First-ish day of school

If your kids are in day care there is no real “first day”. They go year round. Oh sure, there is an “official” first day, but at the boy’s school they move up classes in the summer so when school starts it is nothing new.

Either way, for the first day of school, I like to get the boy’s teachers a little something. It is not so much a “please like my kid this year” but more of a “thanks for putting up with us this summer” gift.

The May move up time is hard for everyone and Zach and James are no different. They are good for the first week of the new classes then they are terrible the second. They both clung to my legs at drop off and James (of course) cried hysterically.

Then I quit my job only two weeks later. They still went every day, but more like 9ish to 3ish. We just moseyed on up there in the morning and I went to get them after James woke up from his nap at 3.

Then last week they were no longer “extended day”, when I could come and go as I pleased. We were “day school” with hard and fast hours of 9 to 2. No dropping off early (there are signs) and the teachers are waiting for you with your children in the lobby at 2.

Needless to say it has been a rough two weeks. It was like the move up time all over again. Both boys are clinging to me, James does not nap as long and Zach gets zero rest time either. Hot. Mess.

But both boy’s teachers have been wonderful. They were wonderful and patient in May and they were wonderful and patient now. They have been so supportive of my decision. They all ask how I have been doing, encouraging me and are just all around the great teachers you hope your kids have.

For the “real” first day, I wanted to get them a little something to say thank you for putting up with the Walls and all our changes this summer. I had purchased, on a whim, some blue and yellow school bus boxes from Randall’s and when I spotted these tags, my vision for the gift clicked into place. (Normal. This is totally, totally normal.) I could tuck some powdered cinnamon sugar donuts inside. However, the tags, which are darling, were not the right colors.

So I made my own.

I know, can you believe it? Of course, when I showed Alex, he was so mortified by the cheesy pun he could not focus on the yellow frame, various fonts and donuts clip art. He constantly ruins my visions. But I knew you, my 10 followers, would be all over it.

Plus, I have put them here for anyone else that needs an easy thank you for putting up with me/my child gift.

Zach tried to get those gross mini-donuts with the chocolate on them. I mean, what did he think, this was his gift to the teachers or something? Just because I had him give them to them?

He is still unclear about my selfish crafting ways.

A special first

Each time we left the hotel to drive into La Jolla for food or the beach, we would take this scenic, winding road that overlooked the ocean. Both boys loved to yell, “OCEAN!” the second it came into view.

One night we were driving back from dinner and playing at the La Jolla rec center, and we pointed out that the sun was setting. Zach said he had never seen a sunset which took me a back a bit. But it made sense as his bedtime is usually before the sun goes down.  He asked if he could see it and of course we had to stop then and there.

So Alex pulled onto the side of the road so the boys could watch the sun seting into the Pacific Ocean. He also put them on the roof of the car. I felt that was going a tad far, but Zach loved it.

James was less impressed.

And he kept calling the sun, the moon. 

It was so special to me, being there for my babies’ first sunset. Not a “first” I ever would have thought about, but it was a good one.

Turns out James really was impressed as even now that we are back he will say, “Moon, ocean” which equals sunset into the ocean, if you speak James.

When it is so, so hot

I have been known to get a little desperate….and take my children to Chuck E Cheese. I know, don’t even start. 

I was actually re-introduced to Chuck by Zach’s friend Ben’s mom, Laura. She is not normally someone who enjoys chain restaurants that sing to you, however, she really likes the safety features of Chuck’s. When you enter, everyone is stamped with an invisible number that can only been seen by a black light. No one gets out without getting checked. Another plus, they have a decent salad bar – who knew?
So last week when it was 100 degrees here and I had the boys with me after swim lessons I knew the one place we needed to go. It was 10:30 a.m. in case you were wondering.
I gave Zach a handful of coins and let him loose on the games. For some reason I tried to get a bit ticket greedy and help him “win” some of the games – like I need any of the crap they get with the tickets. I had to calm it on down
James just liked the rides. I am pretty sure he rode the mini-carousel 8 times. He liked to wave at me every time he passed me, which was every 5 seconds. He and Zach both crawled all the way up into the climbing structure, which was the first time James had done that. I think he liked the view while he dropped. Classy, that baby.
He also was fascinated with the animatronic animals that, I am pretty sure, have been there since the 80’s. I can’t even take a photo of them because they creep me out and I think they might come to life on my phone. Not James, he kept pointing and clapping at them as we heard them “sing” Summertime”three times.
One of the rides is a car with Chuck in the passenger seat that also takes a photo of the driver. I put James in and he immediately climbed on top of Chuck’s lap. Zero stranger danger here.

