Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Muddy Deluge

Last night I looked out the front door after dinner and was greeted with this sight:

If you look closely at the top of the picture, the entire cul-de-sac is covered with muddy GA red clay water. Yuck.

The people at the head of the cul-de-sac are redoing their front yard. They've got all the proper retention fences and bales of hay, but there was just WAY too much water coming down - and through their yard - to contain all the dirt. It rained somewhere between 1-1.5 inches in about an hour - with most of that rain coming in about 30 minutes. Yikes.

This was the view at the end of the driveway:

We had our own little eddy current at the curb.

The volume of water and the mud were rather "awesome" to see, but not really a problem for us. For some of the neighbors, however, it was. Our next door neighbor's driveway slopes down to his house and he had several inches of muddy, mucky water sitting on the end of his driveway and into his backyard. He and the owners of the mud shoveled and hosed the driveway this morning.

Further down the street is where the real problem lay. The storm drain isn't draining properly. This is how it looked after the rain stopped:

One of the other neigbors had pictures showing it was up to mid-calf. We're not sure what is stopping the drain from draining. Several thoughts are:

1 - people are blowing too much yard waste into the drains and that is stopping them up

2 - there's a bunch of yard waste at the outlet to the storm drain (between some backyards farther down the street)

3- the pipe has collapsed somewhere down the line from there

Various people were calling anyone that they could think of to deal with the problem last night and today. A sheriff's deputy came out to see the problem last night and I think I saw a city truck today. I hope they figure out the problem and get it solved. It made a huge mess - not just the water in the street, but it backed up into 2 different yards - in one it was onto the front porch and on the other it was about a foot away from getting into their basement.

I'm SOOO glad it wasn't backing up into our house. I did discover that one of our drain lines from the gutter isn't flowing properly, though. I was out there in the downpour positioning a gutter splash thing to divert the water (spurting out from the gutter/drain connection) back away from the house.


Monday, July 30, 2007

First Day of 3rd Grade

"OK, take the picture already"


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Open House for Back to School

Over the last few days I've been to open house at both kids schools. It's a little odd to go to 2 different open houses now. But that's the way it will be until M is a senior in HS. Oh my!

It's a little nicer not to have to fill out all that paperwork for both kids all at once, but instead I still have to fill it all out and I have to drive 2 different places to do it.

For A, I know the drill - this is the 7th year we've been at that school. I know how things work, I know where to go. I even know A's teacher (she was M's teacher in 3rd grade also).

For M, however, I am a complete newcomer. I don't know anyone there. I don't know my way around. I don't know the drills and procedures they use. And the school is new too (well, this will be its 2nd year), so most people are new to the school. It was obvious that many of us 6th grade parents are much more used to hand-holding from the teachers. We're used to weekly newsletters from the school. And basically one teacher to deal with. Not anymore. M will change classes all day long - and change fellow students too. He's on a team of about 100 kids, so he'll mostly see those same kids in various mixes all day, but they won't move in lock-step throughout the day. M will have to navigate over to the 8th grade hall for his Language Arts class - that's where the gifted Language Arts teacher is. They assured me that someone (the teacher?) will help the kids find their way there and back for the first few days. That's good. I've also heard through the grapevine, though, that the classes are led to and from their "connections" (electives) classes all year long - that seems like overkill!

It's off to school tomorrow. They've picked out outfits (not nearly as big a deal for my boys as it seems to be for some of the girls - or as I remember it being) and we've got backpacks packed. Not the new backpacks, though, they're still on their way from Land's End. I wanted to get backpacks that would last and I've not had much luck with the rolling ones at local stores, so I'd already decided I'd order that one. I was going to pick up a regular backpack for M (no rolling ones allowed, they don't fit in the lockers), but the nice ones were really expensive - Land's End was cheaper! So, LE it is. I hope their bags hold up to their reputation - but if they don't, I'll ship them back.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Too many shirts

I was working on cleaning out M's closet today - I found a big stack of short sleeve shirts of A's that I had taken out of his drawer last fall. And I found a box of clothes for A to grow into. Between those 2 boxes I counted 34 shirts A might want to wear (and are likely to fit). And 9 that are going straight to Goodwill.

Oh, and then there's the box of clothes I boxed up at the end of last summer that was mostly shorts, but also had 3 shirts that still fit A (and 4 that are now too small).

