Monday, July 31, 2006

Peanut on Safari

It was a sweltering day as we finally turned off the main roads onto a small back road that would lead to the wide, open savannah.

Peanut had traveled happily, and we were all excited as we gathered our tour maps and animal-spotting guides. One last turn brought us to the beginning of our wilderness safari!

We soon spotted the unmistakably long, twisted horns of a herd of antelope-like animals making its way through the tall grasses. So majestic! A wilder young one was racing in circles around the group. Peanut turned to me with her eyes wide open as if to ask "mama! what are they?!".

Our vehicle bumped along the way a bit further before we were approached by more animals. These deer soon had blocked off the path. They circled us and inquisitivity looked in our windows. A bit too much too fast for Peanut. She cried "up, up!" and was soon safe in mama's lap.

We moved along carefully so as not to miss any of the wonderful sights. Halfway into our trip, we began a steep ascent to the hill top from where we could survey the area. From there, it got even more exciting.

In the foothills, we encoutered a corps of giraffes among the tall trees. Just amazing! We didn't need to just peek at them through the sun-roof as one soon lowered his towering neck to greet us through the driver's window.

Nearby, a herd of zebras gathered. As we passed, they lazily moved past our vehicle also pausing to by our windows. We were literally within inches of each other. Peanut happily hissed "zee, zee, zee" as they came by.

In the heat of the day, the cheetahs were taking it easy. Just like Miuku & Mauku do at home. We saw one lolling on its back and another fast asleep against a tree trunk.

We ended our safari by visiting the Lodge and Foothills Tents - once we were able to find them that is. Sheltered away from busy - or any - roadways, the overnight accomodations looked cozy and secluded. They both overlook a popular watering hole visited by many of the parks animals.

What a fantastic day trip! The Fossil Rim wildlife reserve was just 2 hours away from home, yet we felt as if we escaped to a completely different world.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Not so a'muzed

Peanut and I took a peek at Kidz Muze during its grand opening weekend to see if it offered another indoor play place. I just didn't get the concept from reading their website other than to understand it was indoors, for children and had some different sections. Oh, and it cost money for children and parents to go. Hmmm...

The enthusiastic high schoolers (ok, they could have been college students - they all look sooo young to me nowadays. Sad.) at the front desk said of course there was tons for a little 15 month old and took us on tour. Tons was more like milligrams.

Kidz Muze occupies a warehouse type space that's been kind of spliced into a number of play zones or rooms. There was a zone with a couple of doll houses and train sets on tables, a zone for kids karaoke with play instruments, bean bags and supposedly dress up (I saw one lonely dress), a zone for a jungle adventure with a small climbing wall ("you can help your little one climb this!"), a room for crafts and then several make believe play areas I liked. You could be a vet with all the stuffed animals, play in one of two kitchens, or run the grocery store. For wilder times, there was a bigger climbing contraption and a huge indoor play gym/jungle gym. Though all areas were marked for 4 and older.

For truly smaller ones, there was one area with a few puzzles, climbing cushions, a baby gym and Little People-like farm house. Not very impressive. The odd part was that it was a no-shoes zone, but the management office for Kidz Muze was at the rear of the space so employees were constantly having to take off their shoes to cross through there....

The cost will also probably keep us away:


4 to 12 years old


1 to 3 years old

Free admission

Under 1 year old


13 years old to adult

Note the TO ADULT price.

I asked why adults had to pay as well - it seems a bit silly. Even sillier was the answer I got.
"Its because the adults can also play with all the equipment!"


We've been roasting over the past weeks here in Texas with temps finally dropping "down" into the mid-90s F. Let me tell you, it feels great! So refreshing! Cool, even!

In the midst of the peak temperatures of around 105 F, our air conditioning went out. On a Saturday evening. It just seemed to be getting warmer and warmer around the house. Then, I dared to suggest that the A/C died....a thought no one wants to really entertain when no relief was in sight.

Sure enough the outside unit was silent as a sun-crisped cricket shell.

The home warranty service promised to call us on MONDAY morning to set a time for a repair man to come out. Not for a repair to come out on Monday, but to set a "mutually convinient" time for a repair to come out.

