Carlsbad Staycation

Our room at the Grand Pacific Palisades had a view of the ocean.

It was beautiful.

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Unfortunately, the flower fields below were cleared for the season.

Instead of colorful blooms, all we saw was a lot of dirt and this big pile of manure.  Heh heh.

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Our room was downwind, but it wasn’t that bad.

The view went a long way toward making up for the “aroma.”

The little boy didn’t seem to mind.

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I don’t think the room is of great importance to him anyway.

He’s all about the water features and this place surpassed all of our expectations in that department!

The play area next to the family pool was great.

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The pool itself was walk-in warm, really clean, and fairly large.

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Because of its location right next to the water play area, I didn’t have to get out of the pool to keep an eye on my son.

The hotel also has a separate adults-only pool with a few lanes marked off for lap swimmers.

As a plus-sized mom with a splashy child, I appreciated being surrounded by families, and not by young fit singles or childless lovebirds.

Both pool areas have hot tubs too.

Despite some negative comments on Yelp, I gambled on this place and I was pleasantly surprised.

It doesn’t hurt that the service is excellent and that the restaurant on the property is a Karl Strauss Brewery.  🙂

I would definitely book a stay there again.

After husband left us to go to work in the morning, the boy and I checked out and headed down the street to the Museum of Making Music.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this place, but I am so glad we went!

The museum is very small and only takes a few minutes to walk through, but it houses a remarkable display of unique and old musical instruments.

It is clear that the exhibits are lovingly cared for and designed with curious kids in mind.

There are buttons to push and music to hear and each room includes at least one instrument meant for visitors to play.

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My son enjoyed this immensely.

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The last room of the museum is entirely hands-on.

Even I couldn’t resist playing Twinkle Twinkle on one of the harps.

The boy loved this drum thing.

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The admission to the museum is only $8 for adults, $5 for older kids, and $0 for those under five.

I felt like it was easily worth that and if I’d remembered to do it before we left, I think I would have tossed a few more ones into the donation jar.

Overall, this was a very pleasant little getaway.

What have you been up to?

♥♥

Spring Break Phone Pix Dump

We actually did a lot over the two-week break.

The child had a bad case of the hives, got really sick, and also lost another tooth, but he rallied for the best parts of his vacation.
He had no trouble inhaling a basketful of candy on Easter morning.

🙂

The rest of our days went something like this…

lunch with Grandma
Inflatable World
Pump It Up
several different parks
a night at the downtown Marriott
egg hunts
and
I guess I’m too tired to remember anything else.
Enjoy the photos!

Oh, I almost forgot!
Husband got a new job.
(Insert great relief here.)
He started yesterday.
So far, so good!

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Insert bad family photo here (complete with chinless child and bug-eyed mommy):

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I love this next one of my husband.  He’s more than a little freaked out by heights, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying our 11th floor view of the bay and the bridge.

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The pools were beautiful.  The smaller one was walk-in warm in the morning.

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Next on the agenda?
Back to school this morning and then to the kid’s salon for a long overdue haircut!

What did you do?

♥♥

Holiday Brain Dump

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Bad Mommy

I waited too long to get my son an advent calendar from Trader Joe’s, so now they’re sold out and I feel like a bad mom.

Well okay, I felt like a bad mom before I went to Trader Joe’s.

Today, I made my son cry.  And I made my mother cry.

Just for good measure, I asked my husband if there was anything shitty I could say to him too.  Wisely, he offered no suggestions.  😐

The little boy’s upset was related to homework.  Or rather, my upset was related to the homework (and to the accompanying note of parental reprimand from the teacher.)  The little boy’s upset was related to homework and to my reaction.  Big surprise.  Might I just say, AGAIN, that I am baffled by the papers that come home with my son?

Getting him interested in looking at them is a daily nightmare for the two of us.  He is tired when he steps off the school bus.  He wants a snack and then something mindless to amuse himself for the rest of the afternoon.  Homework is painful for my child and painful for me.  We both hate it.

