Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Getting Your Fix

It's only been a few days since my last post, but already fans of this blog are writing, telling me "I [need] my Adventures of Don Carey and family fix."

Well, here it is.

Anna had her last game party of the summer today. It was starting to look like seven or eight kids might come, but in the end only four showed up.

It's amazing how much work I can get out of her before one of these parties. Six days a week she acts like she's being tortured when I ask her to do any little thing. Then, on Game Day, she turns into some kind of drill sergeant and starts barking orders and cleaning like crazy.

It's truly remarkable what a little social pressure can do.

Speaking of social pressure, I stayed up way too late last night (this morning!) finishing up Harry Potter #7. I believe this was the best of the series. I can't believe it ended with Harry


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Trial of Accepting Service

After a big start, this week has kept us hopping. By the end of today, the girls will have had three play dates with people in the ward - two involving swimming pools.

Also, our big overgrown back yard was the site of the Young Men service project. One of the leaders has a little tractor with a brush hog on the back, and as with any expensive toy he is always looking for an excuse to use it. Alyssa got to ride on his lap for a few turns. She had a great time.

It's always hard for me to be the subject of a service project. It's not so much the help I mind, but being in a position to need the help. Last summer before we moved, the ward came over to clean the house and yard. There were easily 100 people, half outside ripping weeds and cutting grass, and the other half inside cleaning everything in sight.

While the help was greatly appreciated, I'm still not sure how I got through that episode without a nervous breakdown. I sure felt close several times.

There was no danger of that on Wednesday, though. Having young men cutting our grass/weeds is a lot easier to accept than having the Relief Society scrubbing out our toilets.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Six Flags Over Texas, Part 4

Anna noticed the stillness first. As we walked from our car towards the front gate at Six Flags, she said "it doesn't seem like any of the rides are going." I looked around, and saw that she was right. Also, people were streaming out of the park like fire ants. We weren't the only ones going in, but the sight of so many people leaving in the early evening just as the park was cooling off unnerved me a bit.

We stopped at the restrooms, and I overheard someone saying something about the rides closing down. I did not like the sound of that.

Sure enough, most of the rides had garbage cans and chains barring the entrances. The girls noticed that the teacups were running, but I wanted to find out why the others were stopped. I asked the attendant at the Conquistador, and he said the problem was the lightening and wind that had come by, but he expected the rides would reopen soon.

We rode the teacups again, then the Conquistador, then went to see what other rides were open. On the way, we saw many of the characters in costume. Although she was excited to see them, this is as close as Alyssa would ever get to any of them.

Anna told me that she wanted to wear a character costume when she grew up. I'm not sure she would feel the same way if it were 110 in the shade.

We rode La Vibodora several more times, and then I made a tragic mistake on the teacups.

The ride operator was constantly egging everyone on about spinning their teacups faster. So I decided to let my manliness take over and give the girls a real spin. I spun the teacup so fast that even Anna begged me to slow down.

And then my own body turned against me. It had had enough, and let me know that I was going to be sick. I stopped spinning immediately and waited for the ride to end. And I waited and waited and waited, but the ride kept going. My throat got tight and my stomach churned, and I did all of the tricks I could think of to keep my dinner to myself.

It was enough - barely.

When the teacups finally stopped, the attendant announced that he had given us a triple ride. I exited much greener than I had started.

By this point, it was dark, and most people had left the park. The girls rode the Sombrero over and over again without getting off. I told them they could ride as many times as they wanted, but I was done.

I did finally get settled enough to go on the Scrambler. Alyssa was so cute with her hands in the air, I just had to get this picture.

We stayed until just before the park closed. By this point, the smell of the funnel cakes and asphalt were enough to make me ill, and the girls were both plenty tired.

I got them to bed, and after a hot shower my stomach finally settled enough that I could go to bed myself.

This morning I was reminded that I am no longer a teenager. My body is getting ready to celebrate it's 40th anniversary, and it is requesting that I treat it with a little more respect in the future.

We'll see.

Six Flags Over Texas, Part 3

When we arrived at Six Flags yesterday morning, I asked the attendant at the parking booth if the fee was good for leaving and returning. He surprised me by saying that it was - I was prepared to pay it twice so we could go home and have our dinner, but this was even better. So I paid him the fifteen dollars (perversely charging it to my Disney Rewards Visa) and picked out a place in the lot.