When I went to retrieve his photo I noticed that another child had left his/hers behind. Turns out it was my other child.

Random right? 
Anyway, judge if you will but if you have suggestions of what to do with two busy boys when it is 100 degrees that does not involve making a foil water path, do let me know. Otherwise we will be at Chuck’s again. 
Pizza, salad and playtime for $20? Done and done.

Don’t yell at me before breakfast

Before we went to the zoo the Tuesday we were in San Diego, I wanted to try Snooze Eatery, a breakfast spot I found searching on Pinterest. The blogger said to get there early, as it fills up. Since we were up at 5:45 every day this would not be a problem.

However, this particular day, the boys finally adjusted to the time change and slept until 7:00 a.m. so we didn’t roll in until around 8:30 or 9. And we had to wait about 20 minutes. I am not complaining, but let’s just think about that – it was 9 a.m. on a Tuesday…do people not work in San Diego? Who are these people? It was not stay at home mom’s either. I was fascinated.

It is in the north part of downtown so parking is a bit tough. Alex stopped to let the boys and I out so he could go park and we could get in line. A woman sweeping around the entrance to the parking garage he was partially blocking was not pleased with this decision. Let me just say that a car pulled into that garage he was partially blocking, while we were there. She started yelling at me, “He can’t park there!” to which I replied, “He is not, he is just dropping us off” as I am visibly struggling to get a chubby two year old and a wiggly four year old out of the car. She would not let it go. She must have yelled at me five times while I am getting the boys out of the car. Even after he had pulled out and I was now 10 feet from her, she kept yelling, “He can’t park there!” and, with my children, I did the same, “I KNOW he is leaving, can’t you see that??!!”.  Alex said at one point when he was driving off he said to himself, “Is Kinsey getting into a fight on the street?”. Basically.

I already had to get into it with other guests at the Sheraton AND a woman who was banging on the door of a restroom Zach was in. Let’s just say, aside from the awesome customer service people we encountered I was not left with a great feeling toward San Diego/La Jolla-ians.  I would like to note that I have not had to yell at anyone, not related to me, here in Houston ummmm ever, I am pretty sure.

But back to Snooze. James enjoyed the free water in small plastic cups while we were waiting. Zach tried to get on me about letting him drink it until I reminded him that I could read. And the sign said it was for drinking while waiting. Calm it on down, narc.

It is in a very cool industrial space and the people could not have been nicer. No one seemed to mind two little boys hanging on the bar.

Our waitress, Tara I believe, by far made up for the crazy sweeping lady. She was young and darling and so, so sweet to the boys. The boys had waffles, which were made into a cabin shape, I had a delicious egg sandwich on a pretzel bun. Alex had bacon and eggs. So un-adventurous, that one.

It is very close to the zoo, which was perfect for us that day. Zach really wanted to get on these bikes and had a hard time understanding they were for tying your bike up to, not riding.

So if you are headed to San Diego, make Snooze your stop before the zoo. You won’t be disappointed.

Proof of Life

The weekend before we went to San Diego I took a solo trip with some of the Vegas girls to the Guadalupe River. 
It was an awesome weekend filled with nothing but talking, toobing, eating and drinking wine and Bud Light Lime (drink it if you go to the river, you can thank me later). Alex was appalled by our lack of activity. I was so lazy I took zero photos. Luckily my friend Joanna (the front in red) was on it and packed a water proof camera for the toob. She gives an excellent rundown of the weekend on her blog, so I will spare you the full details. And she describes all of us perfectly. Of course I say that as she gave me a glowing recommendation, and you know I like people who think I am funny. 

Aren’t we beauties? Three of the five of us were wearing long sleeve rash guards (get one immediately if you don’t have one) and everyone had a terrible, wide brimmed river hat.

Saturday morning everyone had heard from their husbands and/or spoken to their children, except me.

Of course.

I finally had to ask for a proof of life photo of my children who were in Alex’s care for exactly 24 hours before the Walls took over. This is the photo I received.

