Sunday, July 27, 2008

Being a Supermom

There has been so much activity going on that I have to question whether I can keep up with the expectations that people have of me. Everything is going great, and then sometimes all these self-doubts creep up and I feel like I can't do it anymore. Maybe it's because my whole life has changed. Maybe I am not feeling as confident as my family needs me to show. Maybe I'm PMSing. Maybe it's a combination. This week, though was a real roller coaster.

The 21st was our 17th wedding anniversary. We went to the park for the Monday night Family Fun night hosted by the city and it turned out to be someone selling some MLM juice product. Gymstars was there to entertain the kids outside while the parents were watching this live infomercial inside. As Ashley put it, it was a train wreck. So, we left, walked around the park for awhile, discovered some bunnies (like the kind living in the bushes )in grandma and grandpa's backyard) along the way, and went home. Okay, so it wasn't the greatest thing we've ever done on our anniversary, but it wasn't the worst either.

That's when the self-doubts started to surface. Did my family expect more from me that day than I delivered? I mean, we didn't plan anything special. It was a typical day. Ashley and I went to the gym in the morning, home schooled the rest of the day, then we all went to the park. And, oh yeah, it was our anniversary. I think Ashley and Derek were disappointed that we didn't make a special day of it, but I really didn't make any plans.

On the 23rd, we took Ashley to her dental appointment in Corona. This was a biggie. She was going to have her four-part kiddie partial removed from her smile because her adult teeth are budding through. We prepared her by encouraging her about how wonderful it is that she's growing up and getting her new adult teeth in. She got really excited and couldn't wait to get into that chair! When the hygeniest was removing it, she was very gentle and talked to Ashley the whole time, letting her know everything that she was doing. Ashley was a little nervous, but also brave and anxious to make the transition. After it was removed, the hygenist showed her a mirror and Ashley smiled and actually squealed. Then, she asked to see her x-rays so that she can see the pictures of her adult teeth. In a kind of surprising way, she asked pointed questions like, "What am I looking at? Which ones are my six-year-old molars? Which ones are the front ones that are coming in? Will I need braces when I get older?" At this point, I'm feeling that self-doubt again. I should be asking those questions! Where the hell is my head? So, I stood up from my seat, looked at the x-rays and let Ashley show me everything. Ashley is an amazing little girl, and I am so proud of her for being so brave, so inquisitive, and so positive. I just hope that I can deliver all the things that a supermom can. Here's a picture of Ashley holding her bridge:

Friday night we went to Summertime Movies in the Park. We brought a blanket, a Taco Bell picnic dinner and parked ourselves on the grass. There must have been a couple hundred people there! They had crafts for the kids, activities and games for the families, music, prizes, etc. After making a couple of craft projects, Ashley played "red light, green light" with about a hundred other kids, we helped lead a huge conga line around the park, got up in front of this crowd and made fools of ourselves by leading the "Hokey Pokey" before finally settling down when the movie began. Derek bought Ashley a glow necklace that she used as a belt. She's so cute! It was really cool to lay there on the blanket under the stars watching Madagascar. Derek said, "hey, there's stars up there!" I looked up, held his hand, and we kind of slipped into our own world for awhile. Ashley laid back down between us and we went back to watching the movie again. That was really nice to spend some time like that together.

