21 April Friday

We were looking at animal pictures and I said that cat is playing with…and waited for Jack to finish my sentence. Jack said with sweet balls. Heh, Jack does love to play with balls. He used to only say sweet baby, or other obviously sweet things. Lately he’s been branching out and calling other things sweet, and it’s pretty funny sometimes.

I told Jack we could go to the beach today. I felt bad because we were supposed to go yesterday and time got away from me. I think there was a ship out there though, so we would have had to come back. So today I put a swimsuit in the truck and figured if the ship was still there I’d find him a playground. Either way we were getting out of the house. We drove the five minutes down the street to the beach and when I was helping Jack change into his swimsuit I realize he peed his pants! I can’t reward that kind of behavior so we headed on back home. I feel bad for him but when is he ever going to learn? I meant to remind him to go to the bathroom, so I felt a little guilty. But honestly at this point he should know better.

We went home and after a little while I made a bone collector pizza. I had made the dough before we left, so all I had to do was put the pizza together and bake it. I think I’ve found it! Somehow the dough wasn’t right, but everything else was perfect. I don’t know how to fix the dough problem. It just seemed breadier than the restaurant’s dough, drier…next time I’ll try more olive oil on the dough before baking.

22 April Saturday

Max is so funny sometimes. I thought I’d give the boys a treat, so I sent them off to the vending machine with my coin purse and told them they each had a dollar to spend. He bought Jack’s candy first, and the candy machine took his money. So he used his dollar to get Jack’s candy. When he came home I could tell something was wrong but I didn’t know what because I saw candy in his hand. I asked what the problem was and he told me what happened. I was surprised he didn’t just use the rest of the money to get his candy. And it was surprising to me that he didn’t storm in the door angry about what happened, he just seemed resigned. Anyway I wasn’t gonna make them share when it wasn’t his fault. I took him back to get his candy.

He decided he wanted a Snickers bar. I put the dollar in and of course the machine ate the dollar again! At that point I had called the number on the machine and reported that we lost $2. I had a dollar left in nickels and dimes so I decided to chance it and we lucked out, 2 Snickers fell. Max was so happy and kept saying I have two Snickers now! I told him he had a Snickers and I had a Snickers, and he was super crestfallen. All the points I gained for giving him a dollar, I lost for taking one of ‘his’ Snickers away. Sometimes you just can’t win as a parent. We went back home and had a few lessons left and then we were going to the beach. Jack went to the bathroom and when I checked on him I saw that he peed on the floor! Still not winning as a mother. I cleaned him up and emphasized again how to pee without getting it all over. Now we’re at the beach.

Well, maybe I am winning as a parent…Max is staying home by himself where he feels king of the castle, and Jack gets to play at the beach which is one of his favorite things. Filling up a bottle that he found on the beach with water and pouring it out, filling it up and pouring it out, filling it up and pouring it out. I’ll probably let him do that for two hours and then we’ll go home.

When it was time to go we found the hose we used the other day and went to rinse off. Jack turned it on and it danced around full of water pressure like you see in the movies…it was so funny!

23 April Sunday

We went to Cerritos Baptist Church again for the 11 o’clock service. When I brought the boys to their class they said they’re on Hawaiian time and class usually starts 20 minutes late. I stood in the hallway and talked to 2 women about our magnificent trip. One of them is named Laura, and now we’re facebook friends. When their class started I headed to church where I’d missed the song service, but a woman was preaching! Doh! Good thing this is our last Sunday here.

I looked at a million places to go out to eat today for lunch, and found a deli with lots of good reviews that makes Reuben sandwiches. I was extremely disappointed when they brought me a pastrami sandwich with sauerkraut, mustard and pickles! That’s not a Reuben!!!!! I was so bummed! Of course when I read their description that’s how they described that sandwich. But really, everyone knows what a Reuben is, and that’s not it. Max got 6 hot wings…I had a bite of one and it was good. I bought Jack the breakfast burrito (chorizo, scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon), which was fine. I ate half of that and gave him half of my sandwich. The burrito was highly praised on Yelp, but I thought it was just ok. Overall the whole thing was a disappointment. I don’t go out to eat much when Tj’s not around so it’s annoying to have my treat not really be a treat.

