten observation day.  That was a little tough, they had to leave the park at 3pm and wave goodbye to Sacha and me, who did not have to leave.  

My feet where worn down to the bone every day.  It felt like there was no cushioning left, just bone hitting cement by the end of every day but we almost shut it down on Thursday night, we were there from 9am to 8pm and then I was completely done.  It was fun being with just Sacha for a little bit.  I probably would have done better at the beginning of the day though, renewed energy and fresh Advil coursing through me.

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10 Years

I knew it was coming up and was going to write about it but then I spent the majority of Saturday driving between Sacramento, California and Eugene, Oregon,  my blog is now officially 10 years old.  Looking back at the first line of my first post, I had a spelling mistake.   I am not normally to concerned with typos and won’t always go back and fix them, but I don’t think it was a typo, it was a straight out spelling mistake. Sweet.  My life had changed so dramatically in the past 10 years, it is quite amazing.  My accident and following anxiety, Sacha’s adoption journey from start to finish including 2 trips to Russia, my pregnancy with Alice and her birth, moving 4 times, the break down of a marriage and divorce, new relationships, changing jobs, multiple trips around the world and I don’t write about it often, but working on reconciling things with Andrew.  It’s kind of satisfying that I started in a happy place and are back through a roller coaster of tumultuous times to a happy place again.  Let’s see if I can keep this going for another 10 years.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Action Packed Adventures

don't even remember what day of the week it was that Sacha was sick. Saturday?  It was that day that I was seriously questioning our choice to drive this trip instead of fly. It was pouring rain. Deluge would be a good word to describe it. San Francisco was fogged in, we couldn't even see Alcatraz and there was no point stopping at the Golden Gate Park or Wharf so we pressed on through and had lunch in rainy Santa Cruz. 

  
One of the stops that I was most excited to see was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and it did not disappoint.  The best part is the Open Sea tank with huge blue fin tuna, hammerhead sharks and dolphinfish.  They had a really cool kelp forest as well.  We spent 2 hours there and the kids probably could have spent another hour playing longer in all the interactive exhibits. We were planning on spending the night at Monterey but because it was rainy and gross, I thought it would be fun to stay in a hotel with an ocean view to storm watch. All of those rooms were pretty pricey so we decided to press on  to Big Sur. I had a different image of Big Sur in my head than it was in reality. I was thinking it was a beachy/resort town.  Instead, it is a tiny tiny town in the forest on a river. We ended up staying in the Big Sur Lodge which is run by the State park. It was pricey but below average cost for the area (and probably just as expensive as the hotels with ocean view back in Monterey). Our room was a cute little cabin with a fireplace that came with a bundle of logs. We woke up to two wild turkeys roaming outside of our room. They are a gorgeous colour up close, shimmery browns. 

One of the info packs that they gave is at the hotel was talking about California Condors and had a website about tours and the 20 mile stretch where best to see them.  I hate heights and this stretch of road was very high with very steep drop offs but between the Nepenthe restaurant and pfeiffer state forest entrance, my eyes were glued to the cliff sides.  I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I stopped one with out stretched wings on the side of a cliff.  There was a car on a pull out it above so I assumed that they had seen it too and pulled over to take pics but when we pulled up to the spot, it was a family from BC that had just pulled over to let their kid puke on the side of the road. Not only had they not seen it, they didn't know what it was. I explained to them how there are only 425 of these birds in the world, in the wild and in zoos. This is a once in a life time sighting. I ended up getting amazing photos of it from about 15 feet away. I was giddy for pretty much the rest of the day, it's not often that you see one of the rarest birds in the world. We saw #34 (they are all tagged). She was a female, born May 18, 2009 in a zoo in Portland. 

As we made our way down the coast, we stopped to see the elephant seals in San Simione and Hearst Castle. We were supposed to meet up with our friends, Grant and Arianna in Santa Barbara but unfortunately two of their kids were sick and we ended up just meeting up with Grant at the hotel he works at. That was really cool too because not only did we get a tour of the hotel grounds and the professional kitchen tour, we stayed for dinner and had an amazing Italian feast.  The kids were so well behaved in the fanciest restaurant that they had ever been in for a three course dinner. The dark chocolate soufflĂ© for dessert was fantastic!!

