So… yeah, I’ve not given up but… well, I blame it on Facebook. Here are some highlights from the last few months.
Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
So I’m feeling unmotivated to blog. Clearly. So instead I’ll cover the last couple months of 2014 via pictures.
Wishing you all a most wonderful New Year!
Janice, Darren and Alexei
So those of you following on Facebook know my September ended with a literal bang when my pony decided I needed a flying lesson. Boom! broken wrist. Fortunately it was a clean break with no surgery needed though I managed to get both the tip of the Radius and Ulna ’cause I’m talented like that.
As an aside: wtf is up with Aetna not allowing x-rays at urgent care? They want us to go the the ER?! Who did that cost/benefit analysis? Ended up paying cash to get them done to avoid the extra expense and time. Which is probably the actual point of the policy. Sigh!
Anyway a week in a splint to allow the swelling to go down then to the ortho for more x-rays to make sure there was no need for surgery, then casting. Had more x-rays at 12 days post injury to be sure everything was staying in place. Now it’s just waiting it out, managing swelling and pain and learning how to deal one-handed. All of which is manageable but still sucky. I get the cast off November 7th!
Then of course I got sick again and kicked up the asthma, again, and am still fighting it even after a full round of steroids. Arrrghhh! Thankfully there does now seem to be a new course open to me on that front. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much as it’s apparently an expensive and relatively new-ish treatment regimen that requires pre-approval and necessitates monthly visits. But my rather conservative allergy specialist spoke of this treatment as being life-changing for her other patients with moderate uncontrolled asthma who have tried it. So after our insurance changes at the end of this month, we’ll start pulling the paperwork and see what happens. I would so like to have this work. I’m so tired of rounds of steroids and being surgically attached to my inhaler. Sigh!
Thankfully through all this tribulation Darren’s work has been relatively quiet (well till this week!) so he’s been able to take up a lot of slack. Still I know it’s hard for him to come home after a full day’s work to take care of house and kid and wife. He’s an amazing man and I am so blessed by his love and commitment to us and I know I don’t tell him any of that often enough. So I love you my wonderful husband!
Alexei is doing so well. He is really settling in at school. Seems to love it. Now that that anxiety is over I’m left worrying about what happens after Montessori. Heh. Yes, I’m one of those moms. Sigh.
He’s also been pretty incredible during all this, too. It’s so much easier with him at 5 than even just a few months ago. He is really wanting to be self-sufficient and helpful. Sunday night he even made his own lunch (with a bit of help from Dad on the sandwich)!
I’m also officially a soccer mom. He’d been doing soccer through VCFusion for a while when he was still in daycare, but now of course he’s moved into the after school class. So I sit every Wednesday under a tree and watch with the other moms and dads. LOL. BTW they are an excellent organization and I highly recommend anyone with kids interested in soccer in the VC area to check them out!
He’s also been doing formal swimming lessons since he’s gone as far as I can go with him in our pool. He has been so awesome and loved it so much we are even doing 4 weeks of lessons this November. Then I think we’ll regroup on extra curricular activities. He loves the yoga class at school and really wants to do martial arts – we’re still thinking of holding off on that as his focus needs more focus. He wants to do gymnastics again, too, and with Mandarin I think we are right into the “enough” zone.
This month has seen us at the pumpkin patch with his school, the traditional train ride to the pumpkin patch with Auntie Boo and of course a trip to our second home with Auntie Lynn and a new friend Chelsea. Alexei also got to have a week at his former caregiver’s due to Fall Break at school. (This is really a thing, apparently, in a lot of CA schools. Weird.) And most recently a trip up to Orcutt for a family gathering to celebrate the marriage of our niece Karlee to Michael, who is also the father of our great-niece Emalee. So it’s been an eventful month so far and it’s not over yet. This week is already shaping up to be busy even without Halloween in there.
Alexei has quite suddenly started asking questions about how he came into the family. Notably of course during the 8 minute drive to school on Monday! We spend a long part of the evening looking at pictures from our adoption trip and talking about how we became a family. We’ve always told him little snippets – we celebrate Family Day, talk about his Ayi in China and how we met etc – so it’s not a “surprise” situation. But it’s the first time he’s really asked a lot of questions and wanted to know more about China. But it’s time to get serious about the lifebook and start bringing it up more.
Yeah, it gets harder from here…
Oh, my one political point for this post: VOTE!
OK, picture later, posting now.
Happy Halloween, Samhain etc!
edit to add da cute!