I checked A's drawer - he had 35 short sleeve shirts in his drawer - and it is almost full.

How did this kid end up with over 70 shirts??? It's no wonder I don't need to go back-to-school clothes shopping for him!

But, of course, I did buy him a new spirit wear shirt at open house yesterday - it will be delivered sometime in the first couple weeks of school.

I guess I'll have to get A to help me weed out which shirts to keep and which to pass on...

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

A gets his own room

Or maybe I should say M gets his own room back. As it was M who was really pushing for them not to share a bedroom anymore. A is quite happy in his own room though too. This was initially A's room when we moved here, when he was 7 months old - and stayed his room until he got out of the crib at 3 and some months (he liked the crib - both kids did - they would climb back into the crib to sleep). Once A was out of the crib and was going to need a bed, not just a mattress on the floor, we decided to get M bunk beds. A was entranced with bunk beds and wanted to sleep in the bottom and M thought it was a fine idea at the time too.

So, we set up bunk beds in M's room and moved A in. That we had one KID bedroom and A's old room became a playroom. This worked out wonderfully for me, as we moved most of the toys into the playroom. I didn't have to walk across the playroom to get to anything and this cut WAY down on the number of Legos I stepped on! It became *less* hazardous to walk across the kids bedroom to tuck them in, though I still sometimes step on books or clothes.

About a year ago M started wanting his own room back, but A didn't want to move. And both kids were still playing (and making messes) reasonably often in the playroom. We talked about splitting them up, but no one was willing to take the time and effort to clean up enough to make the move. I told M several times that if he wanted his own room, he had to help the process.

Well, with M starting middle school (next week!), the time for the change was here. M's schedule will be different from A's now. M's bus will come over an hour later in the morning (and thus M can sleep in some). So it makes a lot of sense to have them in different rooms.

A has recently gotten really into Harry Potter. He wants the HP sheets on his bed. He found a "book" of HP posters that he wanted to put on the wall (memo to self - buy more sticky stuff for posters). M had a set of HP wall decals, that he graciously let A have for his room. A and I spent some time this afternoon redecorating his room. It still has a ways to go - too many boxes of stuff - some he still plays with and some he doesn't - all around the room. I think part of the problem is the room now has all of A's stuff plus many of M's toys too. And some stuff that they don't play with until they "discover" it while we're sorting to give things away. It is an ongoing process. I'll have to take some pictures tomorrow of our "decorating".

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our Day at Six Flags

The kids got free tickets to Six Flags from school (recorded 6 hours of reading in 6 weeks - not a tough act for my readers), so they were aching to go to Six Flags all summer. And D had a free ticket from taking his class to Physics day at the park in the Spring. M wanted to go as soon as school let out - end of May, but the tickets weren't good until mid-June. And by then we were in the middle of swim team season - 2 meets per week. We couldn't go on meet nights and I was too frazzled to want to go the morning after a meet - and besides, there's the whole summer to think about going.... And then we were getting ready for vacation. We planned to go one day, but then I remembered that A had a dr's appt that day - and one that was a necessity for him to go to camp. So then we went on vacation and D and I agreed that it would NOT be a good idea to go to Six Flags the day after flying home. So then A was a camp - can't go without him - as soon as A came back from camp, D has to go back to pre-planning. OK, so maybe we'll go on a Sunday, I've heard its not too crowded then. Big oops - it seems D's ticket was only good Mon-Fri. Well, then, looked like I would take them by myself.

We've always done Six Flags as a family trip. We all enjoy it and having 2 adults makes it easier to each pair up with a kid on rides - and to separate fractious younguns. I was a wee bit nervous about bickering kids at the park. So, I read them the riot act on the way to the park. Things like -
if you fight or don't listen, we will leave the line for a ride.
Or if one of you is misbehaving because they don't want to ride X ride, you will wait in line with us, but not ride.
If things get out of hand, we will leave the park.
If only one is misbehaving, we will leave, but the misbehavor will also lose computer priviledges - for an uncertain duration.

It evidently worked. They were both quite well behaved. I only had to give warnings 2 times, once to both kids and once to M.