We left that afternoon just at the start of rush hour, so it was pretty slow going on the way home. That was OK, though, as Anna and I were listening to Dragon Rider on audio book and Alyssa quickly fell asleep. Traffic lightened up once we got through Fort Worth, and I thought we were home free.

But then as we got to the edge of the city, traffic began to crawl again. I correctly guessed that the problem was related to the lightening dancing through the dark sky to the west. Soon we were in torrential rains and moving along at a snails pace.

As we got into Willow Park, the rain was horrific. The grass along the edges of the freeway and in the median had become great cesspools, and when we finally made our way off of the interstate we were met with water more than a foot deep running swiftly over the road that leads to our house.

Full size four-wheel drive pickups were turning around. Our little Honda didn't stand a chance. I turned to get back on the freeway, when I remembered a back road that we could use, It was higher than the main road, although there were still several places where the water ran inches deep.

We reached the intersection with the main road, and could see white-water rapids roaring through the ditch and over driveways across the street, and spilling across the road to our south. Fortunately we were turning north. I was tempted to stop and take a picture, but there were cars behind me and I was anxious to get home.

All around us lightening flashed, and the thunder answered with barely any delay. We quickly ran into the house and, after making sure the water was staying outside where it belonged (our house is the highest in the neighborhood), I tried to decide what to do about the rest of the day.

Alyssa's heart was set on going back to Six Flags, but it wouldn't be worth it if it was raining at the park, and if the flash floods kept up we wouldn't be able to get back to the freeway. We decided to eat dinner and see what happened.

I checked the interactive radar map at weather.com, and decided that the storms were going to stay just to the west of Six Flags. I called the girls together, and we said a prayer, asking for guidance. By the time we were done eating, the rain had slowed, and we felt good about returning to the park.

The storm, which was traveling southward, was now heaviest over Fort Worth, and we drove through some very heavy rain. We were 3/4 of the way there, and the storm was as strong as ever. Anna was sure the park would be closed, but I told her to wait and see.

When we were within seven miles of the park, the rain slowed, the sky lightened, and by the time we were five miles away, the rain had stopped.

We made it to the park without further incident, but our adventure for the day was far from over.

Coming up in Part 4 - The Beginning of the End

Six Flags Over Texas, Part 2

For a day of spinning, twisting, dropping and rocking, the very beginning was rather ominous. I awoke with a rumble in my tummy, and not the hungry kind, either. With some help from Harry Potter and the bathroom exhaust fan, I managed to get some relief for my agitated intestines, but I was concerned about the implications of taking on an amusement park with an already queasy inside.

I was mindful of the irritation in my bowels during lunch, and made an effort not to eat too much. I also set a strict 30-minute minimum before our next wild ride. For Anna, this was an invitation to go to the gift shop.

I did my best to keep her from buying cheap jewelry at the not-cheap gift shop prices. "Buy something with a Six Flags logo - something to remind you of the visit," I said. Instead, she ended up buying one of these little fuzzy worm puppet things. Some kids at school had one, and she wanted it really bad but hadn't been able to find them anywhere.

I had one when I was a kid; I bought it out of a machine in the front of K-Mart for a quarter. Anna's cost her five bucks.

Alyssa really wanted a "bone" figure. I explained that this wasn't Wishbone - it was Scoobie-Doo. She gave me a look that said "Whatever. Just give me my money."

Twenty-eight minutes after lunch, we started into the spinning rides, like the teacups and sombrero. Spinning is OK, but I wanted a real ride. I wanted La Vibora. (OK, actually I wanted the Titan and the Texas Giant, but let's be realistic here.)

The line for La Vibora was 30 minutes long. Not bad by amusement park standards, but the longest wait of our day. Anna fussed and complained and told me over and over again that they didn't like that ride. I explained that she had never been on that ride, and once she went on it she could tell me she didn't want to do it again, but I was sure she would like it.

So we pressed forward in the hot Texas afternoon, inching along with the sweating mass of thrill-seeking humanity for a chance at the bobsled-inspired roller-coaster. When it was done, Anna had a new favorite ride.

