Saturday, May 29

To Grandma Ella with love

My Grandma Ella turned 96 on the 21st- she and Zach share a birthday. When I introduced them in 1999, her lips stamped his forehead with "Grandma approved," and she decided she would share him with me, since she was just a "widdow widow." Back then, she was still living in her condo, still doing hair in her salon/laundry room.

That condo was close to the studio where I worked before I was married, and I would go there for lunch sometimes. Some days she would be in the salon with a customer, and I would make myself a sandwich and listen to the little shaky voices of the ladies getting their hair done, and my grandma's strong alto voice responding. For decades, everyone has agreed she seemed about ten years younger than she really was. She chalked it up to oatmeal every morning, working, and keeping busy. I chalked it up to her signature hairstyle that started out with just one little wisp of white in the front which over the years gradually overtook her hairline until there was just one thick wisp of dark brown. That, and the occasional swearword and straightfaced joke about getting sloshed at keggers.

A while after my Grandpa died, she confided that she wouldn't mind if he came to get her any time. I told her that wasn't acceptable- I wanted her around another ten years so my future children could meet her. She just rolled her eyes and told me not to wish another ten years on her.

Ten years later happened anyway. During our trip to Utah last month, we went to visit her a couple of times at the rest home she moved to. After already having come close to losing her in the few weeks previous, we knew this would be goodbye. I was really glad my girls would have one more chance to see her, and maybe even remember her. She didn't exactly resemble the woman I will remember in the years to come, but I really hope my girls keep a memory of being with her.
We sat in her room and talked with her as she passed a bowl of DumDum suckers. The kids took turns hugging her, hearing her tell them how much she loves them. Fascinated, Anya pointed and said "Your hair is white and brown." I smiled- maybe our memories won't be that different after all.

In Memory of Ella Klara Marie Larsen Gale
May 21, 1914- May 29, 2010

When I pulled up these pictures, Anya came over and said, "Grandma Ella! I like Grandma Ella! I get suckers! She have white and brown hair."

Saturday, May 22

Silly billies

Anya browsing our videos trying to convince me it's okay to watch a movie: "Mom! I like TV's!"
"You mean movies?"
Pulls out the Emporer's New Groove: "I mean Groovies!"

Mia trying to stop Bree from taking her stuffed dog: "Bree it's Tuesday. This dog only bites on Tuesday, so you better leave him alone."

Anya started refusing squash a couple months ago. I keep putting it in front of her though. Last time I set it on her tray, she yelled the usual, "I don't like squash!" And stupid me, I gave the same response I always give. "Yes, you do."
Usually a little Yes/No conversation happens for a minute. But this time, she said, "I do?"
"Oh. I like squash!" She ate it all.

Mia: "So- Mom, how'd you sleep last night?"

Bree: "Where's Darling? I want Darling." She named a rag doll Darling- a word we don't use at our house, and so has us completely mystified. I'm actually still not convinced she hasn't named it Darleene. It sounds like "Darween," when she says it.

Anya is sitting on our new bounce horse in a Cinderella dress, and I'm reading on the couch next to her. We've been quiet for a while, and then she blurts, "I'm a genius!" Another word we don't use... and the way she pronounces it.. I hope it wasn't mean of me to laugh my head off.

Friday, May 21

Another surprise trip!!

Remember the little incident with the exploding tomatoes? Well, it turned out to be just the reason Soleil Moon Frye's Little Seed decided to send Zach and I on a vacation to Vegas.

Even though we found out about the trip back in August of 09, Zach's school schedule didn't allow for a break until just now. Which, actually, made for the most awesome birthdays ever. When I wrote my story to Little Seed last year, I didn't know that by vacation time, I'd also be starting my third trimester of pregnancy with a messed up back, and in dire need of a rest!

When we got to the baggage claim in the Las Vegas airport, we met our limo driver! I've only crouched in the front seat of one of those to photograph wedding couples on their way to receptions, so I was pretty pumped for my first ride as a passenger.

Aww. My first limo ride. It was very... limousine-y. :)

We were passed from him to our bell-hop, who took us to Diamond registration and then to our room. We started walking down the hall, expecting him to turn any second and show us the usual accomodations: a couple of queen sized beds, maybe a king, in a room with a cozy table in the corner and a bathroom off to the side. When we got to the double doors at the end of the hall, I did a double take. We had no idea what to expect, but it certainly wasn't this!

Our room was a Panorama suite with Roger Clemens memorabilia. It was AMAZING! We got a tour of the place that kept going...

and going...
For you geeks like me who need floorplans to truly appreciate a place you're trying to picture:

And last but NOT least... drumroll please...

Our view.

The Bellagio fountain and the Eiffel tower. We could even hear the music during the fountain shows!
It was easy to get comfortable there- and hard to leave. :)

Our first night there we ran in and out of resorts on the strip, trying to find the places we went on our honeymoon. We added a new favorite spot- the aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Wow. We got there just before they stopped selling tickets for the night.

All our food was paid for, and we had so much fun trying new stuff at almost every restaraunt in the resort.

We were also treated to two trips to the Mandara Spa. I went for mother-to-be massages two days in a row, (at 30 weeks- it was perfect timing for a massage!!) while Zach lounged in the spa and used the exercise equipment.
It was a wonderful trip right smack in the middle of mega stress time- and we'll never be able to thank Little Seed and Planet Hollywood enough!!

Okay- so that was the blog I wrote for the Little Seed people to publish on their site. (I even created a fake blog becasue I didn't want a ton of people linking to this blog. I'm not scared enough to go private- but I don't want people being directed to my family blog on purpose.) Not pictured: me in my freaking awesome electric wheelchair! I couldn't get around the hotel, let alone walk the mile or so it was to Mandalay Bay. They didn't have wheelchairs for people with long legs, and since my knees were up to my chest in the chairs they had, we got the electric one for the same price- woot! It was awesome- I love those things.

Saturday, May 8

Visit to Utah

The much anticipated trip to Grandmas' houses is already come and gone. The girls got thoroughly spoiled thanks to two and a half birthday parties!

One at Grandma Van's

with their own personal birthday cakes!

Grandpa set up a tent to sleep in! They figured out the zipper pretty quickly, darnit. ;D

One at Grandma Gale's

My mom's beanbag toss game, and rocket were both a huge hit.

Zach can make anything. Funky hats, giraffs, ducks, a monkey climbing a palm tree, doves in a heart... someone requested a parrot and he figured it out.
We had two sets of friends over, so the twins each got a turn being sung to and blowing out candles. Handy!

There were little friends running around all day- it was so fun!

My friend Tani and her four boys

Cousin Tiffany and her boys
On our way home Mia said she wished she could live at Grandma's house. Gee, I wonder why?!