We went on Goliath first. A was very good-natured all day about waiting in lines for rides he didn't want to ride - and then holding onto our water bottle, map and my hat. M and I rode Goliath once, then M wanted to ride again - but this time I waited with A. Both times had barely any line - I think we waited for about 3 trains.

Next we went to Thunder River. Got right on. And got soaked! Absolutely completely soaked, as in not a dry inch of me. You may not be able to see it here, but M and A are also drenched.

This is from the 2nd time we rode Thunder River - after all, we were already soaked, why not ride it again??

Around 11, we headed over to the bumper cars. They are one of the favorites for all of us - and they get really crowded later on (but for some strange reason, don't seem to operate until almost an hour after the park opens). We rode 3 times, each time waiting for only one ride cycle.

Next on to the Scream Machine. I don't like this one as much as I used to - it whipped my head around too much. I hope I'll remember this next year and give it a pass. It's the biggest coaster that A will ride, though.

Next up was Skull Island.

It's a large water park within Six Flags - about 5 slides, lots of water toys, etc. No pool area, though. Extremely chlorinated water! I sat in the shade while the kids played for a while.

I saw a group of elementary aged kids from a camp there at Skull Island and was amazed that they would be able to corral about 30 kids all at the same time when they needed to leave. I had a hard time finding my TWO kids both at the same time. I really think they need a big horn blast once an hour so you can tell the kids, "time to come find me when the horn blows".

After lunch we went to ride the Mindbender. It's one of my favorite rides - a triple loop (well, 2 real loops and one that is more like a corkscrew). It's a "gentler" loop than Ninja, which M also rode (for the first time). In both cases, the wait was minimal. We got on the very next train on Ninja and on the 3rd train on Mindbender. The only time I've ever had such short wait times at Six Flags was when I was a kid and we went with school, before summer vacation started.

Then on to the Swings. We rode twice - the second time we experience a "ride malfunction". It all went fine until the very end, when we were left suspended about 6-8 feet off the ground for almost 5 minutes. Not particularly scary, but didn't really make me want to ride it again.

We saw the Justice League. And even got pictures with them.

We tried to track down Green Lantern for a photo, but couldn't. I did get a photo of him later in a little parade, but it's not a great shot.

Then it was back to Skull Island for some more water play. Everything was going wonderfully, until A managed to scrape up his foot. He doesn't know quite how it happened, but we had to track down a park employee to get a bandage. A's foot was really bothering him so it was obviously time to leave (that and it was also 5pm). I ended up piggy-backing A through much of the park - of course we were on the far side of the park when he got hurt! We took the sky-tram across the park to cut the walking - helped a lot. A did walk some, but it obviously hurt him.

All-in-all a great day. We all wished D could have been there, including D. We'll have to plan earlier next year. And, today, A's foot is much improved - almost back to normal.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I finished it!

Finally at 10 pm, I finished the last HP. I know that seems like a long time since it came out on Saturday midnight, but a lot has happened since then.

We got the book around dinnertime on Sat and M proceeded to monopolize it until Sunday afternoon.

Then D took the book the rest of Sunday.

Monday I had to do grocery shopping and back-to-school shopping (with kids in tow, which always takes longer), plus try to catch up on camping laundry and A's laundry from camp - both make more laundry than usual. I got a few hours to read HP on Monday afternoon, then D came home and finished the book. I read a bit more Monday night - up later than I should have been.

Today I took the kids to Six Flags. We had a great time. I'll post about it later - but didn't get home til 6:45. Between being tired from traipsing around all day and dinner and getting kids ready for bed.... it was very frustrating, being close to the end and being so caught up in the story to have to keep having interruptions:

M: I don't have any more toothpaste - have to go find him some.
read another chapter
hmm, M is finished brushing his teeth, where is A? Find him on the bathroom floor, reading HP5 and not brushing his teeth.
Remind him to brush
read a few pages.
M: I want a kitty.
me: I think there's one on the deck. If you can find a cat, you can try to take it to bed. He manages.
read another few pages
Go kiss M goodnight.
read a few pages
Check on A again. He needs a bookmark.
read a few pages
A is in bed - go kiss him goodnight

Finally - get to read uninterrupted. Kids went to sleep quickly and quietly - Six Flags must have really tired them out!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

HP update

M finished it yesterday and is dying to talk about the book. D just finished it a few minutes ago. So, now I can dive back into HP. I'm currently on page 388. I'm hoping to finish the book before I hear any spoilers...


