This blog by children's book author Melissa Wiley originally appeared at ClubMom.com. All posts and comments have been moved here, to this archive. Comments are still open, so feel free to chime in. For new posts, please visit www.melissawiley.com.
This morning—I'm writing this on Monday night—I looked at my stat counter and was shocked to see that although it was barely 7 a.m., I already had a couple hundred hits on this here blog. Scott looked amused and pointed out that it was TEN a.m. on the East Coast, DUH, and all those hits were my morning-coffee readers and I'd given them nada. And you know here at ClubMom we are committed to posting at least five times a week. Five times—ha! I could write about fifteen posts a week for the next month and I probably still wouldn't have told all the stories from our trip. But then, Steve the LlamaButcher says I should just turn it into a novel. He's probably right. So much to tell! And new stuff every day, that's the thing, I just need a pause button to get caught up.
I like our little bungalow more and more each day. Mostly I just like saying bungalow. I'm not even sure it IS officially a bungalow, but it sure seems bungalicious to me. The front part of the house is all unpacked now, although technically it's more like the right half of the house—it's like a square split in half and one half is slid back a ways. That half has the living room, the kitchen, and another room whose name we keep changing.
I think we're a little weird about room names, the bonny clan and I. In our Virginia house, the bedrooms all had names: the Blue Room (the girls' room, which our great pal Dave painted blue for us as a housewarming gift—Benjamin Moore "Summer Blue," which is such a scrumptious color that Scott painted the girls' room in it HERE as a surprise for them, and boy did that go over big!! but I digress); the Pooh Room (I know, I know, so silly, but see, when we moved in there was a border strip of Winnie the Pooh wallpaper around the top of the room, and we never got around to taking it down, so the room was always the Pooh Room even after it became Wonderboy's and would have been called Wonderboy's Room by normal people) (except normal people probably wouldn't call their son Wonderboy); the Train Room (really the dining room, but we don't have a dining set, and we DO have a large Brio train table inherited from Scott's sister); and the Loom Room. Yes, the Loom Room. See, I have a loom. I have actually woven three fabrics on it in my life. One of them is the swatch of woolen cloth that serves as the background on Bonny Glen, and yes I've been waiting for a solid YEAR for someone to ask me about that lovely woven background. (Lissa blushes modestly: Why yes, I did weave it myself. Oh, go on, you're far too kind. It's just a little thing I threw together. Stop, you're embarrassing me!)
When we moved into the Virginia house, we put my loom in the extra bedroom and immediately christened the room The Loom Room. The Loom Room it remained for five years, despite the fact that no weaving ever took place within its walls. The loom loomed in the corner, a homey, inviting, faintly reproachful presence, sort of like Marian Cunningham. Even when we moved the loom OUT of that room three years ago, we kept on calling it the Loom Room. Later we moved the loom back into its old familiar corner. I stored my stack of special Christmas-themed picture books under it, untidily and for no sensible reason.
Anyway. Here we are in a new house and the loom is in pieces. (Sob! The darn movers, they didn't ask me, they just unscrewed!! As if I know how to put it back together! Oh sure, there's a manufacturer's website but it's in SWEDISH. I highly doubt Babelfish is up to the challenge. But we'll tackle that puzzle another day.)
So no loom room here. But the rooms here are already growing their own names. For example, there's the Mystery Room, so named because we haven't decided what to do with it. It's the only unassigned room in the house and will probably be our Fun Learning Stuff room or maybe my office? We dunno.
And then there's this room, the Patio. Except there's a real patio right outside. This is sort of an enclosed patio/sunroom/family room space, and the owners call it the patio room, and we started off that way but now we're wondering if that suits it best. Scott wants to call it the Salon, with a snooty faux-French pronunciation. I was thinking Sunroom, but Sal-O makes me laugh.
Of course, we stuck the old train table in here, and today I heard one of the girls calling it the Train Room, even though we haven't unpacked the actual trains yet. Huh.
Oh, brother, my apologies to those of you reading this incoherent rambling over your morning coffee. You probably needed a second cup to get through it. Forgive me; I haven't yet unpacked the box with my brain in it.
