Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thank you, Patty and Jim!

Check out that UCLA t-shirt! If we don't set some goals for this kid soon...I dunno.

Anyway, look what Patty and Jim sent Iain from New York? I think they understand his deepest, most profound desires.

He's already modified it, of course. What did you expect? It needed phaser blasters.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Max the Minnow

Iain: Refusnik.

Iain never likes to join in. This is the kid who utterly refused to sing or dance at the Holiday Musical Party (or whatever it was called. I was focused on trying to make him do something other than sit on me.). This is the kid who had to be coaxed - all year - to participate in practically anything.

So imagine our shock when he volunteered to help act out Max the Minnow at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Each kid got a stuffed animal like one of the animals in the story. Iain, chosen last, got the smallest fish - Max.

Now, I think what the lady had in mind was that as she read the story the kids would wiggle their fish or something. No. Neither Iain nor any other kid acted the story out at all. They just stood there listening. And Iain seemed kind of confused by the fact that whenever she mentioned Max she'd pat him on the head. You could practically see him thinking, "My name's Iain, Lady."

But so what? He volunteered. He raised his hand and invited her to call on him. And when she did he went right up there, clambered onto the stage, and joined the fun. Learning! Growing! Whee!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Laguna Beach: Thursday

On Thursday, we took Iain to the beach. He's been to the Atlantic (though he doesn't remember - he was weensy) but never to the Pacific.

Unfortunately, Mommy did a stupid thing. When he said "I don't want breakfast" I thought "ok." Stoooopid. He had a glass of milk and at 1145 we took off from Irvine to Laguna Beach with Dr. H. It's not a long drive, and it's pretty, but by that time Iain was Cranky Grouchy McIckyPants.

The monologue went like this, "I hate the beach. The beach's stupid. I'm going to shoot the beach. I hate you. I don't want a Mommy. I hate California. I want to go to Mr. Joel's house. I don't want any lunch. I don't want to drive. I hate the beach. I hate sunshine, pancakes, ice cream, being warm, being cold, smiling, this car..." you can fill in the blanks. To get a real sense of the experience you'll need to keep that monologue going for about 45 minutes with periodic fits of mild crying.

It was awesome!

But when we finally arrived, parked next to a gelato shop, and walked up to a cafe that serves breakfast, things began to even out. Iain ordered a blueberry waffle, scrambled eggs, and bacon. In case you're wondering about volume - the waffle was about 10 inches across and covered with about a cup of berries. I'd estimate 3 eggs and 5 pieces of bacon on the other plate. Dr. H. ate a piece, I ate a piece, Iain refused the eggs ("No ketchup???"). Otherwise, all that went into the young man's gullet.

Instant rainbows.

After lunch we bought gelato (duh) and took it to the beach. [Note: do not take gelato to the beach. It's not that cold. It melts. Even a half block walk plus crossing the street will result in gelato all over you. Of course, there's nothing like ice cream between your toes to make sand stick to suit yourself.]

Iain was enthusiastic, at last. He dug a  little, got "his toes wet" (which actually meant letting the surf soak him to the waist), checked out a tidal pool (did not care) and exclaimed happily over everything.

He napped in the car on the drive home, too.

Now, if I can just get Dr. H. some therapy all of us will be fine.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Old Home Day at UCLA

That's right. Chocolate ice cream. Of course, he threw it all up later. I hate traffic. We need a new label, though. "Shots of Iain with Chocolate."

So we took Iain to UCLA. We needed an outing to the city because we had a dinner date in Silverlake. I was unaware of the ongoing, expanded, apocalyptic construction on the 405. Yes, I know. I'm a fool. But I never, ever used the 405 as a student so how was I to know that's where time goes to die?

Anyway, it took us 2 hours to reach UCLA.* In the heat, the traffic is just maddening. Finally, we hopped off at Wilshire and reached campus. Iain needed placating, so we bought him a chocolate ice cream at the coffee shop in the Student Center.

Then it was time to shop. My current UCLA gear (T-shirts, I mean) is in tatters. With one exception, everything has stains, holes, and fabric thin enough to read the OED.

Iain, meanwhile, has no UCLA gear. Zip. The solution: two shirts for him, three for me and a nice sweatshirt, too. For me. While I weighed the relative merits of block letters versus cursive and color versus grey, Iain and The Dad identified all the Lego merchandise in the bookstore. We went home with new clothes plus some mini-figs and a Lego/Star Wars book.

But then.

We needed to get to Silverlake. I'm never exactly sure where Silverlake is. It was newly hot when we lived in LA and since I'm the original Little Old Lady from Pasadena, I never went there. Turns out it's useful to know where something is in order to drive there. Oops.**

An hour and 15 minutes later, Iain was throwing up all his chocolate ice cream into a lovely little Legoland tote bag. Good job, kid! No mess. At all. And he's ready for college, too. Boot and rally. Ten minutes after being sick he walked into a restaurant (washed his hands, rinsed his mouth) and ordered scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes. What a champ.