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why I LOVE Harry Potter

1. When Harry is around it's quiet

Both kids read all the way home from our camping trip.

2. Both kids love to read HP. We got the latest book about 6pm on Sat and M read it on the way to dinner, on the way home from dinner, on the way from camping and finished it up here at home this afternoon.
He was done by 3pm. Now D is reading it. D got next dibs because he has to go back to work tomorrow, but I can read some during the day (though I'll have to give it back in the evening). M is under strict orders not to discuss what happens - not even the early WOW. A says he doesn't want to hear either - that will be a bit tougher as he's only in the middle of HP 5. But A is plowing steadily onward - he's read all the way from the beginning of the series this summer.

3. For that matter, D and I both love to read HP. As M says, I will be sorry to finish the book because its the end of the series.

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A had a GREAT time at camp!

D and M and I headed up to North GA Friday night, so we could be closer to camp Sat morning. It was a great idea - we had about a 45 min drive to camp instead of 2.5 hours. That's a lot of difference on a Sat morning when we needed to pick A up at 10 am. We camped at Unicoi State Park. It was really nice, but unfortunately you have to go through Helen to get there (or at least that's the easiest route) and Helen is a parking lot on the weekends.
We got to camp and got A. He was very happy to see us - and full of stories about how much fun camp was. He had lost a shirt and towel (exactly why I send old towels to camp), but we were able to find both in the enormous lost and found bin. He was particularly happy to find the shirt as it was one of his favorites. Oh, and when we picked him up, he was wearing the yellow shirt again. Same one as in several pictures from camp. Yes, this one:

This was Sat night eating s'mores back at our campsite.

A tells me that my guess of soccer at camp was partly right - it was 6 ball soccer. Sounds wild!

After getting A at camp we headed to Dahlonega, hoping to do a gold mine tour/panning for gold and then some tubing. All the driving around to get A from camp and then the saga of having to go back to our campsite to try to snag another night's reservation (bad us for waiting so late to make campsite reservations!), we only had time to do one thing. The kids chose tubing - so tubing it was. It was fun. The river (creek?) was a bit shallow in places so we had to push ourselves off rocks at various times. Rather different from previous tubing I've done where the river was more like knee to waist deep and with a faster current. Though with the rocks right near the surface, this had a little bit of rapids feel - but just enough to be fun. No pictures from tubing - not going to take the camera tubing with me...

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A at Camp Mikell

Here is A with a group of boys. I'm guessing this is the boys in his cabin. A is front row, on the left - holding a yellow shirt and a can of soda in front of his face.

A playing soccer perhaps? Though that doesn't look like a traditional soccer ball.

The above 2 pictures were taken on Wed, according to iPhoto. And the one below on Thur. Note, though, the shirt is the same. I have a feeling A is going to come home with a fair amount of clean laundry....

I did see one later photo where he is wearing a different shirt. So he is changing sometimes... And it may be that the dates on the photos are not quite right.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PR Fruit

A in front of a small banana plant.

The banana plant is not actually a tree, although some plants get to be more than 20 feet tall. Each plant grows one bunch of bananas and after those bananas ripen, the plant dies. This is a relatively small bunch. Our host said that some of their larger bunches weigh as much as 100 pounds!!! That's a LOT of bananas ripe at once. He said they eat a bunch, give their guest as many as they want, make banana bread, share with the neighbors. And when they are dealing with 100 lbs, often the neighbors goat gets some too.

This is a breadfruit hanging in the tree.

This is an avocado tree. They should ripen up sometime this fall, I think we were told.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Some photos from the island of Vieques.

This is the view from the roof of the hotel we stayed at:

Very small hotel - only 12 rooms.

View from the beach that first night. It isn't stormy, just the sun going down.

We were very surprised, every evening, at how early and quickly the sun went down. It would start getting dark around 7 and by 7:20 would be dark. Here it's not that dark until at least 9 pm. Some of the early dark is due to being further east in the timezone, and some to being closer to the equator. Whichever it is, it was rather odd. It also made dinner seem really late, since we often were eating closer to 7 and the kids aren't used to it being dark at dinner in the summer. Much of the time its still light here when they go to bed in the summer.

