The Chocolate Lady

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More fun than a Caribbean cruise!

My Honey and I both love to travel. No offense to the "North Pole Express" folks, but it takes something more than a 3 mile train plod, out to the cattle fields, to satiate our vacation hunger.

With finances being pinched, we arent in a position to go anywhere...oh, we did venture to the snow last year, and there was that Make-A-Wish extravaganza to Florida a few years back.....but somehow both left us wanting on the R&R scale.

Sometimes, we talk about trips, planning them down to the detail, knowing that we arent actually going to go....but it makes us feel good to pretend we *might* go. Just for kicks, I like to go on the internet and look at the bargain prices for last minute cruises, and it makes it seem like Im almost out on the water, when I read about the itinerary and amenities on board.

The other day, I ran into a neighbor at the market. She was sharing her latest woes re: her grown children, and how they are depleting her retirement kitty. She said, "My sister has a boat and a vacation home, Ive got 3 kids!"

Earlier today, My Honey had just a tinge of envy in his voice, as he remarked that a co-worker, a childless co-worker, had an ocean view home on Newport Coast, and another residence in the mountains.

"But he doesnt have kids!" I reminded him.

"Yes, I know!" My Honey responded.

"We could be galavanting off to the South of France each Spring (or whenever it's best to go), and scuba diving in Tahiti each Fall, with ski trips to Idaho in the Winter...we could do all of that, but we have our dear children instead..." I said, as I sort of weighed things in my mind.

"Yes, I know!" said My Honey.

"And we wouldnt trade them for anything, would we? They are much more fun than a dozen vacations, arent they?" I wondered.....trying to convince myself.

"Yes" My Honey insisted, "Especially when you are wiping poop up off the floor."

By the way, we are still totally open to trying out some resort locations, and blogging about it. Yep, we are the flexible kind of folks that are fully up to "bartering" if anyone (like Beaches with Elmo) is interested.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Real Thing

After our trip to The North Pole, I had a lot of work ahead of me, if I was going to salvage any of Pooper's belief in Santa.

I realize many moms would have just let it go, the kid is 8 now, and pretty bright, so maybe it's just his time to let Santa go....

But Pooper's belief had been so strong prior to our trip, I just knew there was still some hope.

I gave up trying to rationalize why there were cows, and no snow, at the North Pole, or how we travelled through 3 countries and onto a new continent....sort of. What I did do, was take the kids to "google earth" to see if we could figure out exactly where we had went.

I pulled up the "satellite" version (as in the version that has very little snow on the ground) of North America, and asked Pooper and Beauty, to use the mouse to show me where they think we went. We all agreed, that we had gone past Canada, at least to the Northwest Territories (obviously!) After that, it became unclear.....Beauty does seem to remember passing some water, although Pooper wasnt sure. I asserted, that we had probably gone to the "border" of the North Pole area, and not to the actual "pole" itself.

Clearly, from the map, there was not snow along our route, as that seems to be reserved for the axis or "pole", but there is plenty of dirt and earthy terrain as you go from Washington, through Canada, and into the Northwest Territories, to the border of the North Pole. Pooper could clearly see this, and agreed, that we had probably just went to the "entrance"...because logically, that is where the train would stop.

AND, just like in our local mountains, the streets and stores have been cleared of snow, the train station had most likely been cleared of any snow, for safety reasons, and besides, the heat of the engine would have melted any snow, of course.

Pooper spent some time moving the mouse along the map, trying to decide which path we might have taken...and it didnt really long as he was reconciling, both mentally, visually, tactily, that we had indeed gone through Canada up to the Northern part of the world, I knew things would be ok.

I had asked Pooper, "How will you know if this guy wasnt a fraud?"

"If he gives me everything on my list" he said, matter of factly.

Usually, my kids are allowed to pick one item, but this year, Pooper had picked two. Prior to our trip, I had talked with him about it, and let him know that it wasnt right to ask for so much, and there was just no way he was going to get two big things. Not to mention, the things were; 1. a drum set, which I just wouldnt allow, due to noise and neighbors, and 2. a Nintendo DS, which was not only expensive, but violated our household rule of no electronic games (not because we are against electronic games, per se, but the free games on the computer seem just fine to me, I dont want to get sucked into an entire "system" that you need to keep feeding.) Pooper sobbed, letting me know that all his friends had the Nintendo, and they talked about it at school.....I held my ground, but it was ultimately out of my hands, as Santa didnt always listen to my advice.

Besides, Pooper reminded me, that Santa doesnt have to pay money, he makes everything for free....

