Saturday, February 19, 2011


Everyone is in bed... Jon hit the sack a 8:30, and I'm hoping he's not getting sick.

It's raining hard again tonight and I'm wearing two sweaters because it's so cold inside. I'm loving the quiet, and even though I have been feeling tired lately I think I could stay up for hours listening to the rain. It sounds like the windows are open and when the wind blows I can feel a breeze. As long as I don't change positions here on the sofa, I'm able to keep warm.

Last week we spent a couple days in the central valley farming community. We enjoyed staying in our friends' amazing log cabin for a night. We ate Swedish pancakes, walked the streets of a quaint little town, visited friends, and drove through orchards and groves. The kids played outside and got plenty dirty. Olivia and I actually finished up those scarves before leaving. It was a nice change of scenery.

One afternoon, we ducked into a little alley that had some good lighting for pictures. Andrew was a little distracted so he didn't make it into very many shots...

The kids thought it was great that we were in an alley. The older two especially have revived their game of "Alley Kids" and I think it's the cutest thing! They play for hours, choosing what to wear based on what looks the most "alley-ish" (which is to say old-fashion and poor).

Usually the game takes place in the afternoon at the top of the stairs and in the bedrooms, but I have yet to really discover how to play. I want to make a point of entering this world soon. I think parents can get to know their kids in a different way by playing with them. I don't take it for granted that they are still telling me about their games and fantasies, and I never want them to think I am uninterested or that I would consider them silly. If they begin to think those things now, I shouldn't be surprised if they choose to cut me off in the not-so-distant future.

 Michael is especially fun to take pictures of... I don't know, but he like the camera.

Yesterday I found myself in another place full of alleys, but these were the scary, dangerous looking alleys that I shouldn't have been anywhere near. I had decided on taking the kids to a museum down town. I was forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone and fear of driving in certain places. I entered the address in my GPS and figured I wasn't too country-girl to get there on my own. I've actually driven there once before, so I wasn't overly concerned.

Well, I ended up miles away from where I wanted to be. When the GPS lady said, "You have arrived at your destination," I was in a alley leading to the back of a grocery store in a dumpy part of town. "Fine," I thought, "I'll enter the address in my phone and use the navigation system to get back on track." The kids were listening to an audiobook, and didn't really care that we were a little turned around. I guess they're used to it.

So I got back on the freeway heading toward those daunting skyscrapers once again. The freeway runs parallel to another freeway and it looked like there are about 25 lanes of traffic. I kept glancing down to my phone, trying to figure out what exit to take. It kept turning off making it difficult to figure out where in world I was and where I should be going. After I practically rear ended someone, I turned off the audiobook so that the kids could help me look for signs and stopping traffic. The map on my phone made it look like there should be one freeway, not two side-by-side. Of course I needed to be on the other one to transfer onto the freeway running perpendicular. So I took the next exit hoping to drive down a surface street till I found an onramp to the freeway I needed to be on.

Well it wasn't so easy. Now I was in the armpit of the city. No, make that that crotch.

There was lots of construction, making it difficult to get to where I thought I should go. I kept driving this way and that until I was thoroughly lost. I couldn't even find a place to pull over and figure out the map. We drove and drove, going in circles mostly. Everything was surrounded by iron gates, and there was absolutely no street parking available.

And there were alleys with people who didn't look like they would be able to help direct me. I must have checked to make sure our doors were locked a dozen times.

Ironically, when we were stopped at a red light, a man next to me rolled down his window to ask me for directions.

At this point the kids were trying to be sympathetic by saying, "It's OK if we just go home, Mom."

I was so frustrated I could have screamed at the whole city. But defeat wasn't an option.

I parked illegally and together we memorized the street names and directions we needed to take. Someone honked at me, forcing me to get going once more.

We finally did find the museum. It took us two hours from the time we left home, but at least we made it. We ate our picnic lunch (while I stopped fuming!) and spent the rest of the afternoon having a grand time.

Going home was easy, even in the rain and long weekend traffic. The only alley I want to be around anytime soon is a fantasy alley with my alley kids.


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