We pulled into our hotel in Anaheim late Monday  night with the secret destination still intacted. I am 100% glad we drove in the end. 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Early Morning Wake Up

I'm writing this now because I'm awake at 4:36 in the morning. I'm awake at 4:36 in the morning, because about 1/2 hour ago Sacha puked all over the bed I was sharing with him. Now I can't get the vomit smell out of my mind. I'm not entirely sure why he puked but I'm pretty sure it's not food poisoning. It might be because it looks like he hasn't eaten a piece of vegetable or fruit in a while, just fish and chips. All day. Every day. 

Backing to the beginning of the trip, Andrew, Sacha and Alice came and picked me up from work and we hit the road.  It took about an hour and a half longer than anticipated to get to Diana's house in Eugene because Alice had to stop to pee 4 times in 2 hours. Including right in the middle of the bridge that leads to Seattle in rush hour traffic, which meant we had to pull off i5 and find parking and a bathroom in downtown Seattle. 

Diana's house is huge and really nice. Sacha declared it much nicer than ours and wants me to remedy that.  Di and her dad made us a pancake breakfast while the kids tore around the place trying to find the cats (they never found them). 

We were on the road at. 8:30am for our major driving day. Had lunch in Crescent City and I took the kids for a run around at the harbour after the meal. We heard some seal lions barking and decided to try to find them. As we walked out to the end of the harbour, I saw a group of people with scopes and cameras looking at birds. So I got out my camera and asked what they were looking at and someone told me, or I thought I heard, a common black scoter. Which I heard as black scoter, and I thought cool, haven't ticketed that one of my list yet. They are around at home but are mixed in with 100-500 surf scoters, 800 metres off shore. I don't have a scope so I would have to luck out to see one. Birders kept flocking to the pier where we were (haha flocking) so I just thought that it must be a more northern bird that they don't get down here. I took a couple pics and we drove over to where the sea lions were and took some pics of them and didn't think anything of it. 

We spent the next couple hours driving down through the redwood forest. We didn't get to see quite as many as we had hoped because a storm a couple of days ago has caused flooding and trees down on a bunch of the smaller roads but we did get to get out of the car and play in the giant forest for a little bit. 



We had dinner at Willits and pushed on to Petaluma for the night. Where I started to look up common scoter versus black scoter. The bird I saw was from Northern Europe, it's a California first sighting and considered a mega-rarity(birding term). People are flying from other parts of the country to see this same bird we just happened to stumble across! Here is an article about it http://m.krcrtv.com/rare-bird-spotted-in-crescent-city-harbor-draws-attention/31107120 


This is the bird, but not my pic it's still on my camera. 

Sacha seems to be feeling better now with an iPad movie to watch and a bit of 7-up from the vending machine. I hope it's just from eating too much juke and not food poisoning or illness. We don't have a big driving day ahead but do have lots of activities planned. 





Thursday, February 05, 2015

NPOW

On the weekend, Chris and I drove to Chilliwack to try and see a Northern Pygmy Owl.  There have been many pics floating around (if you look at birding forums regularly) and they seem to be almost the bird of the season right now, showing up in Squamish, Chilliwack, North Van, Revelstoke, etc.  I had the best directions to find the one in Chilliwack, people are very secretive with owl locations but traditionally Chris and I have had terrible luck finding any birds out that way so I was a bit nervous to commit to driving out that way.  In the end, the location was easy to find, up on Elk Mountain, there was a herd of photographers in the area that I had heard about.

It took a while to find one and the one we found was right on the edge of the forest clearing, with my new lens, I got a couple pics that were mediocre  when heavily cropped.  We heard some stories about how they will come out into the open and hunt in the clearing, that’s when people get the great pictures.  We were excited just to see one, a life list addition for both of us.  We hung around for about 45 minutes hoping one would venture out of the forest.  Then a couple of people left the area where everyone else was respectfully waiting and tromped through the clearing trying to get a better shot.  Another older man, who we had been talking with a bit and apparently has come a couple days in a row and watched the owls hunt in the clearing often.  He seemed really nice, until he mentioned that “what you really need, is one person with a camera and one with a rock to get the owl’s attention”

I didn’t really want to be a part of this group of people any longer, and with the couple walking through the area we were hoping they would fly to, there wasn’t much hope of that anymore either. So we left and drove on to Mill Lake in Abbottsford.

For the past couple years, I have seen huge arguments erupt over owls on the birding forum.  Traditional birders getting really angry at photographers that will harass birds (that should be resting/sleeping during the day), bait them with mice on strings, disturb nature (break twigs, branches) all to get a better shot.  I have never been on the side of the photographers but people get really, really angry about even the slightest clue about where an owl might be camped out.  After this weekend, I can totally see the importance of keeping these locations secret.   It was a gong show, and even though I am not connected enough to get a lot of the word of mouth locations, I would rather the birds that I love get to live unharassed.  My crumby pictures sure don’t seem so bad any more.