Really? A Spongebob tattoo for James? As it was fading off later in the week he would say, “Oh no, tatattoooo!”

As they usually do, the Walls swooped in and took the boys out to their house for Saturday night. Liv has said that she knows I would prefer Alex have to take care of them all on his own, which is partially true. However, now I just can’t fault them. Because a) I did the exact same thing when Alex was gone and b) I will do the exact same thing with my babies. The second McKayla or Sophie leave for the weekend I will be swooping in to save my grand babies from their fathers and spend time with them without their bothersome mothers.

And look, they are already much happier than in the photo from their father. Well, James looks the same but don’t pay attention to him.

Vacation by the numbers

Numbers are not my thing, as everyone knows. I really don’t like them and find any time I have to use them highly, highly annoying. But instead of inundating you with post, after post, of our vacation photos, I thought I would simplify it and just do one long one. You are welcome. That is not to say I don’t have a few things I want to highlight in future posts, but this covers the majority of it.

Looking back I can remember all the good times about our vacation, but you guys, it was long. Especially the ride home where we were together in a steel tube from 10am to 6pm. I had to give us all M&Ms at one point so James would stop crying and I would not start.

But both boys still talk about it and Zach, especially, had a great time everywhere we went. At one point in the pool he really did say, “I am having the best time!”. Which is all we can ask for.

Cities visited: 2 (San Diego and La Jolla)
Days in adjoining hotel rooms with my children: 7
Nights James slept through the night: 1
Altercations Kinsey got in with fellow Sheraton residents: 2
Days Zach, James and Alex got in the pool, even though it was 70 degrees and overcast: 6
Days I got in the pool: 2

Attractions visited while in California: 4 (San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Zoo, Legoland and USS Midway)

Number of times James said. “Cheetah run!” after we saw the cheetah run a 100 meter dash in 5 seconds: 543
Strollers rented because we forgot ours: 3

Number of times James scowled at me from the strollers: 14

Giraffes seen roaming around the Safari Park and shouted at by James: 10
Lions we heard roaring: 1 (which was pretty cool)

Beaches visited: 4
Children who enjoyed the beach: 1 (Zach)
Parent who enjoyed the beach: 1 (Alex, duh)

People it took to put sunscreen on James: 2

 Aircraft carriers visited: 1

 Parents who wanted to leave the children here: 1 (name omitted)

Times the iPad was watched before going to bed: 6

 Number of children at Legoland without swimsuits running through the water: 2

 Number of white trash babies running through the water in a non-swim diaper: 1

Water rides ridden by Zach and Alex: 1
Water rides ridden by Kinsey and Zach: 1 (I know, I am surprised too)

Trains ridden: 1
Sunscreen needed: 1 entire tube
Four year olds who had “The BEST time!”: 1

First sunsets seen: 1
Children who sat on the roof of a car for the first time: 2

Incline of the hill Alex pushed the stroller up to reach the polar bears: 45

Wayne hats worn: 1
Gondola’s ridden: 2
Panda’s seen from the air because Alex and I were too impatient to wait in the panda viewing line: 1

 Stuffed animals purchased: 2

Family photos taken: 1

The greatest show on earth

Is also the longest show on earth. They are really proud of all the circus acts in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus.

I have very fond memories of going to the circus with my dad’s parents, Jane and Harvey. We would go every summer I came to visit until I got too old to go. So I thought this year since Zach is four he would really enjoy it and it would be something we could do together.

Before the show they open up the area where the animals are held for the entire audience. You get to walk very close to all the animals. And I will say, these were some of the most beautiful animals I had ever seen. The horses had perfectly brushed coats, the elephants were clean and the tigers and lions were just spectacular.

 This was my favorite part for sure. We got this close to the elephants,

and the tigers.

And the five female lions. Zach started to get a tad scared at this point. Granted they were about 5 feet away from him but I told him to just stand there for one photo. And please, they were not coming for him. There were way chubbier kids there. He is turning into all knees and elbows like his dad.

We could then walk out onto the space where the actual show took place. They had some clowns doing acts, a bounce house and then they brought one of the elephants out.

On a side note: do clowns fascinate anyone else? I really, really want to know how this became their calling. How did they decide being a clown was for them? And what do they do when they are not with the circus? It took everything in me not to corner a clown and ask him.