After lunch Max wanted to go to Goodwill. It took me a few minutes to realize he just didn’t want to go home and finish that one lesson he had left, but I was happy to go shopping. In the end we went to 4 Goodwills and bought a scooter for each boy, a suit jacket for Max and an ice cube tray. Then we went to Walmart which is where I’d planned to go…Tj needs new jeans. While there I bought new pj’s. After I tried them on at home I decided I’d rather have the solid black instead of the gray color so I left both boys getting ready for bed and exchanged my pj’s by myself.

When I got in the truck and plugged my phone in the Pioneer screen just blinked off and on over and over. I was in a hurry so I just used my phone to navigate. I called Tj and chatted with him on the way and then figured out it was probably my phone having problems, not the stereo. I restarted my phone when I got to Walmart and everything worked fine on the way home. I hope I don’t have a repeat of my last phone…where I have to return this phone before they’ll send out a replacement.

24 April Monday

We only have 4 school days left!!

Sadly, today is a fighting day. Jack is bucking everything I say. I asked him to open the curtains, he opens half of them halfway. He asked (like he has the last 4 mornings) to open the windows and I said no…it’s too cold first thing in the morning. He opened them. He got out utensils after I’d already gotten some out and then he wouldn’t put his back. The other day I told him to stand on the world that’s pictured on the rug and he stood with just the barest part of his toes on it. When he does obey it’s with sooooo much disobedience/defiance. It really wears me down. I don’t want to fuss at him all the time, but I can’t let him get away with this stuff. I need a nap. Other things he routinely disobeys on: writing his name the way I tell him to. If I say write your full name he writes his first name and last initial, if I say write just your first name he writes his full name. This is not an understanding problem, it’s a willpower problem. Also, the shoe thing. I try to keep a lot of sand out of the bus. Every time he plays at the playground here he comes back with pants and shoes full of sand. I tell him to stay on the steps in the bus till his shoes are put away. So of course he takes one step into the bus. He usually doesn’t go much farther, he just steps on the rug and waits for me to see. Also the seatbelt. If he’s feeling moody he puts his seatbelt on as slowly as possible and leaves the belt over the arm of his booster, then watches me until I see and fuss at him. This post is depressing.

Sweet things about him: he snuggles with me each morning. In the middle of school a thousand times he’ll stop and reach across the table to give me a hug. He is really wonderful, but also wonderfully ornery.

If this post wasn’t bad enough, this is the day we found out that Max was using the computer inappropriately. He’s on restriction now.

25 April Tuesday

I stayed up late last night watching the rest of Grey’s Anatomy and waiting for the time I needed to leave to pick up TJ. I left the house around 12:30 am, and left the boys sleeping. TJ’s flight went a little long, so I had a little while to read my phone in the truck. After he got in we headed off to Randy’s Donuts again. I was so bummed they didn’t have an apple fritter! We got several things and headed back home where we found the boys still sound asleep. We went to bed ourselves, and of course Tj pulled his usual stunt: I’m not sleepy after he’d been exhausted five minutes before.

We got up and did school today and I made sandwiches for lunch at Tj’s request. Then I asked Tj to read with Jack and I made our end of year cake. Hannah found a wonderful looking cake recipe on fb the other day and I’ve been drooling over it ever since! I took out the butter and cream cheese for the icing last night before bed so it would be room temp when I was ready. Man, making a cake in this tiny place is a feat! I felt like an acrobat doing that with so little counter space while also helping the boys with their school as Tj finished up some work in the back.

While the cake was cooling we headed out to see the beach. I’ve been meaning to stop at the little shopette so we did that on the way. The lady there looked like she didn’t really appreciate little kids coming in; she followed us all around and after TJ told Jack not to touch the emergency exit door she made sure to tell him 3 or 4 more times not to open the emergency exit door. Good thing she was watching us like a hawk!

When we first walked in that store I saw somebody off to the right in my peripheral vision, I thought it was a mannequin. I was so surprised when it moved; it turned out to be another customer leaving the store! I laughed so hard I could hardly say anything, and TJ thought I was surprised and hadn’t seen the guy because he was in camo. That was also funny but not the reason.

