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July 11, 2003
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Elephants, Corn Dogs, and Science

We did quite a lot today. I got up when Jet did, and let John sleep in this morning. I think he really needed it. There was an entire duffel bag laundry to do, so while Jet played with Marina I did laundry. Janice was up, no problem, as she had to go into work. Marina had her last day of school today, so she was pretty happy.

Janice made scones with cranberries and raisins. Marina had fun putting pink sprinkles on top. They came out tender and very tasty, especially with the local, fresh fruit and some strawberry jam. Jet refused to eat anything but cereal. He really enjoys the Life cereal they have here. I was glad that he ate something, even though he ignored the great scones.

After breakfast, and after getting cleaned up, the ladies left for work and the rest of us went out to buy some groceries. The August 2003 issue of Bon Appetit had a lot of great recipes for the summer. Very few of them involved much cooking in the kitchen. There were two recipes that caught my eye. One was of a simple, marinated, sauteed chicken that I thought would work well on the grill. The neat part about the recipe was a topping of cherry tomatoes, slivered olives, and feta cheese. That sounded very tasty. There was also a summer tomato salad with blue cheese, celery, red onions, scallions, and more of those cherry tomatoes. It sounded really good with really fresh tomatoes, as they were the meat of the salad, so to speak.

Jet, on the way to the grocery store, nearly fell asleep. He had found a giant, stuffed elephant, and refused to let go of it. So it had lain on top of him all the way to the store. It was larger than he was, so he merely peered over one edge of the elephant as he rode. I guess it was a pretty good blanket as well, and he nearly fell asleep three times on the way to the store. Once there, he refused to walk or ride in the cart with the elephant. He demanded that John pick them up together. So John did. All through the store, as are rounded corners, I saw people doing double takes on the elephant and the tiny boy behind it. It was pretty funny.

We decided on the local grocery store, rather than the omnipresent Safeway, just see what was available. It was a nice little store, with pretty much everything I expected to find in the local store, lots of organic produce, plenty of local items, and very friendly service. There was a small espresso bar that also served as a smoothie bar, and it had a Mexican chocolate mochas. I had to try one of those, and the spicy, smooth sweetness was really good. The lady asked if we wanted to pay there or at the front, and we decided to pay at the regular cash register. After the guy at the register saw both Jet and the elephant and our cart full of groceries, he waved the espresso drinks through, refusing to let us pay for them. That was pretty nice.

After all the sleepiness on the way out, Jet was wide-awake going back to the house. He still hugged the elephant fiercely, but didn't nod off with the drive. I finally nursed him when we got back to the house, and he went to sleep very easily. We put him on our bed, and he slept the good hour before suddenly waking up with a yell. I'm not quite sure what woke him up, but he was definitely up and cranky. I managed to prep the marinade for the chicken, and John defrosted the chicken enough for me to add the marinade to the bag and put it in the fridge before Jet got up. He nursed for a while, but was mildly unsociable when Marina and Jan got back home.

Jan made a special lunch treat for both Jet and Marina: corn dogs. She had a large number of corn dogs in the freezer from Costco, the Foster Farms chicken dogs that Jet really likes with lots of mustard. John slathered mustard onto Jet's corn dog, and Jet refused to touch it for quite some time. Janice was great and made tuna melts for John and I, and when I was halfway through my sandwich Jet finally realized that we were not going to give him a Popsicle or candy. That's when he reached out, grabbed the hotdog, and started chewing away at it. Yay for a good lunch.

After lunch we all packed up to go to the local science museum. It's a hands-on museum for kids, and both Marina and Jet really enjoyed it, along with the adults. There was a small area set-aside for a Ball Factory that had lots of tubes, chutes, pulleys, buckets, and stairs for little kids no higher than 4 ft. tall. There were buckets of tennis balls in there too. Jet had a blast taking balls and feeding them into chutes and tubes to see where they went and what happened to them. There was one tube that went overhead, which was fed by a wheel system that had little cups on the wheel. Jet could feed balls into the cups one by one, turn the wheel and see them go into the tube over his head. The tube was transparent, so he could see the balls traveling overhead as they headed down to a bucket on the lowest floor.