So hard to believe the baby they placed in my arms just few short years ago is 5 today and staring his first day of school!
I know we have picked the right place for him – it’s a Montessori school and we think will be a good fit for his learning style – yet I am still a bit anxious for him. It’s the biggest change since he came home and of course it worries me a bit. However, he’s been excited about going to “big boy school” for weeks now and since – as Linda C predicted – he practically kicked us out the door, I know he’s ready.
I’m also worried about the inevitable storm of illnesses he’s going to be bringing home. Dr thought it best to wait and see how he does before putting him back on maintenance steroids for the asthma. Hopefully we won’t have to. But I dread a repeat of the first fall and winter he was home. Ugh!
He’s also starting his Mandarin class this afternoon. He’s been showing a lot of interest in all things Chinese (although I still have to remind him of the difference between China the country and Chinese New Year the holiday. LOL!) So we’re taking that as a sign he’s really ready to start. The teacher is very passionate about kids learning the language and she has a good reputation (she’s a former teacher at the school) so we hope this will be a good start for him.
Saying goodbye to his caregiver of nearly 4 years was also really tough. We both cried. Alexei seemed pretty unfazed but I don’t think he quite gets that he won’t be going to the place that has been his second home for all this time. We plan to keep in touch – he’ll be there for a few days during his fall break – as she is very special and really is attached to our boy. And of course we have play dates planned with his best buddy Andrew and his other good friend Alyssa (who shares a birthday with him) – we call them the A Team – so we hope to keep these friendships in tact in the future.
Anyway, more updates and pictures later!
Since I totally neglected to put pics on the last post, here’s an all picture post to assuage my guilt.
In before midnight!
Love and bright blessings,
Well, June completely flew by in a haze of travel and anti-biotics (yes, I did indeed manage to get sick again. Sigh!)
Alexei started off the month by trying to use his M&M dispenser as a cereal bowl, leading to a pic which will apparently soon be an album cover for my very talented friend and trainer, Stacy.
Hadn’t been to the SB Zoo in a while so we made a special family trip to see these little guys before they are not so little anymore!
The major highlight of the month was my birthday trip to San Francisco! I haven’t been in I don’t know how long and we figured this was as good a time as any to introduce Alexei to the joys of air travel.
Alexei did great! He LOVED the plane. He loved everything about the trip actually. Well, except getting sick and the wind. 🙁 But he enjoyed going through security (taking off his shoes is still fun for him!) He loved watching for the plane and of course climbing the ramp into the plane. He loved fastening the seat belt and making sure Mommy and Daddy buckled up properly. Playing with the window shade and seat tray was of course a blast and I’m just glad we had such a short trip or we would have been playing with the seat adjustment I am sure.
We planned on doing the full on tourist stuff, so we stayed in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. We also did everything by mass transit since cars are expensive to drive and park in that area. BTW: mass transit in San Francisco is relatively easy to navigate and at least during the times we were wanting to go places was regularly available. Seriously, they do pretty well, almost European well, with their system.
We took BART into the City and then the street car over to the Wharf. Bit of a long wait for the street car and of course it was crowded but Alexei enjoyed every little thing about it. The trip took a bit longer than we’d expected but we still got in with plenty of time to do a little exploring.
Alexei did NOT care for the pretty strong winds that were blowing that evening so it limited our time out. He was a little cranky at dinner but did ok and a warm bath at the hotel helped get him down for the night.
The next morning was my actual birthday and I got to wake up to the sound of my son’s laughter. It was pretty awesome. (A few weeks ago we got him a little alarm clock so he can know when it is alright to wake up Mommy and Daddy – yeah, he’s a morning person. The clock makes some funny animal noises which amuses Alexei to death. This is what caused the morning laughter.)
After I rousted Darren from bed (so much for a Father’s Day lie in!) we went over to the Hyde Street Pier to look at all the ships. It was pretty cool. A bit windy still but not nearly like the evening before and Alexei loved climbing up and down all the stairs and seeing all the different parts of the ships.
We even got to see the rangers climbing about in the rigging and singing sea shanties to demonstrate the work sailors did on the big sailing vessels!
We didn’t try to go out to the Golden Gate but we did get to see it wreathed in the fog!
We did some awesome empanadas for lunch then decided to take the bus up to Chinatown. Sadly, we didn’t count on Alexei deciding to fall asleep on the bus! Lol! So we pretty much got off the bus and got right back on the other way and returned to the hotel. Where he promptly proceeded to wake up again. After trying unsuccessfully to get him back to sleep, we headed back out to do some more exploring!