But enough about that.  It’s an old, worn-out problem with no solution.  I work daily not to care what the teacher or anyone else thinks of how we handle it.  Or don’t handle it.

Moving on.

Bad Daughter

I made my mother cry because I reminded her that we weren’t the best of housemates when I returned from college feeling all independent and snappy two decades ago.

I had moved back into the house with her and my dad and she and I argued sometimes.  Who wouldn’t have?  Headstrong twenty-something suddenly sleeping in her old twin bed?  I was unpleasant.

Ultimately, mom and I came to a mutual understanding that I needed to find myself a real job and somewhere else to live.  It was an excellent idea, and I am the better for having done just that, but now mom is worried.  She hadn’t remembered the low points of that summer until I burst her rosy impression over a cheap plate of pancakes at Denny’s this morning.  Sorry, Mom!  😦

So, two for two.  My son cried.  My mom cried.

I cried too, but that came after I had filled my cart at Trader Joe’s and then discovered the item I had come for, the advent calendar, couldn’t be had.  I bought every seasonal chocolate product the store carries.

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And yes, I waited until I was in the car to open the teary flood gates.

Okay, so changing the subject completely…

Husband Update

Husband is mending more each day.  He might even go back to work tomorrow – driving in his own car!  Yippee!  He is still uncomfortable at night and if you watch him for a few minutes you will notice how much he favors his right side, but he’s getting there.  The ribs, the collar bone…they are repairing themselves.

The Mission Inn Festival of Lights

We drove up to Riverside on Thursday to spend one quick night at The Mission Inn.  We sort of owed it to the boy (and ourselves) to do something spontaneous and fun to make up for the Palm Desert accident weekend.  The Mission Inn was the perfect answer.

The Festival of Lights is amazing.  There are animated characters, lighted horse carriage rides, giant nutcrackers, icicle lights, garlands, candles and falling snow too.  There are real reindeer and vendors with gingerbread, roasted nuts and miniature doughnuts available every night during the holidays.  There are Christmas carolers and a roving Santa in the restaurants.

The sleeping rooms are luxurious and full of charm.  The spa products in the bath are rich and fragrant and the windows actually open.  The beds are very comfortable and loaded with extra pillows.  The linens are crispy white and super fresh.  There are big fluffy bathrobes in the closet and the package we got came with a divinely citrus-scented aromatherapy candle.

The hotel itself is a work of art.  There is a rotunda with a spiral staircase.  There are gorgeous plazas and flowered balconies.  There are stained glass windows, catacombs and an amazing clock.  The hotel pool is walk-in warm and landscaped to feel private, even though it is surrounded by sleeping rooms.  Everything is beautiful.  Everything is humbling.  And we didn’t even see it all.  We saw a lot, but we missed far more.  Next time, I think we’ll take a guided tour just for the heck of it.

My favorite thing was the twenty-foot, ornately carved church pew sitting in the hall outside our room.  I told my husband that I would gladly tear up the inside of our house and completely rebuild our decor to accommodate that pew, if only they would let me have it.  Sigh.

One of the best things about the trip for me was the little gray striped cat who appeared at the pool when we went for a swim.  My own gray baby passed less than a week before.  It was comforting to see a similar little face so clearly interested in my activities.  When my son splashed near, this cat was just as reserved and removed as my Poupon, but when my son wandered away, the cat came a little closer and talked a little more insistently to me.  I wish I’d gone back down to visit with the cat once we were dry and dressed.  Maybe next time.

Before I change the subject yet again, I have to mention Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s, the store across the way from our room.  I went in once with my husband and son and immediately I knew that I’d have to return again without them.  When I did, I bought a painted metal bird and a weird little nativity set.

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Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s is jam-packed with the most interesting little trinkets, wrapping paper, bath soaps, whimsical tins, garden treasures, dishes, tiny paintings, knick-knacks and Christmas ornaments ever!  The hours aren’t set in stone, but it seemed to me there was someone behind the register most of the day.  It will take you some time to see everything, so be prepared to browse for a while!

Happening Now

The little boy has liberated some empty magazine files from my bedroom and is constructing makeshift body armor with scotch tape.