There were all kinds of things to play with. There was an entire room just for bubbles. Giant bubbles, a wall of bubbles, buckets of bubble stuff everywhere, and even a platform that one could stand on and pull it ring soaked in bubble fluid up around oneself. Jet tried that several times, but the ring with a little lighter than he was, but not by much so it took a lot of his strength to get it up.

There was a photosensitive wall with a flash that went off every 30 seconds. John tried to see how high he could jump when the flash went off. Jet emulated him quite happily. There were some pretty interesting shadows we managed to make.

There was one really cool strobe exhibit that included one display that had two streams of water spraying into a sponge. When the strobe went on, one could see that the pump that was spraying the water out had a period to it. There were actual blobs on each stream.

It was also a short demonstration on electricity. The long talking parts bored Jet, but he got really interested when the lightning came out. The guy had a Van de Graf generator and an inverter for stepping voltage up to 200,000,000 volts! With pico amperage. It made for some very impressive lightning. There was also one of those no-battery flashlights. The LED lights light up very well to be seen, but I'm not too sure how well they would light an area. I've been thinking about that flashlight for quite some time before seeing it here, as I have seen it in some mail-order catalogs, but it's very tempting to buy it here. It was, however, nearly $50, which is a little too rich for toy for me.

All in all, it was a very good experience for everyone.

Marina had her nap on returning to the house. Jet really acted like he needed another nap, but after nursing I tried to put him on our bed and he woke up yelling. So he went to play with John and Jan while I went and took my nap. I need one very badly. I found out, however, that it was already passed 4:30, and I needed to get up around 5:30 in order to get dinner put together on time. I set my alarm, and promptly ignored it when it went off. I only slept an additional 15 minutes, and then managed to drag myself up and out to make dinner.

I really enjoyed the time in the kitchen. Janice has some really nice tools. It was fun to prep everything, and then grill the chicken outside. It was actually good for the salad to marinate for a little while to allow the flavors to blend. By the time the chicken was done everything was ready. In the meantime, a father with one girl, Jenna, and one boy, Oliver, had come over to visit. Marina suddenly ignored Jet completely to play with her friend. Oliver wasn't quite able to keep up with Jet, and Jet wasn't as interested in him. But they had to leave to find dinner fairly quickly, with a promise that they would visit later.

Everyone enjoyed dinner. I was glad. It turned out really nicely.

Jet even ate a piece of grilled bread. Jet and Marina were chasing each other around with magic wands. Jet was even saying "Magic wand!" And waving his want around. He and Marina would chant, "No magic! No magic!" And all the time they would be running around, chasing each other, and whacking each other with the wands when they caught each other. When we managed to get Jet to stop hitting hard, it was a lot of fun on all sides.

When Oliver and Jenna came back, with their mother this time, Jet was determined to follow Marina everywhere. The problem was when the two larger girls climbed on Marina's bed and started jumping on it and off it. Jet didn't quite have the coordination to do either gracefully. He was also in some danger of falling off the bed or landing very badly. I managed to get the wand away from him while he was jumping, but there was no way I was going to get him to stop jumping completely. It was a little scary. Eventually, however, the girls got bored and ran off to do something else. Jet was able to follow, quite happily.

When the other kids had to go, and Marina had to go to sleep, Jet found some of Marina's LeapPad toys and proceeded to play with them quite happily. He knew exactly what to do with the pen, and had various characters in the book singing, playing, and telling him a story quite easily. He really enjoyed it, so I think it needs to go on some of his wish lists. It was good, however, at actually try them out for a while before thinking about buying them. Marina was mildly unhappy that Jet got to stay up later than she did. Jet did, however, go to sleep much more easily than he did the other two nights. He was actually quite happy to see his bed, and have us nurse on it. Something familiar, I guess.

I wonder if the constant travel was unsettling him. Simply having a place to stay for more than two nights in a row seemed to make him quite happy.

While at dinner, we saw plane fly directly overhead. It turned out to be Paul, coming home from Seattle and his business trip. So he was able to get home early. That was very cool. We all got to talk after the kids were asleep. Jan, John, and I hadn't planned anything for the days he had been away, and he was trying to get us all to plan something for tomorrow. I don't think he succeeded other than the skeleton plan of going to the park in the morning and maybe some water activity in the afternoon.

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