Friday, August 17, 2018

July

School starts in 12 days and for the first time since returning to work 4+ years ago I'm not quite ready for summer to end.  Almost, but not quite.  I've hated summers in recent years due to the stress of childcare and feeling sad and guilty about not being able to do fun things with the girls, plus enduring all of the 80-something to over 90-degree days without A/C (we at least have them in our bedrooms now).  But with my shorter commute and more PTO they are getting better.  Next summer should be the best yet because I will work from home 2 days a week, Paul will take most Mondays off and the other 2-3 days a week we will just let the girls stay home alone and I will come home on my lunch break to check on them, plus there are plenty of neighborhood moms (that either are stay-at-home or work for the school district) that can keep an eye out.  Also I will finally have enough PTO built up that I can maybe take a whole week off and not go anywhere but just hang around home and go to the lake and what-not (in addition to other time off for our regular summer vacation/Crescent Bar, etc).

Anyway, I usually recap our summers week-by-week, but just never got around to it this year.  Instead I'm going to break it into July and August.  So here was our July:

We spent the 4th of July holiday hanging around home most of the day but in the late afternoon we went to our neighbor’s for a barbeque.  There were fireworks for the kids (all of whom are now old enough to shoot them off themselves with adult supervision) and then at 10:00 our community has a big fireworks show every year at a park, so we went to that.  The next day we went to Crescent Bar and stayed through the weekend.



July 5th was Kona's 1st birthday!



She got some birthday treats which she didn't even like :(


A few weeks later the girls and I went camping with a few friends.  Just moms and kids, no husbands, so Paul had a weekend to himself.  We went to a campground only 25 minutes away with a nice pool.  It was a fun little getaway but I don’t think I took a single picture.

A few days after that our sitter went on vacation so Paul took those days off and took the girls and one of their friends to Crescent Bar.  I still had to work, but I enjoyed having the house and time to myself in the evenings.  They got back on Saturday the 28th and then on Sunday the 29th we left to go camping.  We went to Lake Cushman and it was so beautiful with the Olympic mountains all around.  We swam and floated in the lake a lot and they had a cool rope swing the girls enjoyed.




Other than losing Kona for about 20 minutes it was a great time!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Texas

Our family vacation this year was to the great state of Texas.  A good friend of mine, Jerri, moved to Austin 6 years ago and I've been wanting to go visit ever since but we can only go so many places per year (like, one, plus Crescent Bar and maybe camping) and it's usually somewhere like Mexico or Hawaii or last year's awesome Caribbean cruise.  So with all that out of our system we finally went to Texas this year.

We are Worldmark owners, so the first thing we did over a year and a half ago (because at that time we already knew we were going to do the cruise in 2017) was look to see if they had any resorts near Austin or San Antonio.  Turns out they have one in Austin and New Braunfels and maybe some others in the vicinity, I can't remember, but we ended up staying in New Braunfels which is roughly half way between Austin and SA (a teeny bit closer to SA).

We flew in on a Saturday, picked up our rental car and drove to our condo, stopping at In N Out burger for dinner.  I had never been and had been dying to try it for years so I was really looking forward to it.  The burger did not disappoint, but the fries were awful.  Anyway, we got settled into our condo, which had a really cool upstairs loft area, and then went swimming.

On Sunday we had planned to go to San Antonio to the Alamo and Riverwalk, figuring that would be the best day to drive down there to avoid traffic, but Jerri really wanted to go to the water park in New Braunfels (Schlitterbahn), so we did that instead and she drove down from Austin and went with us.  After spending the day there we went to Black's BBQ which had just opened a new location close to our condo.



On Monday we went to San Antonio.  We went to the Alamo first, and then to the Riverwalk for lunch and a boat ride.  The Riverwalk is SO cool!  I totally felt like I was in Europe, not that I've ever been but whatever.  We had awesome Tex mex for lunch and then went to Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium.






 







On Tuesday we went to SeaWorld.  Paul asked about a military discount, and we ended up getting in FREE!  The whole family!  I was expecting like a $5 or $10 discount for just him!  We saw 3 shows (Beluga whales/some sort of dolphin (not bottlenose), Killer whales, and my favorite, sea lions) and rode all the big roller coasters.  The girls were even brave enough to ride the big twisty, upside-down one!  I was so impressed!

We rode that and others


One of the girls' friend's family also moved to Austin last year, so on Wednesday we drove up to their brand new house and hung out with them at their community pool.  Then we went to a different BBQ place, Salt Lick, which I liked a little better than Black's.  The girls then had a sleepover with their friend while Paul and I drove about 40 minutes north to Jerri's house.  We had hoped to have a grown up night on the town but it was getting late and Jerri had to work the next day so we just hung out at her house and spent the night there, since we were maybe going to go to Waco the next day and we would be closer.