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The husband is playing computer games and I am dreaming of pajamas, ice cream and a better camera. 😦

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The last remaining cat has finished eating dinner alone in the kitchen.

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And tomorrow our routine starts all over again.

What are you up to?

P.S.  That Santa plaque at the top of the post is something I picked up on clearance in Bazaar Del Mundo a few years ago.  It reminds me to tell you how emotional it was for me when Santa stopped by our dinner table at the Mission Inn Restaurant the other night.  It was the first time our ten-year-old had ever met him.  Because of the many challenges our son faces just getting through a “normal” day, we have never bothered with shopping mall Santas and their incredible lines.  We’ve never been to any event where Santa was a main attraction and even the occasional Santa in front of a store or at an amusement park has always been too removed or surrounded by other children for us to have a meaningful experience.  This time, Santa came to us and asked our son what he wanted for Christmas.  Our sweet little boy told Santa what we already knew…he just wants pencils.  🙂

♥♥

Reading People

The little boy has a crush on a girl in his summer school class.

He walked up behind her this morning and tried a sly one-armed hug.  It sort of worked.  She didn’t hug back, but she looked at him sweetly and didn’t seem to mind his very forward gesture.  He didn’t notice her response.

A few days ago, my son’s aide told me that he is the class clown.  He loves funny sounds and music and goofy toys and he likes to laugh, so I guess the other kids watch him sometimes.

He is always recognized by his schoolmates when we’re out and about.  Even the kids who are older and have never been in a class with him will point him out to their moms and say “hi” as we walk by in the grocery store or at the mall.

My kid is kind of a rock star.

At the park, the other children are always fascinated when he doesn’t respond or even seem to understand that they are talking to him.  He has the best sand toy collection, so they are very motivated to figure him out.  They ask me a ton of questions.

My son takes in a lot of his surroundings, maybe even more than most kids, but he doesn’t quite know how to read facial expressions or body language.  He typically just stares when another kid talks to him.

People amuse, entertain, and befuddle my son.  He likes their oddness and their quirky mannerisms, but he doesn’t always know what to make of their efforts to communicate.  Or my efforts to communicate, for that matter.

Today, we went to the store after his swim lesson.  I bought him a big bag of Ruffles, his current favorite snack.  As we drove home, I extended my open hand toward him in the backseat.  Without a word from either of us, he placed a chip in my hand.  I said “thank you” and reached back twice more before we turned onto our street.  He gave me a new chip each time.

I really didn’t consider the miracle of that until I pulled into the garage.  He could have put anything, or nothing, in my hand.  He could have kicked my hand, like he has done before.  Or he could have become agitated and yelled “no Mama’s hand go backwards!”  He has done that before too.  😦

Instead, he did what any ordinary person would do.  He read my body language.  He understood my gesture and complied with my silent request.  Ordinary?  Extraordinary.

The chip experience reminds me of this post from Into The Woods, Living Deliberately.

It’s the little things, you know?

Happy Wednesday!

P.S.  We’re spending a lot of time at the popper fountains this summer.  What are you up to?

♥♥

Rose Bowl Flea Market Purchases

I buy ribbon and rickrack everywhere I go.  This pile of generous bundles cost only $10 total.  I love the blue with the red and white.  They’re kind of fitting for the season, don’t you think?  😀

I also buy Little Golden Books.  I got these three and the colorful little book below for a total of $3.00.

The Little Small Red Hen book was wrapped in a plastic bag when I saw it, so I knew it was probably badly damaged inside.  I was right.  There are pages missing and others torn, but I love the colorful cover and there are a few additional color plates inside that charm me anyway.  And really, the title is so sweet.

I’m not sure I know what to say about these next items.  I collect buttons and dominoes, but the buttons aren’t the greatest specimens and those two dominoes are all I got – not a set.  Don’t know what I was thinking.  Guess I don’t care since it only took $2.00 from me.