A making a sandcastle on the beach that first evening. They only had about 20 minutes to play on the beach that night due to dark, hunger and bugs.

There were wild horses all over the place on Vieques, but of course, we rarely saw them when I could actually get a picture. We saw at least 5 the night we went to the bio-bay, but I didn't have the digital camera with me (and couldn't take a picture through the windows of the van we were in).

Red beach. I think its called Caracas beach by the locals. If you could put these pictures next to each other, you would get a panoramic view of the beach.

This beach was really pretty. Nice sand, clean, no trash. There were a bunch of picnic shelters for use. We pulled up next to one and unloaded our stuff. This beach is in an area that used to be controlled by the US Navy, so maybe they built the shelters (or maybe 4H did - we saw a big 4H sign on the entrace to Red Beach).


Pictures from the Vieques Ferry

Here is what A was doing most of the time on the ferry:

View from the ferry:

Another view from the ferry - note the other ferry on the left and the rusted hulk of a ship just sitting out there, on the right. I wonder if its been left there sink the last hurricane?


Monday, July 16, 2007

Vieques Ferry

Sunday was a travel day. We enjoyed our breakfast at La Bombonera Sat so much that we went back into Old San Juan to try a full cooked breakfast on Sunday. We got lucky and got there right before a good-sized line formed to get a table. M had to have another grilled Mallorca, of course. And D had a ham and cheese Mallorca sandwich (again, with powdered sugar on top) - quite tasty. I think A had pancakes and eggs/bacon for me, but they weren't nearly as memorable as the Mallorcas!

We left our hotel near San Juan and headed east to Fajardo to catch the ferry. Along the way we stopped at an outlet mall to look for a baseball cap for a PR baseball team for D. D wants a hat for some specific PR baseball team - doesn't matter which one. Just one specific one, not a general island-wide team. No luck. In fact, he asked various people throughout our stay and they don't seem to be readily available. As far as we can tell, the only way to get baseball paraphanelia is to go to one of their games. That wasn't possible for us as baseball is a winter sport in PR.

We got to the ferry and had plenty of time and no trouble getting tickets. The tickets are cheap! $6 total for a 75 min ferry ride for all 4 of us. I think they used more than $6 in air conditioning the ferry. It was COLD. Extremely cold, frigidly cold. D and I each spent some time riding outside, which was a far better temperature, but had a lot of diesel fumes at times.

Once we got to Vieques, we tried to buy tickets for our return trip (to make sure we had them, and so we wouldn't have to show up quite as early), but the ticket office seemed to be closed. Huh. Must be that island time... By the time we'd fiddled with that, we needed to find a taxi to the rental car place. There was only one publico (public taxi van) left and we got crammed onto it. When we got to the rental car place, it turned out that we were at the WRONG rental car place. Oops! We had looked into several and thought we had used this one, but in reality had booked a car with another one. We got a ride from someone there - I think it was that agency person taking people back to the ferry or something and not just some family that had just rented a car, but I'm not really sure. We finally did get our car, a small SUV (never driven an SUV before), that was a bit beat up. The agency person said that they knew the condition of the roads around the island and they expected some wear and tear - not to worry unless we put fairly obvious dents or scratches in the car. Much nicer attitude than the rental car people on PR who acted like they were going to count all the scratches (and there were MANY on that car too) and charge us for any we had not managed to mark on their intitial car damage report.

There are pictures in and from the ferry, but Blogger is not cooperating with pictures tonight. Maybe tomorrow. And maybe I'll finish up writing all about this trip before I've forgotten all the details I want to remember - or not.


How to make M happy

By getting an email from Apple saying that they have reduced the price of the 2GB iPod and they are automatically refunding the excess! To the tune of $10.70 (including tax). That is a princely sum to my M! It's almost 2 weeks allowance. And for a 2nd happy day thought, a little later came another email from Apple telling us that his iPod has been shipped. It should be here sometime the end of this week (or Monday at the latest).

Now I just have to figure out which of at least 3 different ways will work best to manage 2 iPods off the same computer.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

A goes to camp

A break in my vacation reporting to bring you up to speed on what else is happening in our lives....

