Monday, January 31, 2011

Trying to Keep Up

Now that the kids are no longer in the diapers or toddler stage, I somehow thought I would have more time to do other things, like blogging. I don't know where the time is going these days. It feels like I am losing my grip. At the same time, I am more productive at work than I have been in years. I have almost sworn off TV (except for that inane soap opera I have been watching almost since birth). Even so, I can hardly find time for my hobbies of photography, spinning, and knitting.

January has been a wonderful month. Pete turned 50 on the 2nd and we had an amazing party at a restored hotel in downtown Bakersfield. The place was beautiful and the turnout was nice even though snowy weather kept the passes closed and kept our friends from Southern California away. Chloe turned 7 on the 19th. She seems so grown up (sometimes). For nearly a year she has been asking for us to take her to the snow for her birthday. So on the weekend before the 19th, that's just what we did. We escaped the dreary winter fog of the Central Valley to play in the sun-filled snow at a nearby ski resort. We didn't try skiing or snowboarding, but we did ride the inner tubes and threw snowballs and built a phenomenal snow man (thanks mostly to Effy, our exchange student). It was a picture-perfect day and the weather was far nicer than at home.

We gave Chloe these flowers for her 7th birthday

This past weekend, we managed to escape the fog and gloom again as we spent a warm and luxuriously sunny time in Los Angeles. Saturday was spent at Farmer's Market and the Grove, where Effy had a mandatory exchange student orientation meeting. She was in her meeting all day while we ventured into the shops and watched time slip away. Clearly the highlight for Chloe and Pearl was a trip to the American Girl Doll store. Chloe and Pearl are just now old enough for these dolls and they each received one for Christmas. The dolls were ordered to match the features of our girls, so Chloe's doll has dark brown hair, while Pearl's doll has black hair with bangs. Chloe's doll even has purple glasses to match her own. If only we had known about the store, the girls could have brought their dolls with them.

Once inside the American Girl Doll Store, you see little girls of all colors and sizes carrying their dolls around. Many of them are wearing matching outfits. On the ground level, there is a salon for dolls. You bring in your doll with the frayed and rumpled hair and it is returned to you with a beautiful coif or braid. After your doll is all "dolled up", you may sit for tea or lunch in the cafe, where they have special seating for your doll. It is quite the affair.

Upstairs are more dolls, clothing, books, movies and accessories. They NEVER have sales. I think this store is pretty much like Costco. Don't expect to get out the door for under $200. We purchased a matching outfit for Pearl and her doll and then we bought Chloe some pajamas that match her doll's pajamas. She also got a fancy dress for her doll. They even have a portrait studio where you can have your picture taken with your doll. I think I can handle that part on my own.

If that wasn't excitement enough, we met up with some friends the next day at Knott's Berry Farm. My friend's son Damian was celebrating his 8th birthday, so we were having a double birthday celebration for him and for Chloe. Our luck with crowds at amusement parks has been dismal this past year, so I was fantastically surprised to find that we had most of the park to ourselves. There were no lines for rides until later in the afternoon so we dashed from ride to ride all morning long. Chloe loved the roller coasters, but it was hard to find ones where she was tall enough to ride. However, there were a few and they were doozies. Pearl doesn't like the feeling of falling or moving fast, so her taste in rides was a bit different. Fortunately, this place has lots of activities and entertainment for kids of all sizes. By the time we left, there was still so much left unexplored. I have a feeling we might be coming back next January and if we are lucky, Chloe will be 2" taller. We created memories that will be fondly revisited for years to come.

The following weekend, I went to San Diego to attend a Blue Lily workshop. I learned more about photography and how to expand it beyond the hobby stage. I have a goal to learn as much as I can in the next few years and then sometime after that, go professional. I think this is something that I may even want to do as a second career after retirement.