On Thursday morning after Jerri left for work Paul and I went out for a quite breakfast date, then it was back down to our other friends' place to pick up the girls.  The original plan was to then head to Waco to see the Magnolia Market at the Silos and all the fixer-upper stuff and Jerri was going to get off work early and come with us, but it was just a bit too far, especially since we'd be getting a late start, so instead she took us all around Austin, culminating with dinner at the Oasis, a super cool restaurant on a cliff overlooking Lake Travis, which is part of the Colorado river.  There are some other restaurants and shops there, too, and I would have loved to explore more but the girls were super tired that day, having not gotten much sleep at the sleepover.

Smoker at Salt Lick BBQ

Some overlook on the Colorado River

Nice!

Downtown Austin




Another bucket list item checked off!

Capitol building

That tower at the University of Texas

Dinner at the Oasis






We spent Thursday night at Jerri's again, then on Friday we took off for Kerrville, about 2 1/2 hours away.  There is a town on the way called Fredricksburg that is a cute little German town with really cute shops and restaurants and what-not, and we stopped super quick just to grab a gift for my aunt and uncle (salsa and jam).  I would have loved to spend an hour or two exploring that town but we didn't have time.  We finally made it to my uncle's place around 2:15.  I hadn't seen them since 1997 at my grandma's funeral, I think, so it was SO nice to see them!  We had a late lunch and just visited for a bit but we had another long drive ahead and the girls were getting restless so after being there a few hours we left to go back to New Braunfels, about 1 1/2 hours away.  We got pizza for dinner and called it a night.

Saturday we checked out and drove to the airport where Jerri picked us up (our rental car was due back several hours before we needed to be at the airport so thankfully she was available to hang out with us some more).  She took us to Barton Springs Pool, a really cool spring-fed swimming hole.  It was one of the main things we wanted to do there so I'm glad we got to fit that in.  After that, we had lunch at an Italian place downtown then she dropped us off at the airport.  It was a whirlwind trip but super fun!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Last Day of 4th Grade

Today was the last day of school!  REALLY early for us--we normally don't get out until like between the 17th and 20th, give or take.  But we had a really short Christmas break and no snow days this year, so I guess that's why.

I took the day off and Kona and I walked the girls most of the way to school.  When it was time to turn around, Kona did NOT want to go the opposite direction as them and kept pulling really hard trying to follow them, then at one point I dropped the leash and she was running loose but mostly just backing up because she was dragging the leash handle and it was scaring her...it was so embarrassing because there was a lot of school traffic and people around witnessing the whole thing, ugh.



But once we finally made it home I had a nice quiet morning to myself to get some things done around the house.  But it was only for about 3 hours (which of course went lightning quick) because school got out at 11:55.  Kona and I walked to meet the girls, and then I took them to MOD pizza for lunch with their friend Sydney.  While we were there three of the four 4th grade teachers, which included both of theirs, showed up, so that was kind of funny/cool.  After lunch we went across the parking lot to Bartell's to pick up some stuff and get ice cream (our Bartell Drugs sells hard ice cream and growlers of beer!).  Then we went to the library because I needed to return a book and I figured why not have them get started on their summer reading, and they were game.  After getting books I dropped them off at Sydney's house where they were going to proceed to build a fort and then "read".  Yeah, right.

Anyway, while they were there I got to work planting more containers.



Now, I'm dreading going back to work tomorrow.  Whenever I have a random day off like today or when they are sick or something, it's always so nice to have that time to get caught up on stuff but it always makes me long for more.  Sigh.  Never enough time.

Oh, and when I picked up the girls from Sydney's I asked them if they really did read and, surprise, no they did not.  But they played outside so yay for that.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dance Recital and a Hike

Olivia had her dance recital the weekend before Memorial Day.  She took Hip Hop plus Dance Troupe, the latter of which performs in a big production, in this case The Little Mermaid.  Both sets of grandparents came to watch and then we had a belated Mother's Day barbeque after.




 

Olivia is on the right by the shell


The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend we went on a hike.  It was a hike I'd been wanting to do since the late '90s and just never have.  It goes to Lake Talapus first and then continues on to Lake Ollalie, but the latter part was too snowy and Olivia didn't want to go in the first place, let alone keep going even further so we just went to Talapus and back.