NPOW 1 Northern Pygmy OwlNPOW 3
Facing Forward

NPOW 2 False eye patches on the back of it’s head

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Beave

At the beginning of the year, I swore it wasn't going to happen on more than one occasion. But as time moved on, my resolve was chipped away bit by bit and as of tonight it's official, I've passed all the interviews, I've watched all the online sessions, passed all the quizzes and I've now donned the red shirt. I am a beaver leader.  There is actually one more step before I get my necker and woggle, I have to say the scout promise at an investiture ceremony. Tonight was kind of a crazy meeting racing beaver buggies, so it didn't happen tonight and then we will be away next week. So I won't be invested for a couple of weeks.  

Sacha is old enough to swim up to cubs next year but Alice is keen to start in September so I will stay a beaver leader. Apparently there are always more cub leaders then beaver leaders so I'm happy to stay. I don't know if I will ever enjoy camping. Beavers camp less than cubs and that's enough of a reason for me. 

I don't have a name yet either. I'll have to think one up soon.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Zoodles

On Sunday, we didn't have any plans so we popped down to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.  It was a beautiful day and the kids loved seeing all the animals. 

Sacha's favourites were the Meerkats and Bears. Alice loved the elephants, giraffes, flamingos and penguins.  Andrew liked the Snow Leopard because it came right up to him. My favourite animals were the orangutans. I did feel bad for them being in a cage especially being winter and inside . Their eyes are so human, you can just feel how intelligent they are. There was so much information about the destruction of their natural habitats because of palm oil harvesting. It's so sad. 

The other unique part of our visit was that all most everyone at the zoo was decked out in Seahawks gear.  We were pretty much the only group without at least one member wearing Seahawks clothing.  A lot if the enclosures had 12th man flags or Seahawks logos as well. The whole city will be watching the Super Bowl this weekend. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Allergy Panel

On Thursday, I want to see a naturopath. Lots of people are seeing them at work and have had some really great results and are now feeling much better.  I know I'm still having allergy issues. Not like the hives in the summer but just feeling gross after eating.  I wasn't too happy with the traditional way to diagnose allergies either. I had the scratch test in the middle of a histamine extravaganza in my body and pretty much everything lit up as an allergen. So then I did the elimination diet and started adding foods back in. If I reacted, I was allergic, if not I was good to go.  But that doesn't seem scientific enough. Or at least I don't trust my own judgement. 

So, I'm not getting my blood tested for 190 different foods to see which antibodies I have.   There were two tests to do, most people just opt for the first one but since it tests for about 15 different types of fish and seafoods and then beans on top of that and I never eat those things anyway, I thought I would do both panels. I'd rather know if I'm allergic to blackberries and vinegar than salmon and Lima beans. 

I get the results in a couple of weeks. I'm not going to start on any crazy diet (like no sugar and only healthy food) before my trip to Disneyland. I've been feeling crumby for months and months. I can wait another 10 days. 

I am really interested to see what I'm allergic too.  I hope it's things I don't like already. I fear it's dairy and gluten though. 

Chop chop

Three years ago, I would have had three posts written about everything that has been happening lately.  Now. I'm going to squeeze it all into one while I get 15 minutes on my lunch break. 

Last week when I was in a fog of illness, Sacha and Alice got hair cuts on the weekend.  Alice just got a tiny trim but Sacha had his cut shorter. Well. I asked for longer in the front and short on the back and sides. In my head, I can picture this being a haircut that looks normal on people. Apparently the hairdresser did not agree and the result was a weird wide flat Mohawky thing. But it was cheap and I was sick so we just bundled up and left. By Monday morning, I didn't want to send Sacha to school with such a weird haircut so I sat down and cut the front short so it was more uniform. 

I am not sure at what point she did it because she was downstairs watching a couple of movies while I was upstairs, sick in bed. But Alice took it upon herself to cut her hair short, just like Sacha. She cut everything so it was 1-2 inches long, leaving a long section from the center of her head to her left ear - the bit she couldn't reach. What she was left with was a pretty impressive mullet. 

After her ballet class that night, I tidied up a bit, at least making it short all over.  It's all business now. No more party in the back. 

Over the weekend, I got an email about today's ballet class, where they are going to be taught how to make proper buns. I bought a hair net and bobby pins but I don't know how we are going to make this work. 

She looks cute with short hair but I did prefer it longer.