I suggested this required emergency repairs since it was so hot, we have a toddler, under a heat advisory, etc...According to the warranty co, an emergency repair can be ordered ONLY when its 105F - at the very moment you call! Nevermind if its been that hot that day or will be the next day. Nevermind if your very own reliable Biltema digital thermometer shows that its 104, if doesn't show 105F, tough luck. Get ready to roast.

We opted to install window A/C units in our bedroom and living room rather than evacuating to a hotel since with Peanut + 2 kitties, it would be no fun for anyone.

We draped the thickest curtains we could find in doorways, closed off no-critical rooms, dropped all the shades and sacrificied our Finnish darkening curtains to make covers for west facing windows. Anything that gave off heat was a no-no... no toaster, no oven, no stove, no coffee maker. Thank goodness for microwave meals. And, friends who offered fans, guest bedrooms and numbers to their favorite repair men.

It brought it down to a toasty 88F for the afternoons in the main living area. Our bedroom was an oasis of 76F.

Finally, five days later the A/C unit was whirring again pushing blissfully chilled air throughout the home.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What stories do you remember?

My mom recently sent me a copy of a story I had told her when I was a child. She was really great in writing down our creations and saving them over the years. Somehow she knew we would one day appreciate her dragging these boxes around as she moved.

The tale was about two 'nakeros' (don't ask, I have no idea what they are) and how they finally met each other, got to play, eat cake and then eventually get married.

There is one storybook that was given to my mom by her parents that I now have on my bookshelf. Its called 'Satumaan Portinvartija', the Gatekeeper of Storyland, by Jorma Maenpaa (umlauts on the 'a's).

This is my all time favorite fairy tale book. As a child, I would only get to hear stories from it when we spent the summer at my mom's home in Ilomantsi, Finland. The book always stayed there on the shelf. In the evenings, my sister and I would snuggle into our mom as we all lay on her bed and she would read these fantastic fairy tales to us.

To this day, I can clearly imagine the story of the Hullumylly (The Crazy Mill) - there were no illustrations in the book so all the images are my own. The Crazy Mill would grind the hearts of people and fill their sacks with whatever secrets their hearts carried.

I've started on my own translation of the book so I can share the stories with Peanut. While I hope she learns Finnish, I know its an uphill battle and I don't want her to miss out on the magic of this book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Its almost Divine Consign time again

Soon, August will upon us and it'll be consignment sale season again! Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Divine Consign is already looking for volunteers for their events in Grapevine and Plano. Being a volunteer gets you into the must-attend-to-get-the-real-deals pre-sales.

At the pre-sale I attended for a spring sale, it was just madness. Imagine the good old Supermarket Sweep programs where a couple has like 3 minutes to run through the store to fill their shopping cart and everything in the cart is then free.

It was just like that minus the shopping carts - moms racing through with laundry baskets or strollers in tow. Grabbing toys, shoving clothes into the carts, wild-eyed and oblivious to each other. Not much was left dangling on the racks after that crowd came through there...

Where there's a will, there's a way

(I think I'm beginning to be influenced too much by the headlines of the Dallas Morning News which ALWAYS, ALWAYS have to have some play on words no matter how serious the topic...)

Peanut's already one and we've been meaning to get around to it for just as many months - our wills.

Now, its just going to get done. Period. We're going to sit down and hash through all the details of what happens to sweet Peanut when we both die. Who will take care of her? What will happen to our "assets" (few and far between as they are)? Who will take care of our kitties? Not easy as it means reviewing the abilities and those lacking in our family members and friends to chose the right one.

If you can't/don't want to use a lawyer - there are many online services to help you out:
Legal Zoom
US Legal Forms

The same thought seems to be floating around in many minds in the blogosphere - like at Mia's blog where she writes about her plans much more eloquently and fluently than I do here (but, if I can just link to it, that makes it OK).

And just in case you weren't yet convinced you need one - check out the BabyCenter list of why you AND your spouse do.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Moses Law to help save abandoned babies

The fact that something like the Moses Law exists in Texas and 45 other states is a sad thought:
The statute – the first of its kind in the nation – lets mothers leave healthy babies up to 60 days old at a hospital, fire station or other medical emergency facility, with no questions asked and no fear of prosecution.
Though I often support laws that seem to condone undesirable behavior, like abandoning babies, if they are created to deal with the reality of the situation and try to alleviate the consequences of the behavior.

Ideal would be to find ways to prevent the behavior in the first place, but the truth is that sometimes pregnancies are unwanted and sometimes the parents don't feel as if they have any options because of social or financial constraints. Or, they are just unprepared to deal with the responsibilities of their actions.