The next weekend Paul and the girls went with their friend Abby and her dad and another friend to Great Wolf Lodge for an early birthday celebration for Abby.  That meant I got most of a weekend all to myself!  Between laundry and walking the dog I of course didn't manage to do nearly as much as I'd hoped, but I did get a few scrapbook pages done and worked on choosing a paint color for the living room.

The girls have just two more days of school.  Tuesday is their last day and they get out at 11:55.  I took the day off, so I will have just under 3 hours to myself in the morning to do whatever, then the 3 of us will do something after school, not sure what yet.  One of their friends usually has a last-day-of-school party but I haven't heard anything about it yet so we'll see.  Our summer nanny will be here on Wednesday, but then she wasn't available for Thursday and Friday (she will start full-time on Monday the 18th) so Paul took Thursday off and I will work from home on Friday.  I can't believe that in less than 3 months they will start their LAST year of elementary school!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Frustration with Ebay Buyers

Years ago, I used Ebay to help build my model horse collection.  I was always a buyer, never sold anything.  If you've never used Ebay, there is a system of leaving feedback to rate the buyers/sellers you work with.  So as a buyer, you bid, and if you win, you promptly pay for the item at which time the seller promptly ships the item.  Then, if you are happy with the service and the item you leave positive feedback.  And, in most cases, the seller will have already left positive feedback for you because you're awesome and were quick to pay and were polite and friendly with any written communication.  Most of the time (at least back in the day, i.e. 15-20 years ago), the seller would let you know that a) your item is on the way, and b) positive feedback has been left for you.  More often than not they would actually request that you also leave positive feedback for them which I always found tacky and annoying but I did anyway, and would have regardless if they requested it or not.

Now, 15-20 years later, I am selling off said model horse collection (don't have a spare room to display them, wouldn't want to necessarily anyway, and tired of storing them).  So now I am a seller and not a buyer, which means that I am obligated to leave positive feedback first if I hope to receive it in return (because once I ship, my part is done, whereas the buyer has to wait to receive the item to know if positive feedback is warranted).

So, in the last few years I have probably sold maybe 8-10 horses on Ebay, have always shipped promptly after receiving payment, have always left a friendly, polite message letting the buyer know the item has shipped, what the tracking # was and thank you for their business, and have always left positive feedback for my buyers (assuming it was deserved, there were a few I didn't leave any feedback for--leaving negative feedback is a last resort if things were REALLY bad), and NOT ONCE have any of the buyers bothered to leave positive feedback for me in return (maybe once, can't remember for sure) .  It's so frustrating and really kind of rude.  I would have never done that as a buyer!

Then last Saturday the 21st I sold another horse.  By Tuesday I still hadn't received payment.  I sent a polite message saying that I'm ready to ship as soon as I receive payment, let me know, blah, blah, blah.  I got a message back saying thanks for my patience, they will pay on Friday the 27th, hope that's ok.  I responded with sure, that's fine, thanks for letting me know.  Then yesterday, Friday the 27th, I get another message saying, sorry for the inconvenience but they will pay me on Monday.  Eye roll.  We'll see what they say when Monday rolls around, but if they don't pay I'm going to go ahead and report it and possibly leave negative feedback.  And by the way, they have 100% positive feedback and a bunch of comments about their fast payment, etc.  So apparently, out of almost 200 transactions, I am the only one they have decided to pull this on?  Whatever.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring Break

The girls are on Spring Break this week.  Normally, we would need a sitter for at least 3 of the days but now that I am able to work from home up to two days per week (I rarely do because I'm so close) I am taking advantage of that opportunity and working from home Tuesday and Friday (my designated days) and took today (Monday) off.  Paul is taking Thursday off and Wednesday is the only day we need a sitter.  Love it.

So today we went to Seattle and had a great time.  We started out at the Seattle Public Library which is known for it's amazing architecture, then we went to the Sky View Observation deck on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Tower, another thing I have never done in all my years in this area.  The views were amazing.

Great Wheel lower left and Space Needle upper right

On the Harbor Steps


Century Link Field (Seahawks) in foreground and Safeco Field (Mariners) behind

Looking down into the library from the Sky View Observatory


Riding the bright yellow escalator in the library

We had wanted to go to Dick's for lunch (a Seattle Icon known for cheap, no-frills but delicious burgers--they've never been) but we would have had to drive and I had already parked the car and didn't want to pay for that, leave, come back and pay again (we still had stuff we wanted to do in the area), so instead we just walked down to the waterfront and ate there at the Crab Pot.  Then we went to a few shops, they each got a new sweatshirt, we got ice cream then came home.