But thirty minutes was too long to wait, especially when the Conquistador required no wait at all. So we rode it again, then went off to ride the train. My innards needed something a little more sedate.

Alyssa said she wanted to eat. I told her we had just finished lunch, but she persisted. "Dot dot dot" she said. I had to admit, Dippin' Dots sounded pretty good, and might even settle my tummy. So I bought us each a pouch of the micro-dot sized frozen ice cream, which we ate on the train (the lady said we could, even though the sign said we couldn't.)

We spun and whirled around on the other side of the park, and I talked the girls into the parachute drop. I got my one true thrill of the day on that one. As the little gondola lifted up above the trees, I realized that both my girls and I were going to fall and die right then. But we didn't. Instead, we saw a great view of Arlington.

It wasn't long after this ride that the cranky grouchies joined our party and announced it was time for dinner. I had a great plan to go home, eat dinner, have everyone take a quick nap, and come back to the park to finish out the day.

This plan did not come together quite the way I imagined it.

Coming up in Part 3 - Nature's Heart-Pounding Action

Six Flags Over Texas, Part 1

Today my children are singing my praises. My body is threatening to revolt. Yesterday's trip to Six Flags was filled with adventure of epic proportions.

Here's how it went down.

We arrived at the park around 10:30 am, forty-five minutes after leaving home. We were all in high spirits, despite missing the park opening by thirty minutes. We walked the short distance from our
parking space near a tree to the front gate. The air was moist and still, but not unbearably hot.

The girls had been studying a park map for over a week, and we knew right where we wanted to
begin. We walked from the entrance gate at the south end of the park to the north-east corner, where the Mine Train roller coaster lived.

One of my main goals in this trip was to get the girls to try new things, especially roller coasters, and I saw this as a good entry level ride. We hit the Gunslinger on the way, and it was a nice, mellow thrill to start our day.

We then did the Mine Train, which Anna liked except for the "big" drop at the end. (There was nothing big about this coaster.) I tried explaining that drops were the best part of roller coaster riding, but she would have none of it. Alyssa liked the ride as well, though she spent the whole time in her classic ride position - head buried firmly in my side. Then when it was done, she asked to ride again.

We wound our way through the park, riding bigger and faster rides as we went along. We topped out with a trip on the Conquistador - a swinging ship ride that is always a favorite. Anna has a closed-eye philosophy when it comes to rides that are "fun."

Then it was off to the nice shaded picnic area for a lunch of PBJ, chips, grapes, and hard boiled eggs. That was Alyssa's main request.

Coming up in Part 2 - Bigger, Stronger, Faster!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Just Call Me Crazy

First it was a free Cracker Barrel kids meal turning into a family dinner. Now it's a free Six Flags ticket turning into a day of fun and nausea.

I'll take the camera so you can join in the excitement.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

O Pioneer

Today our Stake had a Pioneer Day celebration at the park. We had a real pioneer breakfast of pancakes from powdered mix (the Costco variety) and Kirkland brand imitation maple syrup.

There were some fun games, too. Anna took a stab at the potato peeling contest. She did pretty well, considering the first time she actually put a vegetable peeler into action was this past week when she decided the peeler looked like a fun tool. I have to agree.

She also participated in the tug of war and the wagon races. She didn't want to risk personal injury in the nail pounding and log cutting competitions.

Alyssa's participation only went as far as watching and pouting. But she had fun on the swings and slide.

There was also a pioneer day parade, that involved walking around the park and singing "Pioneer Children."

Sadly, my journalistic responsibilities prevented me from walking with them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Serve - Set - Spike!

This week's summer activity was volleyball for Anna. The local high school put on a "camp" two hours a day for pre-teen girls, and Anna said she would be interested.

I did not realize when I signed her up that she had never actually used a volleyball in its official capacity.

Didn't they play volleyball in PE? Apparently not. Unfortunately, I didn't find this out until I was walking her into the gym on Monday. Had I known this earlier, I could have given her a few pointers.

Now, clearly I'm no volleyball wizard (see evidence above) but volleyball is one of the few sports where I have enough confidence in my ability to take part in a pick-up game now and then, like this one last May at the Kahuku Class of '86 reunion. (It helped that everyone else was as old and decrepit as me.)