When we were finished there we got back in the truck and headed to the beach. Sadly we saw there was a ship out, so we headed back home. Jack was disappointed but he got over it pretty quickly. We sent the boys out to play while I frosted the cake. I realized towards the end that I didn’t have enough frosting…the cake made more than a 11×17 pan, so I made 11 cupcakes also. Tj whipped up a batch of lemon frosting for the cupcakes. Before he was finished with that I made pizza dough for 2 pizzas, and we had buffalo pizza for supper. I think those were the best doughs I’ve ever made! I was so excited! After they rested a minute or two I poured lots of oil on the pan and turned and stretched them in that oil. Maybe that’s the secret!

26 April Wednesday

Today we went to Legoland. It was pretty fun, but after a few hours there we finally asked a dude who worked there what rides were good for older kids. There weren’t really any. I think Legoland is just mainly for kids up through age eight or so. The roller coasters may have been a little exciting for Jack but not so much for the rest of us. They were fun, just nothing that made me ever want to go back there again. We started off at the front letting Max go wherever he wanted and be the one to decide what to do. This day was mostly for him. After a little bit Jack got bored so I took him around and let him take the lead while TJ stayed with Max playing video games. Jack and I rode a little water ride and then we rode a round and round ride. A little bit later we decided to go back and find the rest of the family. It seemed like Max could spend the whole day looking at all the Lego models, especially all the Star Wars creations. Many of the battles were there and there were buttons to press for sound effects and to set the people to fighting or dancing or whatever they were doing. It was also neat to see all the interesting places in the world recreated in Legos: Vegas, New Orleans, Washington, etc. So many of the interesting places were places we have just been to this last year :-) TJ started getting bored so I tried to shuttle Max into choosing some roller coasters, and then we saw a build your own boat and float it down little water way exhibit. The boys played with that for a while and then we headed to lunch. We all had Bahn Mi sandwiches which were pretty good. It makes me wanna make some sort of marinated veggie slaw to put on our sandwiches and remember to put coleslaw on there too! The one we had was fried pork belly with slaw and cilantro.

After lunch we rode a couple of rides where you shoot bad guys and get points. Then we started looking for the dragon roller coaster, and on our way to it we saw a robotic arm ride. The line was so short I didn’t have a chance to read that there were five different levels of speed on this ride. Jack and I rode together on level 2. You can never tell how he’s going to react to a ride so we just hope for the best. I was told I had to take my earrings off, which kind of surprised me, but it looked pretty fun watching the other people. We strapped in and the guy turned the machine on and I just started laughing, it was so funny. That arm just picked us up and shook us around and around, oh my goodness I could have done that a few more times! Jack, on the other hand, was fussing the whole time. He kept calling my name and saying we’re finished we’re finished! I reached over to try to push his head back; the worst part of the ride was having your head banged around, but we were both in harnesses that came over our shoulders and down over our bellies which made it hard for me to reach his head, and yet I still laughed the whole time! TJ and Max rode it on a level 5 and I got a little video of that. After that we went through it again and Max rode by himself on level 1 and TJ and I rode on level 5. I much preferred level 2 just because of the head knocking around business.

The whole ride was 3 robotic arms reaching up from the ground, all set in a pool of water. When Jack and I were on it the first time I saw someone’s cell phone in water. When Tj and I rode it I asked the ride operator why the phone was still there. She said it was dropped this morning and they were only allowed to stop the ride and go into the water for certain things like medication and keys. Not phones. Doh!