On our trip to the North Pole, when Pooper was chatting with the big guy, he gave him his list, asking for the drums and Nintendo. Santa said he could have them both! Although, he said, "Im out of red drums (which Pooper had wanted) but I can get you some blue ones."

So, what a surprise Christmas morning, when the first thing Pooper saw, was blue drums....and a nintendo was under the tree too.

Additionally, there was a book, unwrapped, aside the fire place, with a note....It was the Autobiographpy of Santa Claus, the book that he had recommended to Pooper, in order to understand Santa's magic. He had left it, reminding Pooper that this was the book with the answers.

Pooper hasnt read the book, I dont think it's necessary anymore, thank goodness.

Santa is real, and Pooper knows it. Thanks to Santa's magic, and very generous grandparents!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The day Santa died........

Well, first of all, he didnt really die, just his spirit seems to have evaporated in the mind of Pooper. And, maybe not even that, maybe it's just a temporary lapse......let me explain.

Pooper has been 100% on-board with Santa. It's Pooper that reminds us that Santa doesnt have to pay for the toys, so there is no limit to what we can ask for.....or about how he can magically do things....

Beauty loves Santa, but she doesnt seem as riveted by his magic, but Pooper, he is! or....was?

Several weeks ago, My Honey and I made plans to take the kids on the Polar Express. Actually, not the Grand Canyon one....but one up in Fillmore, called the, "North Pole Express." Fillmore is about 3 hours away, just north of Los Angeles. My Honey knew a colleague that had gone with her kids and she said it was fabulous. We had wanted to go for so long to the Polar Express, but it is several hours away, so this Fillmore option seemed perfect.

The kids had no idea about this surprise, and as Christmas has drawn closer, they have been concerned that we hadnt made our annual trak to the mall to chat with the old guy. They believe that if you dont tell him what you want, that you wont get everything....(this is Pooper's belief)...but that you will only get part of what you want, because you didnt make the effort to come and see Santa.

So, Pooper has been worried that he wont get his desired list....really worried. Beauty, well, she doesnt even have a list, she finally decided she wants some, "fashion", but that's it.

Yesterday, as we took our car in to get the window fixed, Pooper wondered if we would be able to squeeze in a trip to the mall to see Santa, I (always turning our outtings into ADVENTURES) told him I had called the mall, and Santa had already packed up and was headed back to the North Pole. This, naturally, upset my kids, and as soon as I saw their devastation, I quickly told them, that WE WERE GOING TO TRACK HIM DOWN! Daddy was leaving work early, and if we could get the window fixed on the car, we would drive up to an old train that would take us to see Santa.

*** Note*** I was unsure what the "story" would be on this train...would they make the claim that we were actually at the North Pole? I wasnt willing to make such promises to my kids, so I simply said, "I dont know how, but they are going to try to go as far as they can to find Santa, ON HIS WAY to the North Pole."

Pooper, naturally had lots of questions, and he was very excited at the prospect of breaking a world record! You see, he seemed to know that the youngest person to go to the Arctic was 4 years old, and this would allow Little One the new honor. He also began calculating how long it would actually take to get to the Arctic, the path to get there (he noted crossing bodies of water!) and many times throughout the day, he became filled with excitement as he would, "get to go to a new continent!"

This all spelled big trouble to me, and I reminded him, that I wasnt sure if we were going to the North Pole, or just finding Santa on his way....

In any case, I TRUSTED, that this company that had developed this fantasy had done what was necessary to make it special, and REAL. You know???

So, we left our house around 2pm....but I purposely kept saying that it was "lunch time", hoping to create an optical illusion re: the time we would travel. We stopped for "dinner" at 4pm up near Valencia, "WAY passed LA"...and then, "drove longer until it was dark" (another hour) to get to the station in Fillmore. I was proud of myself, because, with the help of a setting sun, I had made the children believe we had been driving "all day, for many hours" and Pooper now believed we had gone passed San Francisco. Yes, I had done MY PART to help authenticate this journey.

We arrived in Fillmore, a sleepy old town, which in the dark, appeared to be a migrant town for workers of the avocado farms and vineyards. There was a Santa's Village set up, with a small carousel ....funny thing about the carousel.

I was watching while My Honey rode around with the girls, and I noticed a rather large boy on a horse...well, he wasnt actually, ON the horse, as he purposely slid himself from side to side, laughing (and bumping into the "first time dad" holding his daughter on the horse next door.) Apparently, it was his grandparents standing next to me, and they gave commentary as the ride progressed:

Grandma: "JEREMY! sit still, you are kicking that man!"

Grandpa: he cant sit still, he doesnt fit on that seat, so he is cutting up to cope.