No matter, though. Anna had a good time, and at the end of the workshop she got a certificate as one of the most improved. And she got a new volleyball, so we can both get some practice.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

So, What's In the Box?

The box from Exotic Meats came today. It contained:

1 Kangaroo Loin Fillet
1 Guinea Fowl
1 Llama Top Sirloin Roast
2 Squab and
6 Yak Patties

Such are the joys of the rotation diet.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Clean Up In Bulk Foods, Aisle 2

This afternoon I was the accidental perpetrator of the Great Adzuki Bean Escape. My apologies to the Whole Foods bulk aisle broom pusher.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Great to be Eight!

Today was Alyssa's birthday. It started out much too early for how late yesterday ended, but I can't really complain. I turned eight once, too.

The day started with a heap of presents and cinnamon bread muffins around a birthday votive. (Isn't that what they use at your house?) She got some pretty good stuff, too - a GameBoy with a couple of kid games, some Pla-Doh, track for her wooden train, and of course, Spider-Man pajamas.

She also got two puzzles, and she did them both by herself today. 25 piece puzzles are too simple for her, but she's not quite able to do 100s by herself. I worked very hard to find her one 35 and one 50 piece puzzle.

She really wanted to go to the park, so when she got back from speech therapy at school, we went to the nearby Bearcat park. This is where we're going to have her big friend birthday party. Someday - hopefully in a couple of weeks. I've REALLY got to get it together!

Then for dinner we ended up at the Cracker Barrel. The one closest to our house still has a smoking section (!) but there's another not too much farther in the other direction with clean air, so that's where we went.

All the way back, Alyssa played the Dora game on her GameBoy. "She didn't even let me play," complained Anna.


Monday, July 9, 2007

The Return of "Baby Anna"

It's been almost a year. I tried to hold out even longer, but I'm tired. I gave out I caved in.

I got out the box of "Baby Anna" videos.

I knew this day was coming. The box of VHS tapes has been in the trunk of the car for several weeks now, but kept a secret from the girls. I finally got them out for Alyssa this afternoon.

I can't complain too much about the home videos, as I shot most of them myself. They really aren't that bad. They aren't that GOOD, of course. but not that bad, either. No worse than yours.

The problem is that Alyssa likes them. A lot. More than any other videos we have. I guess it's good that she loves her mother and father and sister and cousins and aunties and uncles and grandparents more than Dora or Blue or even Spiderman.

But the way Alyssa watches these videos is the very definition of "ad nauseum." And now, after an eleven month hiatus, they're back.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lube and Inspection, Please

I am very excited to have found an auto shop with WiFi. It allows me to work or blog while my vehicle is getting treatment. Today it's the car, getting an oil change and state inspection. I wouldn't normally think of coming to a place like this on a Saturday, but it's July 7th and I've pushed the grace period long enough.

My biggest concern about coming on a Saturday is the crowd and the wait. But today, I seem to have lucked out. This is the first Saturday in weeks where the sun is out and the clouds are small and fluffy. Consequently, everyone else is at the lake, and I have the place to myself. More or less.

We got our bike ride in this morning, and the whining got left at home. Hooray! It was pretty warm, and Kara dressed up in sweats to start her sauna routine, which she finished by sitting in the truck when we got back. Only one bike has a water bottle rack, so I put a vegetable-picking apron on backwards and put three bottles in it. I'm not sure we really needed two water breaks on our little route, but I didn't feel like arguing the point.

After I'm done here I'll be off to the toy store for birthday shopping. Alyssa turns 8 on Thursday, and we have a lot to do to get ready. She has a small list of friends she wants to invite to her party, so we need to get the word out ASAP. We'll have it at her favorite park.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

How I Spent My 4th of July

We had a pretty good day yesterday. Not perfect, but pretty good. We only had two activities planned for the day - a family bike ride and a swimming/fireworks party at the house of a friend from church.

Although Kara, Alyssa and I all got our bikes for Christmas, Kara hadn't been riding with us because we couldn't quite figure out how to have her ride with her bottle of TPN. That is no longer a problem now. The other issue was that one bike needed repairs and adjustments due to it being assembled by a monkey with a learning disorder. This took an hour or so, and while there was no
set time for our ride the riders thought it should take place 15 minutes before the repairs were done.