Yesterday was the opposite, unfortunately. Maybe it's my PMS, but it was not a good day. I was not in a good mood and I don't have any good reason. Last night was so wonderful! I wasn't very nice to Ashley and Derek and they didn't deserve it. Needless to say, I feel very guilty about it. Supermom wasn't available, that's for sure! This whole week I questioned my capabilities of living up to high expectations came to a head. After Ashley and I got home from the gym, we were working on a math workbook and we hit a mental block. She got intimidated with adding bigger numbers and couldn't remember how to add 1 + 1 all of a sudden. I said, "What is going on, Ashley? Did you turn the switch to 'off' in your brain?" She got defensive, I got mad, she refused to do anymore work, the whole thing collapsed. Derek intervened and then we started sniping at each other, which made me more defensive. I finally said that maybe I'm doing more harm than good here and maybe Ashley should go to a real school that has real teachers. I obviously can't do this. Then Ashley started crying and said that I'm a good teacher and she wants to be home schooled. I just said that I don't think that I can live up to everyone's expectations of being the one who is confident, fun, a good mom, a good wife, etc. I got my socks and shoes on and wanted to go for a walk. Ashley grabbed me by the legs like she was drowning or something and said "don't go, mommy, don't go!" So, in a huff, I took off my shoes and layed down in the fetal position on the bed and said that I'm done. I said told them to deal with the workbooks and everything else in this place themselves. For the next 15 minutes or so, it was quite. Ashley started humming a song quietly, which annoyed me at first, but then relaxed me. She gave me her doll and a kiss and told me she loved me. Derek asked me what was wrong and what he could do to make things better. I said that I didn't know, but that I felt like a failure. Derek said, "Are you kidding!? You are doing 98% of everything and you're doing great!" Then, Ashley said, "Yeah mom, you're doing great. I love you." Then she gave me a hug. Ok, so the meltdown was over at that point. Now I'm feeling guilty for torturing them. What the hell is going on with me?

That night, we went to the Promenade Mall for a free disco concert. We've never been to that mall before, so we walked around a bit. Since Ashley's birthday is coming up on August 19th, I thought that maybe we could go find some stores that she likes and she could make a birthday wish list. So we found a Disney store, a KB Toys, a Libby Lu, a Build-A-Bear, a lots of other stuff that Ashley got excited about. I took notes on the things that she wanted for her birthday and I figured that she wants about five grand worth of stuff! We promised her that we would do the best we could and that she'll have a fun birthday no matter what. So, then we decided to check out the concert. When we got there, the band was still setting up, so we decided to go back inside the mall for awhile and get Ashley an ice cream cone. Then, we got distracted exploring more of this huge mall and never made it back to the concert. We had a good time, so missing the concert wasn't a very big deal.

At the end of the day, everything ended up all right. We played some games in our room that Ashley set up with Dixie cups, unloaded the groceries that we picked up on the way home from the mall, and went to bed. As Ashley went to sleep, I was looking at her and thinking about what a wonderful person she is and how lucky I am to have her and Derek. I was feeling guilty about how I behaved earlier, but I know that they understood and they amazed me by showing me so much love and kindness through my meltdown. I fell asleep with happy thoughts and feelings knowing that, no matter what, these two are really there for me when I can't be there for them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 18 and July 19

Friday night we went to the Children's Imagination Museum in Old Town. This week, we did experiments on our five senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. There were experiment stations set up all over the museum. There was one that we liked the most, though. That was in the music room where Ashley got a prize for identifying 23 different sounds played on a CD player. Then, we all played with the musical instruments and took some pictures:

After we played with just about everything in that room, we went exploring around the museum some more. Here are some pictures of that:
Cookie decorating,

Does this taste salty, bitter, sweet, or sour?

Having fun with Bernoulli!

Saturday was a busy day. We got up early and went to Old Town to ride the horse-drawn trolley up and down Front Street. I gave Ashley the camera and told her to take pictures of our morning. Here's what she took:

After that, Ashley and I went to Gold's Gym to work out. I dropped Ashley off in the child care center which, by the way is awesome! They taught the kids anatomy and physiology of muscles and about water and then they took them into the aerobics room and applied it in a half-hour workout. How cool is that!

Then, that afternoon, we went to the Temecula Valley Museum. I gave Ashley the camera and let her take pictures of whatever she wanted. Here's what she took:

Mommy and Ashley:

Then we played dress-up!

Then, that evening, we went to Longshadow Ranch in Wine Country. We got a bottle of wine, some BBQ food, listened to this two-person band who tried to play classic rock, walked around in the grapevines, and mommy got drunk!

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off and got some ice cream to eat later. Ashley decided not to use a spoon....

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Last Two Posts

For the record, the last two posts were not posted by marsupial. They were posted by me, ashleys.mommy. I have no idea why marsupial's name is stuck at the bottom...I'll have to figure that one out (hopefully).

Concert in the Park

Last night we went to a Classic Rock concert at the Sport's Park amphitheater. I didn't plan to take pictures because we thought maybe it would be lame. Well, we were wrong! There must have been a thousand people there. Derek, Ashley, and I got right into the pit and danced our hearts out for a couple of hours! The band played all these classics and it was thrilling to see so many happy people like this!