We rode a couple more roller coasters after that, they were fine, just nothing exciting to talk about. About 4:30 we started heading back to the front because the whole place closes at 5. Right at the entrance was a minifigure shop so we let Max go in and look around and then bought him 3 mini figures. When we got back to the truck we searched around for a place to eat for a bit. I said that BBQ was kind of calling to me and found a place that had more than a thousand reviews, so we went there. I needed to parallel park on the passenger side, and the traffic was somewhat low so I set about about doing that, but I quickly realized it wasn’t working out. I asked TJ to help me, and the second time he told me when to cut the wheel. I was lining up properly, just not lining up properly for my first turn. I forgot that I needed to be about even with the back of the front car before turning. My second time I got us all in perfectly! And that was even with realizing at the beginning of the second time that there was somebody sitting in the car ahead of me waiting to pull out…it was a cop!! I kept my cool though and parked and we went to the restaurant. At first Tj said I hope it’s not that restaurant across the street because that looks too much like a bar and I don’t feel good about taking the kids in there. Haha! That was it of course. When we got closer though it looked fine. And that was a good thing cuz it turned out to have awesome BBQ! He read about the dirty fries on the way there so we got that for the appetizer. That consisted of wonderful french fries, macaroni and cheese sauce, pulled pork and jalapenos on top. The boys and I split the barbecue sampler which came with brisket, sausage which was heavenly, and ribs which were also pretty good. TJ got a brisket plate that was awesome. We brought back enough food to probably feed us again.

On our way home there was a semi pulling two trailers in our lane ahead of us by a few car lengths. I noticed it weaving left and right left and right in an alarming manner. I backed off a little bit and then zoomed around it. Fewf!

One funny thing I noticed about CA but haven’t thought to mention till now is how surprising to me it is to see oil derricks right in the middle of the city. I had this notion that CA was a mecca for people who were supremely earth conscious, and that it would just be clean and wonderful living here. I’ve been here before, but it’s been several years. I don’t know what I was thinking, no one area/state is ever fully homogenized. But I was surprised at the congestion (both in traffic and in tons of houses all crammed together on a hillside…like a neater version of Mexico) and oil derricks in this state.

27 April Thursday

We got up and worked on our second to last day of school! Woohoo! Around 2 or 3pm I asked TJ if we were going to the beach what time should we go. He said right now, so we wrapped up school, got our chairs and left.

We didn’t stay too long at the beach. It was colder than the other times I’ve been and TJ didn’t bring a jacket. We headed back to the bus and started packing up the outside stuff a little bit while Jack took a shower and got ready for tonight. We left at 5 for the pirate show. There were hour durves, they were probably all frozen prepared kids foods, but they were good. There were fried mozzarella sticks which were my favorite, fried macaroni and cheese bites which were TJ’s favorite, salami and cheese on french bread, ham and cheese on french bread, BBQ meatball on french bread, and we also went and got a plate of veggies with ranch dip. TJ got us all drinks and we sat at a little table and ate and laughed and talked until the the pre-show show started. Max and another boy his age walked around and played a bit, and then we had the pre-show.

After that we were all ushered into the dining area and got front row seats there. It was a good show, but again not quite as much fun as Dixie Stampede I guess. It did have my favorite part of all three of those types of shows though. I love it when the people dance with the huge strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling, they roll themselves up in it twisting the fabric around their bodies and then unroll quickly toward the earth. I just think it’s amazing what humans can do when they work that hard. It’s amazing to me to see the muscles and the poise that comes from years of training. I know I could do that with my body if I just worked that hard, but I have very little interest in sacrificing that much!

28 April Friday

Max has 5 reviews, and 5 finals today and he needs to finish his autobiography. I think he has about a hundred words left to write and then to refine his autobiography. I hope this is his last day of school, but with the craziness that travel brings I won’t be surprised if he needs to do some of his work tomorrow.

I had kind of an epiphany yesterday as our whole family was on a walk by the base. We were talking about Jack wetting his pants and I said something about if it was like math where I knew he just didn’t understand it that would be one thing, and it made me think that maybe it is like math, maybe he just doesn’t have the capability to not pee his pants. He hasn’t had an accident in years that made a puddle on the floor, but he often has accidents that leave a significant visible spot on his pants. I think I want to stop punishing him for wetting his pants, just reiterate how sad his dad and I are when he does that.

Its 2:40 and we’re about 40 minutes away from our stopping point today. Max has taken 3 reviews and 3 final exams. He’s made an A on all finals so far: Bible, language arts and science. We decided to let him go watch TV with Jack for the rest of our ride and then he can take his other two finals tomorrow on our way up to San Francisco.