Yes, we got chocolate, including getting chocolate shakes! Yum!
Then that evening we took another bus out to Nob Hill to get some fabulous Indonesian food. Yes, I was a very happy birthday girl!
Monday morning we headed over to the little aquarium on Pier 39. It was pretty neat and a good time.
After wandering about the aquarium for a while, decided to head up to Little Italy for some awesome Italian seafood! Then we walked over a ways so we could finally see a bit of Chinatown. I love the sights and especially the smells of Chinatown. Reminds me of my childhood searching for Indonesian spices in various Chinatowns across the States. It’s also nice being closer to the average height of the crowd. LOL!
So as the last little hurrah in the City, we bought some really good gelato and then went to a little nearby park to let Alexei work off some energy before the long trip home.
Yep, he fell asleep on the way to the airport, just a little bit later than I expected.
Fortunately it worked out pretty well. He was able to sleep all the way through security. TSA sent us through the expedited lane due to having a sleeping child and as an added bonus I didn’t have to go through the Boondoggle Machine (aka the back scatter scanner.) Little man woke up just in time to eat a little dinner before we had to get back on the plane.
It was a very nice trip and even with a small mistake with the parking we got home at a reasonable-ish hour.
Sadly the little cough Alexei had developed over the weekend turned into a full on upper respiratory infection for him. Then of course into bronchitis for me. Which I am still fighting.
But I had to jump head long into getting prepped for the combined Queen’s/Altavia Equestrian Championship. Fortunately there was a manageable amount of work (having secured the site several weeks in advance and gotten most of those ducks in a row helped a lot!) And of course I had a helping hand er sword. 🙂
The week of the big event of course we got a heat wave and the day turned out to be Really Damn Hot. But it was still a nice event, even if convalescing kept me from being as much physical help as I had planned. We had a wonderful carriage and horse procession, courtesy of Lady Ariadne. Two excellent rounds run by my co-steward led to a Queen’s Champion and then a run off between the next two highest scorers determined our Altavia Champ. I was quite happy to hand the duty off to Lady Courtney!
Made it home from clean up just in time to get a quick shower and then have dinner up in Ojai with the chosen family. Where Alexei learned the wonders of uncles with a lot of energy!
Had a busy week including a very pleasant homebody Fourth of July. Alexei was very excited about putting out our flag and counting all the other flags our neighbors put up! He was only a little interested in fireworks on the TV. Although now we ALL want to go do the Fourth in DC some day! And I guess next year we’ll have to find a live event to go to, maybe even attend one of the parades in the area. Sigh. The sacrifices we make for our kids.
Oh, and our menagerie has grown to include 3 fish now. Went and bought a bigger tank and all the accessories this week as well.
Alexei continues to grow like a weed. Given that I am still only employed part time and Alexei is very happy at his current daycare, we’ve opted to keep him there for now. He will be the oldest there and is already being a leader. Starting in the fall his caregiver will start more formal preschool lessons with him. I’m also going to talk to the school district about maybe getting some language support for him and look into the possibility of petitioning for him to enter K at 5 (he misses the new deadline by 1 DAY!) The other option is to let him go into Pre-K the year he turns 5 and petition to go straight into 1st grade at 6. My only concern with that is Pre-K is only at a few schools, neither of which is his “home” school nor the one we hope to send him to. But we shall see what we shall see.
In the meantime, he remains the happiest, most wonderful kid in the world. We are truly, truly blessed.
As a side note, not sure we are going to survive the 7 weeks of summer blockout on our Disney passes. He’s been bugging me nearly every day to go! Argh!
Bright blessings all!
Yep, FB once again robs me of real blogging. But since y’all just come here for the pics, I guess that isn’t such a bad thing.
January and February were pretty eventful, seeing us doing a lot of gymnastics, hiding from the rain, fighting illness, making a couple of trips to Disney and zoos of course!
Hope all my wonderful friends and family are well. Enjoy that pics!
So I love FB for keeping in touch but it does mean I neglect this blog even more than usual. Which I really don’t want to do as FB is not so great for being a record one can go back to over time. And I really want this to be a good chronicle someday for our boy. Well, have to try to be more diligent I guess.
Hallowe’en was really nice. LE went with us the weekend before on what is becoming our traditional Fillmore and Western train trip to the pumpkin patch. Alexei rode the carousel as well as jumping in the Jolly Jumper and checking out the koi and the other neat things at the farm. It was a fun morning.