Next week's concert is a tribute to Neil Diamond. Derek can't stand him, so maybe we'll skip that one. Derek said that "at least it's not Journey!" There will be more concerts in the following weeks at this park, and we're looking forward to going to as many as we can!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer in Temecula

Let me start off by saying that Temecula is the best place we've ever lived. If I had known how exciting it would be to live here before we moved, I would have saved myself some serious grief. That's ignorance for you! Having lived in So Cal my whole life, I have only driven through Temecula on the way to the Indian Casino's many years ago. If I had only stopped the car once in awhile to see what was around me, I would have appreciated all the life out here that I've missed.

Picking up from my last post on July 4, I'd like to write about everything we've been doing. I'll try not to sound like I'm a poster child for the Temecula Tourisim Board, but it will be hard!

On July 5, we went to a minor league baseball game at the Lake Elsinore Storm baseball stadium. It was an evening game and the weather was warm, but not hot. We used it as a field trip because we're homeschooling Ashley and we thought we could teach her about the sport and other subjects that would apply to it. As it turned out, Ashley really loved it. She not only got an educational experience out of it, but she also had fun watching the mascots jump around and dancing to the music between innings.

The next day, I found out that the hotel we're staying in has a relationship with Gold's Gym. They offer a free membership to anyone who presents a room key. Isn't that cool? So, I went to Target, bought a pair of workout shorts and started working out there almost everyday since then.

Also, as a benefit of staying in this hotel, we get tourist information about what to do, what's going on, etc. I picked up some flyers in the lobby, brought them back to our room and started filling my calendar with all the exciting events to go to. Since we've been walking around Old Town quite a bit since the Fourth of July, we are thrilled with all the events they have to offer.

First, the City of Temecula has Family Activities on Mondays - and it's free! On July 7th they had Family Karaoke Night. We skipped that one because we're not into karaoke. However, we did go to the Family Feud event on July 14. This was so fun! They set up a real stage, just like the one that you see on tv. We played against two other families and we had the time of our lives. Next Monday, July 21, they are having Snack Shack. We're going to learn how to make a couple of healthy snacks and they supply all the ingredients. So, each week we can look forward to doing something different together until the end of August.

Second, we joined a group called Fitness in Temecula. There are two groups that meet Monday - Friday at 6:30 to walk around a park. After you complete a certain number of miles, you get prizes.

Third, every Thursday evening there is a tradition of Jazz concerts in Old Town. All the stores stay open late, there's wine and cheese pairing, outdoor patio restaurants, etc. We went last Thursday and had a great time. The three of us walked all over Old Town and shared a rootbeer float while sitting across the street from the band that was playing. The weather was perfect, so that made the experience even better. We're looking forward to more Thursday nights there this summer!

Fourth, also on Thursday nights, the City of Temecula has a Summer Sunsets Concert Series. We've heard that those are a lot of fun, so we'll have to check it out some time.

Fifth, the City of Temecula has Summer Moonlight Movies in the Park ever Friday evening during July and August. Here's the description: "The movie series will be featured at various park sites within the City. Festivities begin at 6:30 pm with kids crafts and games. Movies begin at dusk. Bring a blanket, low back lawn chairs and a picnic dinner and come on down to the park for a family movie under the stars." We haven't got to that one yet, but we plan to.

Sixth, there's Friday Night at the Museum. This is at the Imagination Workshop at the Temecula Children's museum. Here's a description of it: "Home of Professor Phineas T. Pennypickle, Ph.D., scientist, time traveler and inventor of wacky and wonderful contraptions that amaze, delight and educate children and adults alike. Every surface of wall, ceiling and furniture is occupied by pulleys, gears, cables, notes, blueprents and stuff. There are secret passageways and puzzles, machines and gizmos. Professor Pennypickle and his faithful little friend Beaker have lots of fun activities planned for you every month." I only costs $5.00 per person and that's a bargain. On July 11, they had an Ice Cream Social. We learned how to make our own ice cream in a baggie and enjoy it with lots of toppings. Yum! We also went on a scavenger hunt that took us throughout the museum for two hours! This coming Friday, July 18, they are doing Secrets of the Senses. The description says: " Discover how smell, hearing, tast, sight, and touch can help you perceive the world - this will be an evening of experiments that will engage ALL your senses." We're not going to miss this one! There's a different event at the mueseum each week and they all look like fun.