The drive home seemed so fast, of course.

That was Wednesday. Since then, we've learned that Iain really isn't a long-trip with traffic and enclosed spaces and bumps kind of kid. He had another episode of motion sickness on the plane today. I almost did, too. Five minutes of wild swooping and bumping will do that.

*For Angelenos: We took the 5 to the 605 to the 105 to the 405 to Wilshire. I think we probably would have been better off on the 5 to the 10, but who can tell? If traffic is really a form of karmic balancing, we'd have been in it either way.
** For Angelenos: We took Sunset to Beverly Glen to Ventura to Woodman to the 105 to the 134 toward the 5. When that was a total parking lot, we jumped off at the cemetery and took the road through the Zoo past the Autry Center to the restaurant. The GPS was telling us to get on the damn 5 until we drove right up to the restaurant.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Legoland: Paradise on Earth

Iain with Darth Vader.

Iain with R2D2.

Iain observing the battle on the ice planet, and (below) the toppling of an AT-AT.

We spent a substantial amount of time in the Star Wars section of Legoland. Just saying.

So we visited Legoland.

  • Iain rode a roller-coaster for the first time (he loved it). 
  • Iain took the boat tour of animals, famous towns and monuments made of Legos. 
  • Iain rode a pretend helicopter. 
  • Iain built a racing vehicle and raced it against other kids on a course where they time your car. He had some design issues. 
  • Iain rode a pirate ship, shot water at bystanders, and enduring a thorough soaking from total strangers.
  • Iain played in a three-story castle with rope "escalators" and tunnel slides 25 feet long.
  • Iain ate three bites of a chicken finger and pronounced "what's inside" to be "pretty good." 
  • Iain selected his long-promised Lego toy (the escape pod from Episode IV, with mini-figs of R2D2, C3PO, and a couple of storm troopers). 
  • Iain built three mini-figs of his own design (One had a clown face and blond curls. One had a green face and a red pony-tail. The last had a regular face and an Afro.). 
A success, I think. Mom and Dad were a bit underwhelmed, but we're kind of...old for Legoland. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012




Oh, wait. If the New York Times spells it "Disunon," I guess Legoland's off the hook. Spelling. Pshah. Who cares, anyway?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Gelato


  • "Ice Age"
  • Swimming (Iain displayed zero swimming skills despite lessons at the JCC, lessons with Julia, and 3 days of camp with swimming each day. But we had fun.)
  • Lunch
  • "Cars*
  • Cedar Grove Park (He met a girl. Her name? Olivia! So, if you're keeping track, that's Big Olivia his babysitter, Little Olivia in his class, Medium Olivia his camp counselor, and now Very Little Olivia the girl at the park.)
  • Whole Foods. See above. After we picked out dinner (Italian sausage, green salad, pickled cucumbers, garlic bread (made by me, not the pre-made stuff. Ew.)) he stood transfixed at the gelato display. So we got him a little cup of Mexican Chocolate gelato. It contains red pepper, so it's quite spicy. He LOVED it. Of course, Whole Foods offers no moist toilettes, so checkout was, um...sticky. Also, I'm here to report that grapefruit sorbet is only ok. 
  • Swimming (This time Iain showed me that he can kick, dunk his head, blow bubbles, and splash. So he learned plenty in his many swim lessons. I think he was nervous in the morning.)
  • "Harry Potter"
  • Swimming with Dad
We're having a pretty good trip. Iain's having a great trip. He's sleeping in a King-sized waterbed, which he claims is "the best for kids!"

*Not a success. I thought he'd love it because Mrs. C's nephew, Brando, loved it. But no. Iain hated the whole thing. He really didn't understand the story line - "why did the people stop coming?" he wanted to know. Nothing I said about interstates and small towns made any sense to him. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday: Nostalgia

Above: January 2010. Iain at the park in Tustin Ranch. He lovedlovedloved this train and he was very serious about its operation.

And here he is, today. Same train, rather taller Iain. He liked it nearly as much today but...

This park is composed of four interconnecting mini play areas. Each one steps up in terms of height, complexity, and the expectation of physical strength. Today, Iain opted mostly for the second play area. It's shaped like a ship and he decided it was the "Mannequin Falcon" which you may know as the Millenium Falcon.

At one point, he ran up to the only other boy his age and said, "You be Boba Fett, I'm C3PO." This kid looked at him like, "Dude, what?" and proceeded to continue his normal play.

Later, he was too cool to play with other kids. See above.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thank You, Cheesecake Factory.