We checked in and pulled into our spot. We unhooked the truck, leveled the bus quickly, hooked up the water and electricity, turned the a/c’s on and hit the road. We drove a little over an hour to the San Andres Fault. There was a woman there from a geology museum that I talked to a bit and then we walked around a bit and took some pictures. There wasn’t much to see…I was surprised that it was a creek at this time, but it’s cool to think we walked from one tectonic plate to the other. That may not be the only time we’ve done that, but it was the only time I knew it when I did it!

On the way there I had Max bring his laptop and work on his final project…his autobiography turned story of our trip. He turned it in and now only has Math and History review/final. For real. I probably already said he was almost finished but I’d forgotten about this 700 word autobiography he had to do.

Tj and I looked on Yelp for places to eat. There was a cafe there at the tiny town at the fault I kinda wanted to try, but Tj wasn’t hungry and we had no internet connection to see if they had any reviews. Of course when we got back to the bus he had to tell me they had a good rating. We finally settled on going back to the bus. While the boys set up camp I reheated our leftover french fries/rosemary potatoes, put cheese on the top, put an egg on top of that for the boys, and heated up bbq pulled pork and ribs to also put on the top of mine and Tj’s. We watched The Force Awakens while we ate supper and finished off the cake. I really don’t know how good that cake was, but the icing was amazing!!

29 April Saturday

Well, we knew we would be a little late, but the bed fiasco meant we pulled out at 10:40. I awoke at 7:30 with the alarm. Actually I was awake before that…we slept with the windows open again (like we have almost every night since Tucson), and the light from the bathroom skylight/fan shone like a flashlight in my eyes. Tj woke up about 7:45 when Jay/Karit was fb messaging me about meeting up tomorrow. How does fb messager override the DND setting on my phone? This is the dumbest DND setup I’ve ever heard of. I was so excited that I got a tangible button on the side of my phone to mute it, but it bugs me to no end that the in-app alert on Textra alarms even with DND set. And now this one. Oh well. Technology isn’t perfect, but so much of it is really nice to have.

Back to getting ready to go. We decided to all shower this morning since we won’t be hooked up to sewer these next two days. Also, Tj wanted to flush the back black in case we had a blockage. So maybe we should’ve gotten up earlier? Nah. We got almost everything done, truck all hooked up and everything, and then the bed.

We’ve had troubles with it since that Florida trip the first year, but at least we’ve been able to get it up and down. These last few times I’ve pushed up on the right side as we’re putting it up to help it along, and we thought all was fine. But this morning the left side would go up a couple of revolutions and then stop! I tried pushing up on that side and couldn’t get it to budge. Then I pushed the button and Tj pushed up on that side and it worked fine, but then the right side wouldn’t go up enough to put the pin in. Ugh. We stayed calm and tried a few other things…I even suggested having Max come in and press the button while both Tj and I pushed up on the bed…but before we resorted to that we got it up. I think we shouldn’t put the bed down until we get to our next long stop in about 2 weeks, but Tj thinks we’re good to go again…that it got off track but now we know how to keep it on track. I guess we’ll see!

We stopped at about 1 o’clock to gas up the bus. There was a Wendy’s connected to the gas station so we had lunch there. TJ turned the Honda off, so we had to redo the tow vehicle/three minute deal before we left. After we checked the lights and I was heading back into the bus the car alarm went off in the tow vehicle! Later we figured out that it was the panic button on the other set of keys in TJ’s pocket that must have set it off. Fortunately that was our only excitement at the gas station. We got back on the road and I texted Jay a little bit about where we’re going to meet tomorrow.

I’m having fun. Tj tells me I’m playing Sigourney Weaver’s part in Galaxy Quest. I’m repeating everything Google says to him about how to get where we’re going today. And I just stuck my whole body out of the bus to adjust the side mirror that just got whacked by a tree. Good Times!

For supper I made a dish similar to a Pioneer Woman dish: I cooked a pound of turkey, added some black beans and other stuff, and added in some tortillas that I had laid on a burner to toast a little bit. I just ripped those up and put them in. It was good, but I think next time I need to over season the meat so that when we add lettuce and Greek yogurt etc you’ll still get that good flavor. I think I’m not going to buy anymore Cotija cheese either, because it doesn’t have a lot of flavor itself. Cheddar would have been better than that. And next time I’ll use 8 tortillas to a pound of ground beef.

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