Grandma: "JEREMY! STOP THAT! Sit still!"

This went on, and I kid you not, as Jeremy passed each time, I could hear the creaking of the old wooden planks that secured his horse, they clearly seemed to be at their limit!

Anyhoo....eventually (7:20pm) we heard the whistle and boarded the old, antique train.

The company clearly asserted that we would indeed be heading all the way up to the North Pole. My kids were nearly bursting with excitement as we settled into our seats...Pooper with his face pressed against the window.

As our journey began, "Elves" came and passed out cookies, milk, ....everyone was filled with joy, except for my son, who was staring in disbelief out the window.

The train was going, approximately, 6.5 miles per hour, and Pooper turned to me and said, "We're never going to get there at this speed!"...I asked an elf if the train would start going faster soon, and she said, "No, the tracks are wet, and we need to be careful of 'slippage'"....

ok, first, what the heck is "slippage"???? The metrolink takes people up and down the state, every day, rain or shine, with no slippage. Secondly, I knew darn well, that if we never went any faster, Pooper's investment in Santa would have some serious "slippage"....

I said to the lady, in a quiet voice, "Two plus two makes four, and this one will never believe we made it to the North Pole at this rate."....and she answered loudly, "It's Santa Magic! We WILL get to the North Pole, with Santa Magic!"

Whatever...I remained hopeful, and the train plugged along......and from the window, we could see the cars, going much faster than us, on the freeway that paralleled the tracks. (really!)

At one point, Pooper turned to me and said, "I can ride my bike faster than this train!!"

He seemed genuinely upset.

During our ride, elves lead the group is boisterous rounds of Christmas carols, and read stories....and while everyone joined in, Pooper sat with his angry face pressed up to the window.

When the conductor announced that we were heading into the North POle.....everyone focused out the window, and cheered as they saw Santa waving at them. Santa was outside, in front of his stiped pole, and his little shack titled, "The North Pole."

While others cheered and hollered with glee, Pooper burst out, "That's it??!! There's not even snow!!" Clearly the Christmas songs were not enough to distract him from the farm animals, dirt, trees, and parallel roads that were clearly visible from the window.

My Honey and I went into overdrive with reasons why he had just spotted a cow, "Well, Im sure there are some families, somewhere, that are asking Santa for a cow to help with their farming, so he needs to have cows here to give to people!"

Pooper: A cow would die at the North Pole.

We told him all about Santa Magic, reminded him of the "hours and hours of all day journeying to get to this point"....I even had him believing we had gone through parts of Canada, and more..... I also threw in my motherly, "dont be so ungrateful! Many starving children would be so thankful to come on this train to see Santa!"

But his face was down, and his heart was heavy, and I didnt know if we could do anything to change it!

DANG IT!! Id rather have not come at all, then to waste all this time, just to kill his dream. If we had stayed home, he would be a full-on believer, now, thanks to POOR PLANNING ON THE PART OF THE "North Pole Express" company.....He was a serious doubter. I was kind of mad, and felt ripped off too.....I quickly multiplied the cost of the ticket, times the 500+ people that came each night (they mentioned such)....and wondered, "Could they not invest in a backdrop of snow???? or at least make some efforts to appear to be in the North Pole???"

Anyhoo... finally, we told Pooper, "I dont know these mysteries, you'll have to ask Santa." ...and he did.

After the train ride, we waited in the 30 degree winds to talk to Santa, and Pooper asked him how we got to the North Pole so quickly, when the train was driving slow...and Santa told him that there was an entire book about the magic of Santa, and told Pooper if he read it, it would answer his questions.

Pooper left, still unsure, (and now wanting that book)....he said the test will be, if he gets the items written on the list he gave to Santa.

I happen to have some insider information, and the prospect is hopeful, that the gifts under the tree will help to restore some of Santa's magic...Ill keep you posted!

Monday, December 22, 2008

How I spend my time

It's been way too long since I have ranted on this blog. In the chance that there may be one reader that is still checking back to find out how the kids and I are doing...I thought I would update.

Id love to tell you all about the delicious life I lead as a Dove Chocolatier, so here goes;

Today, I spent the morning at the glass shop, for the 2nd time. Glass, as in, my passenger car window is broken, and since it's unsafe to ride around in the rain with the wind flapping against the non-see-through plastic trash bag that is afixed to my car with duct tape, and I need the glass shop to repair the window.

How might a glamour-puss, such as myself, come to find herself in need of a new passenger window? Let me answer that for you.