We got home Thursday night. I did several loads of laundry on Friday, getting ready to get A packed to head off to camp today, Sunday. We drove him up to Camp Mikell this afternoon and dropped him off. I can't believe my baby is off for a whole week of sleepaway camp. It doesn't faze him in the slightest. He was all excited to go and do all the fun camp type stuff - tye-dying, swimming, hiking, etc. Several of the counselors remembered him from his being there with my mom the last 2 years. But this time, he's on his own. I know he'll have a GREAT time! Now, I just need to write to him...

Meanwhile M has finally saved up enough money for that iPod he's been craving. He's ordered a 2GB silver, refurbished iPod from the Apple store. He can't wait for it to arrive!

Blogger has been giving me fits with uploading photos - sometimes it will do it beautifully, other times it will say "loading" for multiple hours and never do anything. Tonight its been working, but it's past my bedtime, so hopefully it will cooperate again tomorrow...

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Old San Juan

Saturday was our day to spend in Old San Juan. We'd decided we wanted to try a bakery that had been recommended in Old San Juan, so we got in the car and took off. It's a very pretty drive along the beach and not too hard to get into a parking garage. We even got to drive over some of the blueish cobblestone streets.

We tried to go to the tourist office - actually we tried several, but none of them seemed to be open on a Saturday! In fact, not much was open early in the morning. We finally found the restaurant/bakery that had been recommended - La Bombonera:

I love the fancy tile work on the sign!

We were a little confused as to how this all worked. There was a display case of pasteries out front and then a restaurant in the back. We picked out our pasteries, but they were packed "to go". D wanted some coffee and we all thought we'd like to sit and maybe get something else, so we found a booth and sat down. We ended up ordering a few things, including the grilled toasted Mallorca* that was recommended - yummy! It was a rich, slightly eggy pastry, dusted with powdered sugar, that had been grilled and buttered. We all loved it. We also got a half pineapple to share. Wow- what a fancy treat!

* I had forgottent that the recommendation was for a grilled Mallorca, so I had gotten one in the pastry case - they are tasty enough at room temp, but much better toasted!

When we left the restaurant, we found a trolley stop and caught the free trolley, hoping to take it up to the El Morro fort. Well, no, the trolley took us on a loop of San Juan closer to the cruise ship docks. It was a nice little ride and we got to see some of the area, but it didn't get us any nearer to the fort. We found out later that there are 2 different trolleys, but we never did find the ones that go up to the fort, though we tried to ride one back down from there.

We wandered our way up to the fort, stopping to go in and out the old city gate and see the outside of the city walls. Then up, up, up to El Morro. It is a big fortification, with lots of interesting nooks and crannies for kids to climb around in.
M in one of the towers:

A, back in one of the sentry boxes (I'm not sure that's what they called them - long slotted window for shooting out of), with me in front. They were a bit too short for me to go through - or at least not without stooping.

Here's a view out of one of the windows on the upper level. So beautiful!

This is a view out of one of the lower level windows - I really liked the bars and the palm tree just outside the window.

After El Morro, we were all ready for lunch, so off we headed to find something. We looked at one place that had been recommended, but it looked far too fancy and heavy for lunch, so we asked about somewhere we could find sandwiches. We found a little place around the corner. M wasn't too sure of it at first, but then he found he could get a grilled cheese Mallorca, yep, complete with powdered sugar. He was in heaven!

A wanted a shrimp dinner, but we vetoed that - too expensive and way more food than he could eat. He ended up with a tuna fish sandwich which he really enjoyed. D had a Cubana and I had a Media Noche (just like a Cubana, except on a slightly sweeter bread).

Then it was back to the pigeon park we'd visited briefly earlier in the morning. The kids had really enjoyed watching and trying to feed the pigeons - a kid there had shared a handful of feed with M and he wanted to go get more feed himself. So, back we went. We bought a big bag of feed and we all had pigeons eating out of our hands:

M even got one to land on him to eat!

A says, they have sharp little beaks (and he's right):

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rio Camuy Caves

Friday was our first full day in Puerto Rico and we set off west of San Juan to go visit the Rio Camuy Caves and the Radio Telescope Observatory. We'd read that they could both be pretty crowded, especially on summer weekends, so we tried to get an early start. The owner of the guest house said that we'd be fine if we got there by 10:30, so off we went. We got there a little later than we had wanted - we were aiming for more like 10, but crazy PR roads and heavy rain didn't help.