The ride was over our traditional two mile course of roads that slope so gently you only notice it when you are on a bicycle. Each of us took turns whining about things - the fit of helmets; the heat of the day; too slow; too fast; too thirsty. I spent my time whining about the whiners.

Despite all the whining though, Kara later said the little ride was the most fun she'd had in a long time. Hopefully we can go out again on Saturday, sans whining.

The day turned out warmer and nicer than was forecast. I did end up making a trip to a store in Arlington to get more pheasant for Kara, and on the way back I got some of the little throw-pop things for the girls. Alyssa asked for them by name, so I couldn't really refuse.

The party started at 8:00, and Kara decided that she would stay at home and do her oxygen and get ready for today's trip to Dallas. I had hoped she would come, if just for a few minutes to meet some people and maybe watch some fireworks, but I respect her decision to protect her health.

We were asked to bring a "family favorite" side or dessert. We had a beautiful bunch of spinach that Kara had decided not to use in her rotation diet, so I made a spinach, feta, grape and vinaigrette salad. I had Anna help by cutting up the grapes. "I don't remember this being a family favorite," she grumbled.

I was surprised to see it was the only salad there, and it went quickly. Anna even had some, and commented that she felt very proud that she had helped to make it. Hooray for little victories!

The fireworks over the lake were all done by the homeowners. Based on the size of the homes I expected a very good display and was not disappointed. Until the girls decided that they were done and we had to leave before the show was over. (sigh)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

O2 Delivery Aftermath

Alyssa actually let me sleep until 6:45 this morning. How nice of her. There was an issue with the TV, so she was unable to get Georgie on by herself. Plus she needed some food. I gave her a tortilla and tried to go back to sleep.

I gave up on sleeping at 8:00 (I might have gotten a few winks in) and set about finishing up with the lawn mower - in the front, anyhow.

The girls let me work through the morning on promise of taking them to the library for the Family Afternoon Movie. The list said they were showing "Herbie" which technically is an experimental 1966 George Lucas film. Since all of the other movies on the list are Disney shows, I assumed (correctly) that it was The Love Bug.

We have this show on DVD. Anna watches it a lot. A LOT! Alyssa made it 30 minutes. Next week is a Bug's Life, which Alyssa hasn't seen. Maybe it will work out better.

I did as much work as I could, but the library doesn't have wireless internet. I thought about swiping the network cable from one of the library's computers, but didn't. Instead, I had the girls pick out some videos and we left.

Kara did her O2 tonight, and that seems to have worked out. I went to the store and bought a bunch of veggies for Kara. Her IV is done, so we can go to bed now. This is good.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The O2 Delivery

It's twenty minutes before tomorrow, and I'm still up. I'm up because Kara's doctor has given her a prescription for oxygen therapy. She's started, and it's helping quite a bit. Even more than the sauna, which she isn't using at the moment. She just points the windshield of the truck at the sun and sits inside with the windows up for half an hour or so. Except when it's raining. The solar truck sauna doesn't work when it's raining.

I'm up because Kara's oxygen is coming. They said they would deliver it today. First it was this afternoon. Then this evening. Then the driver was running late, and it would be between 11:00 and 12:00. PM. After dark. At night.

So I'm up. Barely. My eyes are tired, and I want to take my contacts out so my eyes will stop burning. I can't, though. I didn't put them in today.

So now it's only twelve minutes until tomorrow. I can take some consolation in knowing that there is no school tomorrow, so I can sleep in as late as Alyssa wants. She took two naps today, so I'm afraid it won't be nearly as late as what I want.

At least she knows how to turn on Curious George by herself now. At 6:30. When she gets up. Tomorrow. Which starts in eight minutes.


Update: It's 12:36, and there is no sign of any delivery. I don't have a number to call. I am finished with my vigil. I'm glad there's half a case of carbonated, caffeinated contraband in the trunk. I'm going to need it when the sun comes up. I'm going to bed.

Update 2: It is now 1:05, and there is extra oxygen in my house. All it took was going to bed.