Arthur Burdett Frost’s Br’er Rabbit has been in my dreams for months.  I saw these twin reproduction art plaques of him at the market in January and have been wanting them ever since.  Now, they’re mine!  I’m glad they were near the exit.  Once I had these heavy boys to carry, I turned into a complaining nightmare.  “Oh, my aching back!”

I bought this bag to put them in and it made a big difference!

This bag is HUGE and made of super lightweight fabric.  I wish I had bought more than one.  😐

I also bought our initials.  Each ten-inch letter is cut from thin metal, then painted.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put them yet, but I am sure I will buy another letter or two every time I go to the market.  The guy who makes them just tosses them all on the ground and people walk on them and kick them aside to find the colors and letters they want.  All that rough handling gives the letters a good scruffy salvage look to them.  He makes smaller and larger versions and there are also numbers and some funky three-dimensional flowers too.

I can’t wait to add more to my collection.  I feel an art installation brewing, maybe for the wall to the right of my stained glass window??  You know, this wall:

Can’t you just picture it with a sea of letters swirling about like the curly waves in the window?  I can!

Last, but not least, here is the teeny bird I bought at Goldbug.  He’s very sweet, but extremely difficult to photograph.  My friend got one just like him, but with less of the green patina.  I love him.

I feel like I’ve forgotten something.  I will check my treasures and let you know!

Oh, I also bought four magazines on this trip.  Four.  Because this was MY weekend and I like magazines.  Woohoooo!

Happy Monday!

P.S. I forgot to mention that I also went to Mignon Chocolates.  I have to confess, I am a diehard See’s Candies loyalist, but I would happily eat another of Mignon’s Amaretto truffles if I had to.  😀

P.P.S.  The little boy seems pleased with my one and only purchase from Lula Mae this time:

♥♥

What a Lovely Weekend

I spent last night alone at the Marriott in Pasadena.

I drove up by myself, walked all over Old Town, popped into a few little shops, and took myself out to Il Fornaio too.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy eating all by myself in a nice restaurant.

It’s so fun to people watch, and somehow, the solitude makes you really savor the textures, colors and flavors of your food.

I started with a Caesar salad.  It was very fresh and just the right size, but I was not a fan of the croutons.  There were only three and they were almost too crunchy to eat.

The bread that came with the meal was similarly crunchy and also difficult to eat.  The olive oil and balsamic vinegar helped.

Next, I enjoyed ravioli filled with butternut squash and walnuts.  It was served with brown butter, tomato sauce, and crispy sage.

The sage was great.  It was actually dipped in something a little denser than a tempura batter and then fried.  It was unusual and a very welcome addition to the plate.

My only disappointment with the entree was the amount of the tomato sauce.  The ravioli needed a little more oomph, but there wasn’t a lot of that sauce to do it.  The flavors were all wonderful, just not quite proportioned properly.

Of course, none of that stopped me from cleaning my plate. 😀

I got dessert too.  I ordered by sight from the cart and really didn’t know what I was in for.  To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.  It was possibly the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever eaten.  It included a layer of fresh raspberries and it came in a pool of cream fraiche and raspberry coulis.  Another raspberry sat on top.  Delicious.

The entire day was delightful.

And long overdue.

I haven’t needed a break that badly in quite a while.  😐

This morning I got up early, ate some cereal in my room, then drove to the Rose Bowl to meet a friend for the monthly flea market.

We both had some cash to burn this time, so it was a lot of fun.

When our feet could take no more, we drove back into town, bought a couple of teeny bird figurines at  Goldbug, ate a very pleasant, leisurely meal at Mi Piace, and then looked at every single item in Lula Mae.  I LOVE that place.  So sweet.

We parted company around 4:00 p.m.

On the way home, I stopped at Cost Plus World Market to finish out my fun.

Now, I am exhausted and ready to hibernate.

I’ll post pictures of my new treasures in a couple of days.

I hope you had a good weekend too!

Happy Sunday!

♥♥

Carlsbad Staycation

The little boy went back to school yesterday.  Yea!

And he did it with lots of excitement and no complaint.  Amazing.

Of course, he usually melts down on day two or three after a break, so we’ll see how the rest of the week plays out.