The roads in PR are generally very good, but they have an annoying habit of adding and dropping lanes without warning. I'd be driving along and all of a sudden, hello, I'm merging with the next lane - no signs whatsoever! Or, I'd think I'm in the right lane ready to exit and, whoops, there's another lane of traffic appearing. It's a bit disconcerting, especially in the rain.

Anyway, we got to the caves and got our numbers and then our tickets (you get in based on your number when entering) and then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Then we had lunch and waited even more. Then finally our numbers were called and we got to see the video about the caves. Then we get in line for the trolley down to the caves - we're going to be on the next trolley. When - drip, drip, drip - it starts to rain. They suspend the trolleys while its raining. A and I head for shelter while M and D try to wait out the rain. After a bit, M joins us in the shelter. D said that all the Puerto Ricans headed for shelter and only the crazy tourists stood out in the rain (somewhat sheltered under a tree, but still their shirts were all soaked).

Finally the rain ended and we got to get on the trolley. On the trip down to the caves I could see why they suspend running the trolleys in the rain - it was very steep and somewhat slippery as it was.

The caves are rather open and airy as caves go. There are even plants growing in them, that's how much light they get. Here is M in front of the cave opening, from the inside.

We went through the caves to another large opening on the other side. There was a "waterfall" trickling down the face of the cliff. Our guide claimed it was special youthful mineral water and that it was clean and pure and wonderful. So we all took a handful to sip. Then I filled our water bottle - the kids wanted to bring it home with us as a souvenier.

By the time we got done with the cave tour, it was too late to go to the observatory. Had we realized just how long it would take to get on a tour, we could have gotten our numbers, then left to go see the observatory and come back to tour the caves. But that's hindsight...


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back from Vacation

We're back from our week in Puerto Rico - it was great. It was hot. I'm tired and ready for a night in my own bed!

We were able to do some laundry in the last place we stayed, so at least I don't have a huge mountain of dirty laundry awaiting me - just a hill of laundry.

But laundry and unpacking and downlowding the camera will have to wait for tomorrow... it's time for bed!


Monday, July 02, 2007

County meet photos

What did the kids spend most of their time doing at the county meet? Take a look and see:

A is deep into the 4th Harry Potter book

M took his DS and played various games all day

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

9 LONG hours later...

It was the longest swim meet I've ever been too. 9 hours is WAY TOO LONG! A and I were there the whole time. M and D managed to only be there 7.5 hours. We're not doing this again! Either we will split up the kids and each of us adults will go with one kid to watch/help and then go home or we will arrange to be gone or something.

I was miserable. It was hot - no AC in the gym (where we were supposed to be hanging out) or in the pool area. The meet also ran overtime, big time. We should have been done by 7:30-8pm, instead we were there until 10pm. Ugh. I can't remember the last time I felt that miserable without actually being in pain.

The head of the team begs everyone to be there - we need all the swimmers, you're all important, etc. We want the team to do really well, win the county meet - but then they sabotage themselves by making sure every kid is in a relay. If they really want to win, then put together the best relays possible for this meet. They sabotaged some kids chances (albeit not very good chances, looking at their previous best times) at individual events by swimming them up so many age groups in a relay that they got out of the pool and didn't even have time to leave the pool deck before swimming again. A relay with 3 eleven year olds and one 16 yo is not going to be competitive with four 15-18 yos. Not gonna happen.

A did manage to improve his time in the long free (2 lengths of the pool). But it still didn't put him close to the top 8 places (which all get ribbons).

M had a good chance of placing in butterfly. There were 10 swimmers entered and one didn't show up, so 9 entrants, with 8 ribboning. M managed to swim faster than his best time and came in 7th, but he didn't manage to do it with a legal stroke, so he doesn't get the best time or the ribbon and points for 7th. He was doing a breaststroke kick (frog kick) instead of a butterfly kick (dolphin kick). M swears he wasn't, but I saw it and more importantly, the stroke-and-turn judge saw it.

What the kids spent most of their hours doing:
Hanging out in the hot gym
Waiting to be seated for their next swim (often immediately after finishing one race)
Reading - A
playing on the DS - M
(photos if Blogger ever cooperates)

Team party tomorrow. Might help to end the season on a better note.