Over a week ago, I was at a Live Nativity, held at the park in my neighborhood. My Honey and I organize it each year, which includes renting farm animals. After the Nativity, the animal handler and her son got the donkey, goats and sheep back into the truck, and I went to my van to retrieve my checkbook, so to pay them.

Pay attention to this part: I went to my van, (obviously had my car key, as I did indeed open the van.) I then went to the animal truck, where I placed my checkbook on the passenger seat as I filled out the amount. I then tried to get back into my van, but could not find the key. Of course, the animal truck had already taken off, bound back to San Diego (an hour drive), and I didnt have their cell number.

There was an off chance, that they key was actually inside MY van. An off chance. The night sky did not allow me enough light to see in clearly, but since I didnt have a lot of choices besides putting my track skills into action and chasing down the truck with animals, I called the towing company to get them to open my van (in hopes of finding my key.)

My Honey and my 3 freezing children were waiting patiently. Ok, they werent patient at all. My Honey was upset that I had not been more responsible, and my children were hitting each other and crying and not listening to either parent. And then we waited for the tow truck guy.

He immediately tried to connect with my kids, and told my 8 year old, "My name is the same as one of your Sesame Street friends!"

Pooper: Oscar? Elmo?

Me: Bert? Ernie?

BINGO...his name was Ernie, and he was here to save the day, or else really botch it up.

After 45 minutes of failed attempts to open the van door, and just minutes shy of my children frying my last nerve, he had some success and the car alarm sounded, indicating he had opened the door.

With the alarm blaring, I searched, and searched, and there was no key! Really!

Ernie drove My Honey back to our house, and then My Honey drove back to get us in his car.

Long story short, we eventually got the key (and I do mean LONG STORY).....but for the purposes of this post, and my visit to the glass shop, you dont need to know more about the key.

What you may want to know, is that once the key was found, and I was driving in the van, it came to happen, that I rolled down the passenger side window, only to find that it would not roll back up. Instead it made some grinding noises. My mind went back to a few nights prior, to when The Muppet had thrashed around inside my passenger door with his long metal bar. Great!

So, to paraphrase: window broken, storm was coming, My Honey taped up the van with plastic bags and I looked like a real winner driving around with a Hefty duct taped to my vehicle. AND, throw in the wind, and a bag that flapped itself out of position, and you get the idea.

Now....I went to the glass shop the 1st time, and he jimmy rigged the window back into place, until the part arrived. Good!

However, last night, with a rain storm approaching, the glass slipped back down into the window, making it necessary for me to return today, to get the whole thing fixed. The part they ordered, the window motor, was in, and would just take an hour to fix.

The kids were on their best behavior, as we have an important trip to take tonight, to the Polar Express....another long story, but if they are going to see Santa, we are going to drive, and take a train, and try to see him on his last stop before Christmas. So, they are amped, anticipation is high, and it all makes for a dramatic approach to Chriatmas. But we cant go without the window on the car, so that's what we did this morning, with plans to leave on our trip to see Santa at around 1pm.

And, since it wouldnt be as exciting to just sit and wait at the glass shop, I spent some time on the phone getting the insurance to send the paperwork, so that the repair costs would be covered without making me broke.

While Im on the phone with the insurance adjuster, Little One announces with a hurried tone, "Ive gotta go poop!"

With my cell phone pressed up to my ear, I scan the room for a bathroom, and see NONE. I finally get a worker who points me in the direction across the warehouse, and Beauty, Little One and myself all scoot across to the restroom. Once inside, I realize the light and fan are on the same wall switch, and I cant quite hear the adjuster on the phone when Im in the bathroom.

So, I step outside, and somehow, in the 2 minutes I was out of the bathroom, Little One manages to get poop all over herself and the toilet, not to mention, I need a new Pull Up.

Im still on the phone with the insurance gal, who is trying to get the paperwork together to send to the glass guy. She is asking me questions, and I try to answer, as I balance the cell phone against my shoulder, while wiping poop off my child.

I am ever mindful, that the paper towels being used to wipe the poop, will most likely clog the toilet, which will only add to the hilarity of the situation.

As Im trying to get the poop under control, I really cant even hear the lady on the phone, because of the loud fan, however, if I turn off the fan, and the light, I cant really see the poop well enough to clean. And, oh, did I mention Little One was crying?

Another long story shortened, we cleaned the poop up, we got the insurance issue handled, and drove away in our van with the new window motor.

Now, we will scurry up to the North Pole, making a last ditch effort to see Santa before Christmas.....

Can you see, why I havent had a lot of time to post? or, has the last reader left, and Im writing this to myself? If you write a post on blogspot, and nobody reads it, is it really there?

Merry Christmas!