We had great seats and just a little bit of popcorn to hold us over.

I thought the circus would be an hour or an hour and a half tops. We were going to have the popcorn as a snack and then go have lunch.

False. It started at 10 and didn’t end until 1:30. So basically my child ate popcorn and a soft pretzel for lunch. Washed down with lemonade in a tiger cup.

But it really was a great show. I was also fascinated by the circle of death here, where one man was in the ring with one male lion, the five female lions and two tigers. I was petrified the entire time. I was planning in my head the conversations we would have to have when that man got attacked. You know we would be talking about it for months.

Zach said his favorite parts were the elephants, the motorcycle riders and the horses running. Some people brought their two year olds and those people are fools. Thankfully my two year old was at school yelling at someone else for the morning.

Four under four

The weekend of James’ birthday, my sister and her family came to town. The plan was for them to stay for James’ party, which was on Sunday afternoon. However, all hell broke loose in the afternoon so they had to get out of Houston and back home to Dallas in a hurry. I am pretty sure us deciding to go to the Aquarium the morning of the birthday had something to do with it.

Here are my nieces, Vivian on the left and Charlotte (you can call her Chuck, I do) on the right.

 I don’t know if you can clearly see how skinny Vivi is. She is like James, really needs to eat some more.

Don’t they look precious in their fireworks shirts? Lauren was skeptical that Chuck would wear her shorts that matched Vivi’s since she is very into dresses. However, she caved under the pressure of “Auntie made this shirt for you!” which I appreciated.

So the morning of the 7th, still in their fireworks shirts, we loaded up and headed to the Aquarium to ride the train, the Ferris wheel and see the fish.

Chuck was highly skeptical of the Ferris wheel. With good reason.

These pictures clearly make it look like Dewayne and Lauren were riding the Ferris wheel alone. In truth, both girls were clinging to them for dear life.

Our boys knew they were in an open air death machine and just went with it. I call it “independence”.

The girls loved the aquarium and Dewayne bought everyone a stuffed sting ray after visiting the sting ray pool. Only Charlotte, Dewayne and Alex actually touched a sting ray.

 I love this photo. Uncle Alex holding Chuck’s hand and her pink sting ray.

Even if we are only together for 24 hours I love to spend time with the Bailey’s. It is always a hot mess of someone sleeping, someone crying, someone eating and someone yelling. But the kids love their cousins and it makes me wish we lived closer. Though once we get these children out of diapers and they stop being so terrible, we can take road trips more often. A definite benefit of my new flexible schedule.

What If

I think we all have our fair share of “what ifs”. As in, what if I had not gotten that job or moved to that city? What if I had chosen a different major?

Well, I thought a lot about that on our vacation to lovely La Jolla, California last week. When I was younger my family visited San Diego and I decided I wanted to go to the University of California at San Diego. For sure. The weather is perfect here and there is a beach (you know, so great for a super pale redhead). I felt this was my place.

Of course as I got older it seemed my place would be the University of Texas at Austin.

But what if I had worked harder in school. What if I had really, really tried my hardest to get in and then somehow convinced my parents to go along with that? What would my life be like?

Well I would not have met my friend Laura in the Delta Gamma house.

I would not have moved to Houston after college, where she would introduce me to her high school friend, Alex.

So poof – no little walls.

So what if I had gone to college here in La Jolla? What would my life have turned out to be?
Here are my guesses after spending some time here.
1. My children would be named Kai and Everly.
2. I would have a girl (Everly) as well as a boy because I would not have married a man who should have been royalty, with all the males in his linage.
3. I would never straighten my hair, instead insist my (at best wavy) hair is “naturally curly”.
4. I would not own anything Tory Burch (TB is all over Houston).
5. I would be so comfortable, wearing my large capri pants, loose fitting tank tops with hoody sweat shirts (you guys, it is chilly here).
6. I would own many of those natural baby carriers and use them to carry Kai to meet my mommy friends at the beach for baby and me yoga.
7. I would know what hemp is.
8. I would like how men look in flat brim hats.
9. I would be totally in shape as you can exercise outside in the middle of July. Or December. Or whenever you want.
10. My husband would take the children to the park on the beach on Saturday morning with all the other dads.

Pretty different for sure. But after spending a week in great, cool weather I was still glad to get back to 100 degree Houston. It really is my place.