 Let's start with: I'm not a fan of the Cheesecake Factory.  Maybe it was the 3 hour wait a few years ago in DC. Maybe it was watching a table of four eat enough food for 10 people one day ten years ago. Maybe it's just plain snobbery.


Iain is in a very picky phase. Yesterday, at lunch, he ate almost nothing. And he was a pill. I was dreading today. But it turns out that if you make a kid hike about 2.5 miles in the morning, then give him a little time to chill out, then take him out on a sunny, warm day...the Cheesecake Factory is the perfect place to go.

He ordered a grilled-cheese sandwich from the kids' menu. They subbed mozzarella for cheddar. I ordered a salad and it came with a little pile of onion rings on top.

If you've been keeping track, Iain eats onion rings. He eats grilled cheese but only with mozzarella. In other words: a win. He ate the sandwich. He ate the rings. He was happy and nice and relatively well-behaved.

So I rewarded him with his choice of cheesecake. He picked chocolate mousse. And below you can see what he did with it. We helped him with the whipped cream. Because he hates whipped cream (!).

Happy kid. Very chocolately. Also, yes you have correctly read this post. He ate a large piece of buttered bread, a grilled cheese sandwich, onion rings, and a large piece of cheesecake. Yes, he had breakfast. He's over next to the desk eating strawberries right now. 

"Hi! I'm a fairly cute glutton!" 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pasadena Children's Museum

In case of earthquake, you'll need some stuff. Here, Iain checks out the safety goggles the Museum recommends.

Iain and Megan made bugs together. This part of the Museum is supposed to be a Bug Cafe. They have plastic plates with foods bugs eat. Examples? A bowl of "blood" for mosquitos and a plate of dung for beetles. Seriously. It's not what you'd call appetizing.

Last time we visited, Iain sat in the front of the Land Rover and played with the steering wheel.

Look how little he was!

This time, he liked the back, where you can use paintbrushes to play archaeologist.

But he was most excited about the water-activated drum set. Basically, you trigger the water stream and it hits the drums to make "music." The handles turn enough to allow a periodic soaking of other kids. 

It was the highlight of the visit. He loved it. He also loved climbing 25 feet into the air on the various layered climbing toys (leaves made into a huge tree, blue circles of glass that were supposed to approximate raindrops...etc.).

Last time Megan and I agreed that Iain was a little too young for Kidspace. This time, he was about perfect. Everything excited him. It was great. Lunch? Not so much. But the museum was a great success.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father and Son at Tech

It's graduation weekend and The Dad must make several tiny speeches. Iain came along to provide moral support.

Here you can see them visiting one of the ponds. It used to be populated by crawdads (I promised Iain crawfish), but now it's Las Vegas for turtles. No, really. We walked up and about 20 turtles swam over to say hi. There are koi, too, but they stay relatively deep. The turtles have no such hesitancy - they know you might have something to eat and by God they want it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Posing with Stuff at the Zoo

The zoo is a zoo, man! A zoo! As in: thousands of people coming to see the new polar bear exhibit. And me, too, of course. But on a Sunday morning at 9am so as to avoid the crowds. Check me out on the polar bear sculpture. It's metal. Because if you're going to invite kids to crawl on something in the sun, you want it to be metal.

And here's me riding a seal. This one's stone. I'm practicing dressage. Note my perfection of form.

And here I am in a Bald Eagle nest. Or something. I was all, "where's the polar bears, Daaad?"

Do I need to mention my UK sweatshirt? It was a gift. It honors both my birthday and the 8 TIME NATIONAL CHAMPIONS. So, like, double duty.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Musical Innovation

Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
I like you.
So I really mean it.

Apparently these are the lyrics, as sung by Iain.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Garden News

So I got tired of weeds. Also, I needed drip irrigation so that things would grow steadily. I think last year's Carrot Debacle was because of a dry period after germination. Poor little stunted carrots.

So we asked Joi Aoki (of Aoki Landscaping) to come out and solve the problem. She laid down landscape fabric, gravel, and drip irrigation for the blackberries, peonies, and raised beds.

I love it, and I think my neighbor really loves it. No more untidy weeds. I love that they reused our stepping stones (salvaged from my parents' yard).

More photos to come - my lettuce has totally taken over the blue bed since the irrigation went in. The tomotoes are growing, the strawberries bloom, etc. And my carrots are six inches tall. I think this might be a good year for carrots!

Green Lantern

Iain, today:

"Green Lantern's the best superhero."
"Why's that?"
"Well...if, like, a kid forgets his glasses, or it's dark."
"What would Green Lantern do?"
"You know, if a kid needs glasses or can't see because it's dark."
"Yeah, but what's Green Lantern got to do with that?"
"He has a lantern."

Well, duh.