When I last wrote, it was Wednesday morning and we were crossing the border into California. After that we crossed an honest-to-goodness desert and some amazing mountains, about which more later. Scott drove us right past our new town and straight to the end of the road. He wanted the kids to see the sea first, before anything else. And just: wow. Pelicans! Sea lions! So much blue!
And then he brought us home. We're renting an adorable little (very little) bungalow about half an hour's drive from his office, which is right on the water. (His office, not our house.) Right now the house is crammed full of boxes (obviously) and we're squeezing through the cardboard towers trying to find clean socks or, say, the washing machine. But our wonderful new friends had dinner waiting for us—two dinners, in fact!—and bags full of goodies from Trader Joe's. We ate like kings the first night, if kings used paper plates. Last night, another feast, and this time on real plates because I did manage to get the kitchen unpacked yesterday.
People are so incredibly nice. And the internet, really, what an amazing thing. Here I am in a city I've never set foot in before, and I'm being showered with as much warmth and food as if I'd lived here all my life. Or, say, five years, which is how long I was in Virginia, where our dear friends and kind neighbors took such good care of us during the long weeks and months of Scott's absence.
When I have to actually cook dinner next week, I may faint from the novelty of it.
We are loving the sight of palm trees and flowers wherever we go. And mountains! San Diego has mountains everywhere, who knew? Okay, Scott did, and he kept telling me about them, but really you have to see the city for yourself to understand how beautifully the urban development is speckled into the landscape.
The gang and I went out for a walk today. Around the block, we thought. It's possible I should have taken a peek at the map first because it turns out that if you go left and left at the first two corners, you can't go left again for about three-quarters of a mile. And then you will find yourself at the 7-11 your husband pointed out on the way in, a five-minute ride by car, which amounts to about thirty-five minutes by double stroller. Uphill most of the way. Fortunately we popped INTO the 7-11 before embarking upon the trip home, and the children now think we've come to paradise because there are ice-cream sandwiches within walking distance.
Scott was worried that I'd think the house was too small or too urban. It is both small and urban, but it's going to be great. I'm writing from our enclosed patio which is really more like a sunroom. Nice cross-breeze, and lots of room for the kids to play. And, HELLO, he's here. Well, not actually at this MOMENT, but he'll walk in the door at dinnertime and we will rush him in a pack because we can't believe the separation is finally over and we are TOGETHER.
And I think I should tell you that the first thing I saw when I opened the fridge was a new stash of Ritter bars. The man is a jewel. I'd drive three thousand miles for him all over again, if I had to.
I was torn between the Annie lyrics and Peaches & Herb, but in a contest between sappy and cheesy, I will always go for the sap. And anyway, it's true: "I don't need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue..." I don't need anything but the driver of this minivan. We picked him up at the Phoenix airport yesterday, spent the night in Yuma AZ, and JUST CROSSED THE LINE INTO CALIFORNIA. Hey, there's the broccoli crossing sign!! We're here!
Just a couple more hours until we reach our new home.
I think I am now on a mission to title every other post with song lyrics. Just so you know.
I haven't actually stood on any corners in Arizona yet, though. After our Hair-Raising Adventure, which cannot be described with thumbs alone and must therefore wait until I reach the New House (hint: it involves vomit, plane tickets, and a pack of junkyard dogs), all I could do was deposit us in this hotel, which has plenty of corners but not the kind you stand on.
I suppose I should be glad we made it 2,417 miles before anyone threw up in the car.
Before that, though: Loretto Chapel (breathtaking despite the touristy entrance fee), Sandia Crest, and the NW NM visitor's Center (possibly the cleanest bathroom in America and a cool video on volcanoes).
I love the road signs in New Mexico. Polite, noncommittal, vaguely existential.
Gusty winds did in fact exist when we crossed Raton Pass from Colorado into New Mexico. Also gorgeous views. This is one spectacularly beautiful countrýwe live in.
Yesterday's travel highlights: a golden eagle swooping over the road, a herd of bison (not wild), lots of mule deer, prairie dogs, and--hey, Steve!--llamas. Also Pike's Peak, the Greenhorn Mountains, the Sangre de Christos, and the Spanish Peaks. Googleworthy landmarks: site of the Ludlow Massacre and Wagon Mound, NM. This morning we will explore Santa Fe, especially the church with the miraculous staircase. I have a great respect for the Sisters of Loretto, who built the church--but not the stair. (Something else for you to Google.)
