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Archive for the ‘Daily Life’ Category

jack smiles for pirate party invitations

"Aging" our pirate birthday party invitations!

Jack and Liam had to make their birthday party list. They gave me a yes, no and maybe as I called out each of their classmates names.

Jack: wanted to invite EVERYONE. Especially the girls.

Liam: “no. no. no. no. no.” and then just when I was about to get worried that he’d have no one to invite, he said yes to a few names. Very selective of who was invited. Picked all boys.

I’m telling you, the list of differences I started in their “memories book” is soon becoming an entire chapter of it’s own. These boys are total opposites!

I then went through Jack’s list with him again to pare it down (I can’t have 45 kids at this party, sorry!) and when I got to the last name, I saw him stall a bit before saying, “okay, yes”.

After seeing him be more selective the second time around (knowing that he could only have 20 friends there), I asked him what made him say yes for this little boy. I knew something was going on in that little mind of his.

“Well…he’s always a bit sad and I think he’ll be really happy at my birthday party so he should come.”

And then came the momma tears.

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No matter how many years you have to prepare for this day, it still catches you by surprise.

Surf over to my Domestica blog to read more.

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I thought it would be nice to give Tim the Swiss country code sticker in his stocking. The other day we drove past a store called “The Swiss Shop” so I gave them a call to confirm they had one before making the drive.  A man with an Indian accent answered the phone and I couldn’t quite make out the name of the store when he rattled it off. Nevertheless, I continued on…

“Hi there. I just found you on the internet but I wanted to know what kind of products you have before I drive out to you.”

“Uh…what are you looking for?”

“Well, I’m actually looking for the CH sticker,” I replied.

<awkward pause>

“What sticker?” he asked, totally puzzled by my request.

“Um…you know, the Swiss country code sticker…that says CH…”

<more awkward pause>

“Oh…no, we don’t have that…we just have the Portugal one.”

“Oh.  So…is this The Swiss Shop?” I asked, perplexed.

“Yep, it is,” he replied.

“Okay…so…um…what kind of products do you sell?” I asked.

“Mainly touristy things…and many of our customers are Portugese so we have lots of Portugese items, too.”

“Sorry…so, you said that this is The Swiss Shop?” I am SO confused by this point.

“Uh…yah,” the man’s voice gave off a not-so-subtle hint of annoyance.

“Okay, well, thanks anyway…” ….click….the man had hung up before my words were even out of my mouth.

And then I burst out laughing.

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Sleepy Time

This is how I found Jack sleeping last night! At least this time he wasn’t inside his pillowcase! Yes, inside. The kid is special.

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Room Makeover

With two oversea moves in the span of a year, to say we don’t have a lot of possessions is an understatement!  And although it’s been a great lesson in finding true contentment, Tim and I both realized that the boys’ room was in some serious need of help. Toys were in random bins all over the room, their clothes were in suitcases, and the only light in the space was a table lamp on the floor.  Although five-year-olds rarely complain about a messy room, it was clear to us that the boys weren’t making good use of their bedroom because the spastic mess was overwhelming.

Enter, IKEA.

If you read this blog, you probably know I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA. I want to love it, but I usually just hate it. And yet, in the case of a little boys’ room, IKEA seemed like just the solution.

BEFORE

AFTER

Each boy has their own desk while the center toy bin pulls out.

This storage container on wheels fits perfectly under their bed and houses all their Lego!

A magnetic board holds the boys' post cards from places they've visited around the world. Uncle Ben's impromptu metalworking reminds them that they need to be nice to each other...forever!

While I was at it, I figured the boys would be good guinea pigs for trying my hand at refinishing furniture.

$20 DRESSER -- BEFORE

AFTER

Including the secondhand dresser I bought for $20 and painted for $10, the entire makeover cost $500.  So, in typical “selfless mom” fashion, the boys’ room is now the only one in the house that’s fully furnished!  Of course, if you read my other blog, you know that I clearly chose to buy one of my favorite toys last week instead of any needed furniture…

Priorities, people! Priorities!

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Now that we’ve been here a few weeks, I’m going to just come out and say it.

Americans are mean.

And then, just when I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of being honked at for no good reason, yelled at for no good reason, and cussed at for no good reason, I go to my local Whole Foods, Starbucks or any other consumer-driven market place and experience the best customer service I’ve ever known…ever.

So my only conclusion is that Americans are using up all their friendly mojo at work and saving their haggard snobbishness for their day’s off.