In between all of this we've discovered a few things on our own.

We accidentally found the Temecula Valley Museum about a week ago. This place is worth revisiting. It has two stories that exhibits the largest collection of local history. In print, it sounds boring. In person, however, it's not. They emphasize experiences for kids "to develop a deeper understanding of local, natural and social history that explores different time periods and a variety of topics. Kids learn about historic preservation, handle museum artifacts, meet historians, geologsts and anthropologists, make take-home crafts, and participate in group activies, period games and historical field trips." They only ask for a $2.00 donation, but it's not required.

Last Saturday, we went to a Farmer's Market in Old Town. As it turns out, they have this every Saturday morning along with free horse-drawn trolley rides. There were countless farmers selling produce, restaurants that set up tents cooking up all kinds of food from all over the world, lots of opportunities to go junking, face patinting for the kids, etc. Derek and I used this as another opportunity to educate Ashley on a whole variety of subjects. It was a lot of fun and we're going back there this Saturday.

Later that same day, there was a parade in Old Town near the Children's Imagination Museum celebrating New Orleans. There were people all dressed up in costume walking on stilts, circus-like performers, jazz music, and all the things that you might see during Mardi Gras. We took Ashley there and got a few pictures.

On the way back to the car, we found a store that only sells Olive Oil and they have a bar where you can go Olive Oil tasting for free. Have you ever thought that you could go Olive Oil tasting? Out of curiosity, we wandered in there and found some wonderful stuff!

We scheduled another fun activity that evening, but we were too tired to go. Every Saturday night at this place called Longshadow Ranch, they have something called Bonfire Saturday Night. There is wine tasting, BBQ, movies in the barn for the kids, hay rides, and a band. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun, so we're going to have to try to get there soon.

On Monday, I took Ashley to Gold's Gym with me. They have a kids aerobics class for a half hour where they use a parachute, lots of balls, and an obstacle course to give the kids a fun workout. Ashley had so much fun that she didn't want to leave! Like most of the other things we do together, this is free, too!

July 8 was an interesting day. The Wildomar Library was having a magic show with animals for the kids, so we took Ashley out there for a few hours. The only thing was, when we got there, there were a couple hundred people waiting for the magic show to begin and there was no way we could get in. So, we went inside the library and discovered that they have a summer reading program for the kids that rewarded them for every three books they've read. We signed her up and found three books right away and started our list.

This evening, I believe anyway, we're going hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau. We've never been there before, but everyone I've talked to about it says that it's amazing. There are lots of trails with different elevations, wildlife, and different kinds of scenery, based on the trail you take. There are also some old abandoned adobe homes to explore and the visitors center gives you tons of educational information about what you'll find on your path.

Temecula also offers hot air balloon rides. We missed an event on July 11 called "A Glow in the Park." It was a family night at the park with live music, crafts for kids, hot air balloons glowing at dusk, and a movie. I hope they do this again so we can experience all the hot air balloons lit up against the night sky. Maybe someday this summer we'll be able to go up in a hot air balloon over wine country, too. They take you over wine country and it's supposed to be a spectacular experience.

In between all of these activities, Derek is sucessfully running our online newsstand and Ashley and I are homeschooling. The newsstand sales are doing all right it's making enough to survive. We may not be wealthy, but at least we're having fun! Ashley just finished a whole 1st grade workbook in a month, she is almost done with phase three of her phonics program, she's got her addition and subtraction flashcards basically memorized, we're doing science experiments, studying the geography of the globe and the animals that live on each continent, and the history of the U.S.

As you can see, this summer has a lot to offer. We are in a transitional period this summer, and we're making the most of it. Before moving here, I thought this summer was going to be a mess. As it turns out, we are having a summer that we will look back on with wonderful memories. This whole experience has shown us that life can be good!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fourth of July 2008 - A View from the Looking Glass

Like every other Fourth of July, there were BBQ's, fireworks, and baseball games. It seemed as though people were having a good time in the hot summer sun. However, even with all the traditional celebrating of our independence from Britain, there was an undercurrent of anxiety.