Last Wednesday, we took a little trip up the road to Carlsbad.  We stayed at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites for a couple of nights and took the boy to Legoland.  It was nice to get out of our stinky cat hair house for a while.

On the way to the hotel, we stopped at the Forum Shopping Center.  We took a walk on the adjacent La Costa Glen Trail and then popped into Gepetto’s to get the boy a few toys for the trip.  He picked out a magnetic dartboard and a small car that lights up.

The hotel was great.  The room was a little bit small considering the amenities packed inside it.  We had a full fridge, a two-burner stove, a small dishwasher, a full set of dishes, an HDTV, and granite everything.  Very convenient.

The king-sized bed was too soft for our taste and our son’s pull-out sofa sleeper took up too much of the room, but everything was really clean and the hotel service was excellent.  We swam in the pool and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

My only real complaint with the Hyatt might be that the bathroom door had no lock.  Our son doesn’t really understand our need for privacy yet, so that was problematic for us.  There also wasn’t a fan to muffle any noises in the bathroom either.  If you know what I mean.  And I think you do.  🙂

The hotel is small and located a little too far to walk to anything, but Carlsbad is not a difficult place to navigate by car and the distance to Legoland, the beach, and the downtown village is minimal.  There is no restaurant on site, but the hotel does make up for this with complimentary social hours with drinks and appetizers every night and continental breakfasts each morning.

We hit Legoland on day two of our adventure.  The boy wouldn’t go on a single ride, so we basically spent $268 for a really long walk, but it was fun anyway.  There are popper fountains and a great climbing structure that the boy enjoys.  Note in the photos how he passed out for an afternoon nap at the end of the day.  He was pooped.  He hasn’t napped like that since he was two years old!

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On Friday morning, we went to Bobby’s Hideaway Cafe for breakfast.  It was yummy.

Bobby’s is located next door to Buffalo Brothers Guitars.  Husband happily went there while the boy and I went across the parking lot to a botanical wonderland called Plant Play Nursery.

I have decided I would like to curl up inside one of the giant, beautiful, glazed turquoise basins in this place and live there forever.  Plant Play is teeny and charming.  Go, if you’re ever in the area.

When the husband finished his brief tour of Buffalo Brothers, he and his green thumbs wandered over to find us and he got sucked in just like we did.  We bought four plants total and we both want to go back again.  I am still dreaming of a gorgeous old rusty wrought iron trellis I saw.

We headed home after that and finished out the break with egg hunts and an Easter brunch at my mom’s house.  Pix of that tomorrow.  Maybe.

And that’s about it!

Happy Monday!!

It’s good to be back!

P.S.  The little boy continues his movie making.  He doesn’t know the words to the song, but he’s committed to the process!  I sure do love him.

♥♥

#14 – Things I sorta already knew…

but learned again this week:

  • If I let the child mix the colors, the cupcakes will have dusky purple frosting and his fingertips will be blue and red for several days.
  • If we get to Pump It Up right when it opens, the little boy will actually tire out and want to go before they make us leave.
  • It’s fun to make popcorn with your kid.
  • No matter how many fights I have with our insurance companies, there is always someone dear to me who is fighting harder and getting less.
  • I am not social with strangers.
  • Despite my best efforts, my default demeanor, facial expression, and/or assumed disposition are NOT sunny and welcoming.
  • I have the best two brothers in the entire world.
  • I want my mom to let me choose her next dog.
  • I love to read good books.  Kindred has surprised me.  It’s not what I expected.  I know the minute I finish the last page, I will seek out Butler’s other works.
  • I don’t like reading dust jackets or forewords or authors’ notes until I finish a book.  I go in blind, and either I’m engaged or I’m not.
  • It’s not possible to find the right loaf pan for my pumpkin bread recipe.
  • Our dishwasher is dying.
  • My son always leaves his fast food toys at the restaurant.  On purpose.
  • If I find a beauty product that I like, they will stop making it or at least stop carrying it anywhere that doesn’t charge $5.00 for shipping.  This goes for cheese too…sigh…Vons hasn’t stocked the Saga classic blue brie since I raved about it to my facebook friends.  And Leerdammer…best cheese ever…I don’t know where to get it locally either.
  • I go through thirft store withdrawals if I don’t get to one of them every few weeks.
  • My oldest cat doesn’t see as well as she used to.  Yes, Poupon, that’s a cat treat on the floor in front of you.
  • The little boy really never tires of his Legos.
  • I really hate carpet next to sinks and showers.  Gross.
  • Our cats shed enough fur to make another cat.
  • I don’t want another cat.  Especially not a fake one crafted from fur off the others.
  • The words “vacation” and “break” can be defined as a period of time in which mothers are required to work harder.
  • Everything really does seem better when you already know when your next chocolate is happening.  🙂