On Hallowe’en itself, Tina brought the boys over and Heather and Seth came with Eowyn and we all went Trick-or-Treating together. The kids hit nearly every house on our block and came back with more than their body weights in candy. LOL! Alexei only got really scared by one of the houses and I think he would have made it if Bran could have been convinced to go to the front, too, or it Alexei had just followed Eowyn. Heh. Little Miss Fearless that one.
We’ve had some ups and downs with potty training. He was going gang-busters for a time (candy bribery worked pretty well for that) but he recently lost interest so we’ve backed off and let him decide if he wants to go or not. He’s asked a dozen times in the last week or so, so we may try to pick it up with the long holiday weekend.
His language and other skills are coming along quite nicely. His memory is ridiculously good. He continues to be crazy coordinated. He’s been very sweet with the little ones at day-care, especially Baby Jack (more on that in a minute) and has been great with sharing and listening. Although technically they aren’t supposed to have true empathy quite yet, he shows distress when other kids cry and he tries to bring things to his buddy Andrew (who is a year younger than him) when he cries.
We’ve been having some resistance with gymnastics. He still seems to have fun in class. He really likes his coach. But he fusses about going and a couple of times has had full on throw himself down on the floor tantrums about it. I’m thinking of switching to something else as I am just getting so tires of having this fight with him over and over. Sigh! Oh, and bedtime has been an adventure. Everything from dragging his feet to more tantrums. Ugh! I’ve tried a variety of different strategies but sometimes it just comes down to Mama does not negotiate with toddlers. LOL!
He’s had some regression or attention seeking issues the last few months. He likes to pretend to be a baby (he’ll tell me he’s “Baby Jack” and get me to give him a “bottle” (his sippy cup) while he cuddles with me, also feed and put on his clothes, both of which he’s quite capable of doing himself. I’ve largely indulged him as he seems to need the attention/attachment play. It can get a little much at times though, esp when I am trying to feed myself. 🙂
But we are so blessed and so lucky, the normal bumps in the road aren’t much.
Little politics aside: big congratulations to President Obama on his re-election. It was a bit tense in the house leading up to election day and there was much rejoicing here when it was called for the President. We were also very, very happy that there a lot of liberal victories aside from the President’s win. Big wins for Marriage Equality as well as efforts to roll-back the drug war. We now have 20 women in the Senate and a larger percentage of women in Congress than ever before, plus our first openly lesbian Senator, a bi-sexual from Arizona of all places, a very high percentage of people of color and a passel of rape apologists got booted. All in all, a good night and hopefully a good four years to come.
Got back a few hours ago from a fabulous trip to San Diego. Went down there with Kelvin and Debbie and LE and met up with Vicki. Saturday we did the San Diego Zoo, which was awesome as always. Still have to try to make it over to the children’s zoo with him one of these times. They’ve added some neat play areas to the zoo fairly recently which is really cool. Alexei seemed to be more interested in those and the various vehicle than in the animals but he had a good time anyway. Sunday we went to what will forever be the Wild Animal Park in my mind, despite the renaming. Haven’t been in ages and so most of it felt very new to me. But it was a great day. Alexei got to feed lorikeets, which was a big hit. He loved the tram. He enjoyed the weekend and all the time with his Aunties and Uncle. Thanks to all of you for making it such a fine weekend.
The next couple of months are going to be busy with the holidays, our anniversary and a ton of family events coming up. I’m looking forward to it all though.
Anyway, without further ado, more pictures for your delectation. LOL!
A picture post from Disney and random cuteness…
(Edit to add for those not in the know: the T-wimmin are my college best friends. T-1 (Kix) T-2 (Kirsten) and I all worked at North Campus food services at UCLA for years and T-4 (Laura, who couldn’t make it) was my college room mate for 2 years. The reason behind the name is kinda silly and probably not even remotely funny to anyone who wasn’t there.)
So Disneyland for two days was awesome. Stayed at the Disneyland Hotel which I’ve wanted to do since I was eight. It was nice but next time we do that we’ll stay at the Grand Californian which is much closer to the parks and a nicer hotel altogether. (Plus bonus private entrance to California Adventure.) Alexei had a grand time and enjoyed most of the rides. He hated the character breakfast, though – predictably he is scared of the characters. Sorry, kid! He did have fun playing with Ava, Vivien and Keir. The girls were really good with him. But I think Keir was a little jealous when his Mommy and Mama paid attention to another boy! LOL!