Right now, the economy is taking a spiraling downturn and it has created a stress in the air that could be felt by anyone. Vacations have been limited or canceled because of the soaring cost of fuel and food. It also didn't help that the Times ran an article titled, "Outlook Darker as Jobs are Lost and Wages Stall." We all know that the country that we were celebrating is in trouble. However, there were still patriotic bumper stickers and flags waving everywhere, demonstrating a hope of the fundamental basics that so many fought and died for, and continue to do so. Currently, we are fighting a debilitating war in Iraq without any idea of how to pay for it - or how to end it. No one has any idea how to cope with the crisis, or turn the economy around. Locks are being changed and homes are being foreclosed on across the country and working families who are lucky enough to meet their mortgage payments are watching their neigborhoods decline. We can build very expensive new football and baseball stadiums around the country, but we can't help the people in New Orleans or help reconstruct the World Trade Center site that was destroyed almost seven years ago.

Our executive branch is out of control as well. For example, George Washington prohibited the torture of captives in wartime, but the executive branch not only condones it, but it actively promotes it. This year, when we vote for a new president, we have the perfect opportunity to bring the truth into the sunlight. We'll have the opportunity to take a realistic look at all the trivia and sort out who will move us forward and actually plug up the drain that we're circling. The executive branch does not have a divine right to waste our resouces and our people's lives for their own personal gain.

Patriotism is great, but when you're waving a flag over a constitution that has been essentially been used as fuel to light a fire to hell, then we need to take a closer look at what's most important here. Who is running this show, anyway? I'll tell you who. It's big money, a paralyzed political process, a neglected infrastructure, a huge divide between the very wealthy and everyone else, and a catastrophic drop in the way the rest of the world views us.

Let the Fourth of July holiday remind us that we need to roll up our sleeves to better position ourselves and set the standard for the 21st century. The U.S. still has enormous economic and military power, but that privledge cannot be wasted indefinately. We all need to take an honest and firm stand with the state of the nation and be creative with ideas for moving forward. As Americans, our lives have gotten out of hand, but we can take it back by being vocal with our opinions and voting with our own best interests in mind.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Getting to know our new neighborhood

Yesterday we went to the Temecula Duck Park. Now, I don't know what was in that lake besides water, but there were some weird looking ducks. I took a picture of a duck that had a poofy coiffe on top of its head and a curly-q tail. We named him the Jose Eber duck. Then we saw a duck that looked like it was a cross between a penguin and a duck. Very strange. We named this one Pingu. There were lots of pretty white ducks and mallards that our dog, Katie, chased all over the place, too. Poor ducks!

Here are some more pictures of the ducks:

And one ticked-off bird!

Today we went to see a magic show at a library in Wildomar. There must have been a couple hundred people there and we couldn't get in. So instead, we signed Ashley up for a summer reading program. She has to read three books a week and she gets a prize each time.

There's not much more going on until Thursday night when mommy has a Daisy Scout meeting.

Then, on Friday, the Daisy Scouts are going to be in a Fourth of July Parade in Corona. Yeah!! We are really looking forward to that. In the afternoon, we're going to a park in Temecula for Fourth of July events and fireworks. As it turns out, Temecula is a favorite vacation spot for the Fourth!

Saturday is going to be fun, too. We're going blueberry picking at 8:00 (or around that time). Then, at 6:15, we're going to Longshadow Ranch for Bonfire Saturday Night. They'll be having live music, BBQ (nominal fee), horse-drawn carriage rides, wine, and kids movies in the barn. Best of all, it's free! They do this every Saturday night, so we're really excited about that.

Another thing they do in Old Town for free is Thursday Night Market Place. Every Thursday night there's family fun, Old Town merchants and area produce growers, artisans, and food vendors. We're planning on going to that, too.

I swear, I have lived in So Cal my whole life and didn't know how much went on here in this city. Living here feels like living on a vacation. There is so much to do! We live about a mile from Old Town and within walking distance of just about anything you can think of! Before we moved here, I was not happy about living in a hotel, even temporarily. But, this place is nice and we're having a blast! I actually feel like we are taking a summer vacation in Wine Country! Isn't that cool?