Happy Tuesday!

♥♥

How I Miss Thee

What a nice week!  Christmas has once again come and gone, but the house still feels cheery and we played tourist today, so I’m in a good mood.

We drove over the bridge to snap a few photos in front of the Hotel del Coronado’s giant Christmas tree.  There were a lot of people crammed into the lobby with the very same idea, but we forged ahead and enjoyed a short walk through the downstairs shops as well.

My favorite of those is Babcock & Story Emporium.  Since I am not usually alone when I go to Coronado, I never have quite enough time in this store!  The shelves are jam-packed with the sweetest things – little birds and baubles and dishes and soaps and carved wood this and that.

The prices always seem prohibitively, touristy high at first glance, but I am convinced I can find sale items with more time to scout them out.  Hey, wait a minute!  Now that I think about it, it’s torture to go there!  Someday I will drive back by myself and spend all the time I like.  😀

This afternoon, I was on high alert with the little boy and his gotta-touch-everything instincts.  He’s VERY into candles this month.  Sensory thing – has to smell them all.  And I mean all.  Babcock & Story has a lot.  😐

He dropped a big glass candle jar at Vons on Christmas Eve.  Had it been a preferred scent, I might have taken the damned thing home and peeled the broken glass from around the wax.  But no, he had to break a stinky one – pine or something.  I put it in the cart and tried to pay for it, but the store manager checked me through and wouldn’t take my money.  Thank you, Vons Manager.  My kid and I owe you one.

Back to playing tourist…

After paying $15 (ouch) for a two-hour stay in the hotel parking lot, we bid adieu to the Christmas Tree and made our merry way to Old Town’s Casa Guadalajara for Mexican food.  Culture!  Color!  Melted cheese!  Who could ask for anything more?  Free parking?  You got it!

I ordered the same combo plate I order at every Mexican restaurant I visit: a chili relleno, a cheese enchilada with salsa verde, and vegetarian black beans with lettuce and tomato instead of rice.  Delicioso!  Guadalajara makes a spicy chili relleno.  I always forget that and for a few minutes I can’t get enough iced tea.  It is this meal that makes me know I can never be a vegan.  God help me.  Poor cows.  Poor my stomach.  It’s a LOT of cheese.

Anyhoo, after we finished lapping up our puddles of yummy, we walked across the parking lot to the Bazaar del Mundo shops.  This is one of my favorite places the day after Christmas.  Bazaar del Mundo is always a feast for the eyes and a boost for the shopper’s soul, but on this day it’s holiday sparkly and full of half-price fun.

The little boy picked out this enormous green ball for just $3.00:

and I added a pink armadillo to my tin ornament collection:

Pink armadillo.  Heh heh.  He’s funny, right?  I love him.  LOVE him!

Oh my, I am suddenly so sleepy.

Grammy and Grandpa turned in two hours ago, not far behind the little boy.  Husband is down the hall, getting hopelessly lost in his new video game and I am wondering why we’ve both kept our eyes open so late into the night.  It’s 11:29.  Husband has to work tomorrow.  I’d better go rescue him while it’s not too late to put our heads on the pillows today, instead of tomorrow.

Night night.

And Happy Sunday!

P.S.  I have missed you and I will be back to regular writing sometime this week.

♥♥