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Operation Drivers License has been one gong show after another.

It started with my written exam. After standing in line (out the door) to get my number, I proceeded to wait…and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Four hours later, my number was called.

I’m not even being facetious. I’m serious.  Thank you California budget cuts.

Look on the bright side, while waiting four hours in line, I got to study the Driver's Handbook for valuable information like this.

And to top it off, I was definitely on the wrong side of the tracks in San Jose. I mean, every time Tim drove up in the minivan, he was half-expecting to get shot and I actually caught one (of the many) tattooed thugs taking a video of me with his camera phone. Like I was that much of an oddity?

Yes, yes I was.

At one point, I realized that I was the only white woman in a room of 200 people. Again, I am not exaggerating to make a point. I counted.

If dude can take a video of me, I can post photos of him on my blog.

When my number was finally called, I continued to wait another 20 minutes while the nice gentleman entered my info into the DMV system not once, not twice, but three times. Then he asked me to proceed to window 17 to get my picture taken, at which point, I waited for another hour, this time standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the other suckers in line.

Have I mentioned how much I love the California DMV?

After getting my (horrid) mugshot taken, I was then directed to window 27. Oh, right…because I haven’t even taken my written exam yet. And of course, another line.

By this point, it was 4pm, and I had lost five hours of my life that I would never see again. I overheard a staff member saying that you could come back the next morning and take the written before the line-ups get going so I booked it outta there feeling like I didn’t really accomplish all that much. Well, other than having some 19-year-old black kid with a big cursive script tattoo up his arm saying “Self-Made” try to hit on me. If you can really call that an accomplishment.

The next morning, we pulled up at 8:00 am, ready to hit window 27 before the already-growing line-up of people would be processed and want to write their tests, too.  Sure enough, the line-up was down the street…but the doors were closed.   I had to laugh when I walked up and saw the chicken-scratch writing on the posted Office Hours where someone had changed Wednesday’s opening time from 8 to 9 am. Yes, it was Wednesday.

Of course it was Wednesday.

And back we went to exploring the sketchy streets of East San Jose…trying not to make eye contact.

The good news is, I returned and was able to take the test quickly.  All four people testing ahead of me were here for their second or third re-test which gave me some last-minute jitters but thankfully, I passed with 29/30 and I was outta there with a learner’s permit.

Finally.

I came busting out of the office, line-ups still down the street and found Tim and the twins hanging out at the minivan out front.

I couldn’t resist.

Waving my learner’s permit in the air, I shouted, “Daddy, can I drive now?!” in a high-pitched squeeling voice with a hint of 17-year-old-girl. Tim didn’t laugh but I did.

Sadly, as I got in and inspected my new paperwork, I read that I was only permitted to drive with a California-licensed driver. Crap. Oh well, no practicing for me. It’s only been a year since I drove a vehicle…no big deal, right?

Somewhere in there we also realized that we couldn’t use the rental car for the road test so I called all the driving schools and finally found one that had an instructor available to take me to my road test the following day.  And now I know why they had someone available. For starters, he couldn’t answer any of my questions and kept responding with, “hmmm…well, that’s a good question…”. Secondly, we had just left my street when he pulled into a Taco Bell to stop and get a taco.

And he gets paid by the hour.

But really, by this point in the game, I’m not going to lose it over the guy’s poor business ethics. Just get me to my road test! This time, I made the appointment with the Los Gatos DMV…for you Victoria folks, think Oak Bay, and then some.  Needless to say, there was no gang activity or security patrols. I was in and out in five minutes and queued up for my road test. Everything was going great.

And then the examiner came out to review my paperwork and suddenly stopped to ask if I had my Social Security Number.

Uh, no.

She then proceeded to inform me that unless I have a SSN or have otherwise been in the country for 60-90 days (so my Visa info can get caught up in the system), I’m not passable.

I think I almost started to cry.

I calmly explained to her that I have two kids to drive around and although I’m all for public transit, the San Jose system isn’t really feasible for us. I need a license!  She kindly reassured me that it was no problem, I could just use my out-of-country license.

Well, I could…but it’s expired. That’s why I’m in this mess.

So she whipped out her clipboard, scribbled some notes and dissapeared into the office. A few seconds later she returned and handed me a 90-day temporary license.

Uh? Seriously?

My eighty-dollar-taxi-driver, otherwise known as my “instructor”, came over and was a bit baffled to hear I was done and we could go.

I mean, he hadn’t even finished his taco yet.

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