Over the weekend, the Dallas Morning News reported on two cases of newborns being abandoned: one in a public bathroom and the another on the hood of a car. Both just horrifying thoughts! Unfortunately, the Moses Law in Texas has had only minimal success. It seems those most likely to abandon a baby are unaware of it.

Benadryl debunked as sleep aid for kids

From Babycenter:
The report was published Monday in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"Benadryl is widely used, parents use it, physicians recommend it to help kids sleep," said study lead author Dr. Dan Merenstein, a pediatrics specialist at Georgetown University Medical Center.

"But the bottom line is, it doesn't work," he added.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Honey, let me take care of dinner tonight!

Because I'm a sucker for coupons, I dropped by Super Suppers today with my 4th of July parade coupon for a free side dish. Honestly, I was just curious as to what they could do and if anyone can help me with getting dinner on the table, they're worth a second look.

The idea is that Super Suppers plans a number of menus each month, has the ingredients already chopped up and all you have to do is 1) bag & mix the ingredients or 2) have them bag & mix for you or 3) take a frozen meal to go. They also offer sides and desserts. While I only tried one, there would be a big benefit to coming in and prepping many more meals so you could be set for the week or two or even month!

Walking in, you see a number of mini-salad bar like stations where you can prepare the entrees. I decided to put together a quick & simple one since Peanut was with me. It involved frozen chicken breasts, pineapple juice, shredded ginger, teriyaki sauce, honey, uncooked pasta and chicken stock. In a couple of minutes I was ready to check out.

At home, it took about 40 mins to get the tasty meal (really, it was good) on the table mainly because of the time needed to defrost the chicken before cooking. I'm not sure that it was so much easier though I did save on chopping time. What I really saved on was the sometimes agonizing thinking of what on earth can I do with chicken tonight? And, when will I have a chance to go to the store?

The tab:

  • Super Suppers says: With an average entrĂ©e price of around $3.00 per serving, you can save hundreds of dollars and 20-30 hours of your precious time every month!
  • I paid $20 for a 4 - 6 serving entree (that is 6 chicken breasts & pasta to match). We probably pay around $7 for 3 chicken breasts and $2 for pasta. Then add in the pineapple juice and teriyaki sauce we don't have on hand. Then you're probably pretty close to even if we had bought the ingredients ourselves.
  • Fill your Freezer Days -- at the end of each month as they prepare to change menus, Super Suppers discounts current menu entrees. Come by and stock up!
Bonus for new moms - they will assemble food for free for the first month after your baby is born!

Fourth of July

I know, i'm a bit slow this week....the fourth of July was already several days ago.

Peanut's papa was out of commission with an unfortunately timed migrane, so I took Peanut to the City of Coppell 4th of July parade alone. We met up with one of Peanut's playmates so it was still a lively affair.

The parade is scheduled for a 10 am start, but still around 10.40 that morning under an increasingly hot sun, we were wondering where they were! Luckily, we had snagged a spot under a tree for some shade. Some who planned ahead came with lawn chairs, portable sun umbrellas and coolers. Dogs were dressed in bandanas; children had empty plastic bags along to catch all the candy. Next year, we'll come later and come prepared.

Peanut loved the all the dogs, excitedly 'oof, oof'ing when she saw one she liked. The marching band, police sirens and fire trucks were all a bit too loud for her. She'd quickly snatch up her stuffed animal, squeezing tightly around his neck, and ask for 'up' into mama's arms. Thanks to the local Exchange Club, Peanut got a mini-US flag to wave around.

What I liked best about the parade was the way there was always a spectator calling out to a buddy on a float or driving a car with a Ms. Jr. West Texas pagent winner or handing out flyers who would return the greeting. It wasn't so much a parade staged for us to watch, but really for everyone to have fun and participate in.

The kids weren't the only ones picking up goodies: the Mom's Club of Coppell (there is a North and South chapter!) gave us a bag of animal crackers, the YMCA was giving away free 2 week passes, Super Suppers had a coupon for a free side dish, and one group handed out those juicy ice sticks...ahhhh!

Mixed in with the usual karate clubs, neighborhood floats, beauty pagent winners, politicians and real estate agents were cheerleaders and a surprisingly many religious themed participants.