Darren and I usually don’t go in much for the shows but I was so glad we went to see World of Color. It was made from awesome. And they’ve made some good changes as Cali Adv though all the construction right now is super annoying. Next time will have to try to spend a little more time over there as there is a bunch Alexei can do. Alexei and I discovered that first thing Sunday morning is like the best time to be in Disneyland proper, at least on a weekend. (Darren and the Ryen clan all got a late start Sunday morning.) We walked on to almost everything we wanted to except for the Finding Nemo ride and there we only waited 10 minutes.
It was awesome to see Kix and Cathy even though we spent most of the time wrangling kids and talking about them. Heh. How things have changed since the T-wimmin were serving up meals at North Campus, eh? Also so glad to see Kirsten and Aaron if only briefly.
So I did end up biting the bullet and getting an Annual Pass since with the special SoCal 2-day park-hoppers we got for this trip we’d half paid for one anyway. Just the SoCal (though not the lowest one) but it does offer some good perks and I’m fairly sure we can make enough visits in a year to make it worthwhile. I think my next trips are going to be sans Darren though. Lol! He doesn’t care for Disney or crowds so I love him and thank him so much for indulging us this far.
Ok, that’s all for now, folks. Enjoy!
Love and bright blessings,
So I thought I’d better get in the Disney post before NYE takes over.
With Paul being out here for the first time in 5 years to meet his nephew at last, we decided we should take our little one for his first Disneyland trip. We knew it would be crowded and crazy – the winter break is one of the busiest times of the year for the House of Mouse – and that doing D-land with a toddler would be a very different experience. We also knew our boy would really groove on all the holiday lights so we decided to brave it.
We got to the park a little later than I’d at first wanted to but that was OK. Alexei did his usual observer and decide thing when we first came into the park, just watching everything and taking it all in. But he got very, very excited when we got on the train. After the ride around D-land, we got a little food and made a plan for the next few things to do. Got fast passes for Autopia since we knew he would groove on the cars. Then headed over to Fantasyland to hit some of the kids’ rides. Had an interesting incident on Casey Junior – someone left a bag on the train we got on to, but of course this somehow went unnoticed by the cast members – despite a small child trying to tell everyone – until we were all loaded on. So we all had to get off while they called security to check it out. Had to laugh because if had been a bomb the security guard and probably all of us “behind the yellow line” (about 5 feet away if that) would have probably been dead – yeah, that makes me feel so safe. Not! Ah, well, everyone knew it wasn’t anything really.
After a few more rides and some poking around the park, we decided to see if Alexei would settle down for a nap (since he’d slept all of about 30 minutes in the car) – Paul and Richard headed off to do some adult rides and we went over to the infant center. BTW, if you have infants or toddlers, this place is awesome! They have multiple changing tables, many infant and toddler supplies for sale, nursing rooms and highchairs for a quiet feed. They were very kind to let me take Alexei into the nursing area to give him his bottle. Of course, he was having nothing to do with actually sleeping so we thanked them very kindly and headed over to Toon Town for more toddler fun. He loved this area, of course. Nothing he wasn’t allowed to touch or climb on, a nice little play ground and all kinds of things to explore. Donald’s boat was a bit scary due to that weird duck thingy in the entry way, but once we got past that he grooved on all the stuff to play with.
After that we popped by the Big Thunder Ranch to get a look at the reindeer and Santa’s cabin, then over to check out a bit of Frontierland and Adventureland! After a quick bite, it was time to hook up with the boys again. By then, it was getting on toward Alexei’s bed time, so we decided to hit one last ride together, Astro Blaster. Then we sent the boys off again for one last ride while we got Alexei into his PJs at the infant center and went to buy him a balloon.
Thankfully when it came time to pick balloons, Alexei by-passed the blinking ones for the more traditional style (although when did they add those silly outer balloons to them?) Now he has recently been learning his colors, though he only actually says a few of them (purple, blue and yellow) of which blue is his favorite, so when the balloon seller asked what color he wanted, I figured he’d name that one. So I was completely caught off guard when he said “pink.” LOL! Well, he was happy with it and both Darren and I were just glad we wouldn’t have to hide it under something to get home without blinding the driver.
We walked around a little bit more to say goodbye to the castle and the rest of the park, stopped to get Alexei’s first mouse ears and the Main Street Mad Hatter, then caught the tram back to our car. Alexei was asleep about 30 seconds after the tram started moving. So all and all a successful first trip.
So glad we got to share his first trip with my brother and cousin. Thanks guys for being such troopers and riding all the kid stuff with us.
Pics to follow. Next post will be in 2012.
Stay safe out there!