Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

I love weekends. I especially love three-day weekends. In my typical fashion, I tried to squeeze as many things as humanly possible in to the time spanning from Saturday morning, until Monday night. We accomplished a lot. Here are some of the highlights...

Saturday, we spent the better part of our day at Coronado Beach, recently rated the second best beach in the United States. We parked the van directly across from the beach, in front of a little house that was up for sale. When I say "little" I mean it looked like a one-story beach bungaloo. I couldn't imagine that this house, construction circa 1960, was more than 1,800 square feet. Imagine our shock and horror surprise when we saw that the sticker price for this "little" house was $8,000,000.00 (that's EIGHT MILLION dollars). I don't know what confused me more. The fact that they were asking $8.0 million dollars for a house which looked to be less than 2,000 square feet ... or the fact that they actually had fliers hanging from the Century 21 sign in the front yard. Hmmm...?

It took us a few seconds and some quick number crunching to recognize that moving to Coronado Island on two part-time salaries is out of the question. It took us a few more seconds to recognize that we don't need no stinkin' bungaloo, directly across the street from the second best beach in all of the United States. Now, if it was the BEST beach in all of America - THAT would be a different story.

After several hours of eating and playing with sand, taking turns pushing strollers across the beach (and over each other), covering Dad's piggy toes, and climbing all over the lifeguard tower ... we enjoyed dinner at a cozy Mexican restaurant. We're getting extremely proficient at eating out.

Dining at a restaurant with toddlers isn't too bad, so long as you keep these pointers in mind:

1) Have a means for keeping the kids somewhat occupied until the food arrives;

2) Only dine at those establishments where you can expect fast service;

3) Don't worry too much about leaving a mess.

I'm a neatnik by nature ... so that last one is hard for me. I find myself tidying up before we leave, stacking the highchairs, wiping down the table and picking up food and half eaten crayons off the ground.

I hate the thought of someone having to cleanup after us, so we've started leaving an even more generous tip then we normally would, to help offset some of the guilt.

Sunday found us hosting a barbeque. Our good friend, Virginia, came down for the afternoon and our kids loved having someone new in the house. As bedtime came calling - I scooped the babies up, brushed their teeth, got them in their jammies, and put them in their cribs.

This rapid exit from what they considered to be the best party of their entire lives didn't go over too well. Infact, it didn't go over ... at all. After 10, 20, 30 minutes of hysterical screaming ... I conceded that they weren't going to go to sleep.

Take II.

Babies came out of their cribs. They were allowed to run all through the house. While eating triple fudge brownies.

Now THAT'S more like it.

After the kids excitedly covered Virginia in chocolate kisses for 30 minutes, they were returned to their cribs, where they cried for less than two minutes, and promptly fell asleep.

Each day I am learning more and more that the name of this parenting *game* is flexibility.

Rigidity when it comes to bedtime is no good. No good at all.

ESPECIALLY when you've got company over.

Monday, we loaded everyone up in the van and headed off to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Once I was old enough to understand the significance of the Memorial Day holiday, I've always tried to do something to reflect on the sacrifices that so many people have made for our country. You know ... something other than using the day off from work as an opportunity to get "No payments, no interest for three years on a new refrigerator!" Or car. Or whatever.

This year, we spent the morning of Memorial Day paying tribute to the brave soldiers that have fought and died for America.

As I was walking among the headstones and lives I've never known, I felt overcome with sadness. One marker really stuck with me.

A young man, aged 21, died on May 19, 2003 during "Operation Iraqi Freedom". There were still flowers on his grave, probably placed there by family on the 3-year anniversary of his death. I wondered what compelled this young man to join the service, maybe 9-11? What was he doing in his life before he was sent in to a war zone? Did he leave behind siblings, a girl friend ... a dog?

I can barely remember the person I was when I was 21-years old. I've changed and experienced so much since that time. I'm absolutely certain that those who loved this person are still raw from the loss of his passing.

Here I was, an absolute stranger, mourning his death and the life that he will never have ... the marriage, children, and grandchildren he will never know.

The headstones were lined up, almost as far as the eye could see, thousands of them ... for people that have served the United States. And this is just one of a hundred or more military cemeteries...

So many of the markers, were for young people, in the prime of their lives, that died while in service to this country. As I stood there, with tears in my eyes, I couldn't help but think of the families that these soldiers left behind. Particularly the mothers. Every single ounce of my body aches just thinking of what these people have lost.

It made me feel good to be at this location, on this day, honoring the sacrifices that so many have made. In addition to that - this Memorial Day was one of the most beautiful days that I can remember in recent months.

Fort Rosecrans is situated on the end of Point Loma, a peninsula in San Diego. The cemetery is on a bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on one side, the Bay and City on the other side. It probably sounds odd ... but there was something revitalizing in seeing three little children running around the headstones on this picture perfect day. I saw firsthand, that our kids brought a lot of smiles to people's faces that were sitting in the cemetery, reflecting over their lost loved ones. There's something about a pack of one year olds ... running around with "Snack Traps" full of goldfish ... that just makes you grin.

On the way home, we decided that our eating out skills are always up for some fine tuning. So, we stopped by Joe's Crab Shack. (Worthy to note ... I am convinced that we do a better job at home cooking up meals - - than anything we can get eating out).

The name of this restaurant says it all. Point #2 in our list above for "successfully eating out with toddlers" was seriously lacking at Joe's.

Carolyn Grace wasted no time letting us, and everyone else in the restaurant know that she was extremely unhappy with the service.

Considering there were only two other tables occupied, I can't help but wonder if the goal of our food server was to see just how long she could hold off on bringing out the cornbread before our kids erupted in to a heap of despair.

I tried to make light of the situation by joking that crabs weren't ONLY on the menu. I don't think our waitress appreciated my humor ... so I didn't feel the same pang of guilt walking away at the end of our meal, from what appeared to be a macaroni and cheese explosion beneath the table. (I love this picure of the kids sitting around the table. Doesn't William look positively thrilled to be eating out ... again?!)

Wrapping up our weekend, we gave William his 8th haircut - which wound up being a 2-person, 45-minute hack job.

Provided he had his lovey blankie available to chew on, William did fine managing his fear of the electric clippers (which were really Charlie's battery operated goatee trimmer. Did I mention that the battery died 1/2 the way through the haircut ... forcing us to complete the rest of the "procedure" using dull kitchen scissors? Oh, I forgot to mention that??)

If we are going to cut our kids hair, we really need to get some training on how it is suppose to be done. Honestly, our son has the most beautiful golden locks of hair, and here we are chopping it off, all the while asking,

"Does that look even?? Oh no!! How 'bout now?? OK, OK ... I give up. YOU fix it!!"

Thankfully - it always grows back fast. And, he's too young to know any better.

PS: After struggling for much of the day trying to upload photos ... I finally made the switch to Mozilla FireFox and PRESTO! I am a picture uploading fiend. I'm pretty illiterate when it comes to computer stuff ... so for those who don't know - Mozilla replaces Internet Explorer ... and as far as I can tell ... it works great.


  1. Great photos of the kids and sounds like you had a wonderfull Memorial Day---Virginia will be thrilled to see her photo in print. She looks like she is having a ball.

  2. sarah scarborough6/1/06, 9:46 AM

    oh the haircut.
    poor duncan has a few "spots" on his head that no comb over can fix.

  3. Hi Jen,

    This is totally unrelated to your Memorial Day Weekend post.. I was looking for some cute baby tshirts and found these and thought of your crew.. *grin*

    if they weren't $20/each, i'd have gotten you three of them!

    -Jen (aka fourjmh)