And more hotel infamy! Last night we managed to lock our bathroom door from the inside when no one was in it. Brilliant!
In saucepan, combine 1 cup cold water, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup butter. Bring to boil and pour over dry ingredients. Beat until creamy. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk (only I'm pretty sure Mom just uses regular milk), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 eggs. Beat well. Bake in greased sheet pan (one of those big old cookie sheets, not a cake pan) at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.
Melt 1/2 cup butter and stir in 1/4 cup cocoa. Then stir in 1 lb. powdered sugar. Yes, one whole pound. Hush. Add 1/3 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and stir until creamy. Fold in 1/4 cup chopped pecans (I think my mom uses more than that, YUM) and, if you must, 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows cut in half. Personally, I'd think the marshmallows would make it too sweet. But it's your cake; do what you like.
Okay, there's my contribution to world happiness today. Now I have to go finish packing up. It's always the socks that get you, you know? I think we've left a trail of socks all the way across the country. There are at least six mateless socks in my bag now. I guess we can keep them as spares in the car so we won't get kicked out of any more McD's Playplaces. Did I tell you that story? Apparently you're not allowed in with bare feet anymore. They are very strict about that rule in Indiana, just so you know.
No post yesterday because I spent all day trying to figure out our plans for the next leg of this travelpalooza. And also eating cake. Karen, you asked WHAT KIND of cake? It's my mom's famous Rocky Road Sheet Cake although technically it isn't rocky road because years ago, at our request, she started leaving out the marshmallows. It's an incredibly moist and rich made-from-scratch sheet cake with a semisweet fudge frosting studded with pecans. You just can't believe how good this cake is. I will be riding the sugar-high all the way to New Mexico.
So. The movers threw a wrinkle into our plans. The truck was supposed to reach San Diego, oh, about now. Scott is waiting on the other end to meet it, and then the plan was for him to fly out here to Denver and make the rest of the trip with us. But now the truck isn't arriving until next Monday. Which means he loses the weekend for traveling. Argh.
But not to worry. We have a new plan. He's meeting us in Phoenix instead. See, we all really want to make the last bit of the drive together, the entry into California, the first glimpse of the Pacific. (For the kids and me, it really is our first glimpse. I've never been west of this great state of Colorado.)
So I'll leave Sunday and head south. Scott will meet the truck on Monday and grab a cheap one-way flight to Phoenix early Wednesday morning. (Knowing how inevitably the best-laid plans of mice and moms gang agley, we are allowing for a cushion day on Tuesday, just in case.)
In the meantime, the kids and I are thoroughly enjoying our respite at Grandma & Grandpa's house. The food, my word, the food! When my sister came for dinner the other night, she surveyed the feast my mother had prepared and remarked that she had just mentioned to her husband that she was in the mood for a Thanksgiving-like spread. Which is what we've had, every night. Just yum.
My dad has taught Wonderboy how to go down the slide head-first. Which explains why the kid is walking around with leaves plastered to his forehead. Awesome.
Yesterday was, as I said, devoted to trip planning and also the dreaded van-cleaning-out. Which actually wasn't too bad. I had to figure out how to clear space in the passenger seat for me to, you know, SIT in after Scott joins us. And then my mom took Jane and me shopping. Shopping! In an actual store! Where you see items in real life and put them in a shopping basket and then stand in line where an actual human person rings you up! No mouse-clicking of any kind! I could hardly remember how the whole system worked. Fortunately my mother was there to gently nudge me to the right side of the conveyor belt. ("No, dear, that's a cash register, not a computer, and you mustn't push the buttons.")
So little time to write! This morning, at least. We are off soon for another fun visit with friends, and I still haven't had a chance to write about our marvelous visit with the Edmisten clan, who (amazing, this!!) drove four hours to meet us in Kansas the other day. Four hours. Each way. I mean, really. A. MAZE. ING.
And then there are all the stories and snippets from the trip, the ones too long to type into a PDA. Soon, soon. (I am promising myself. Must chronicle travels or else explode into teeny tiny bits of untold tales. Story shrapnel?)
Of course I'll be forever in Alice's debt (again) for taking notes on all the things I babbled into my wireless headset on the drive. She is the best kind of friend, the kind who not only doesn't MIND if you interrupt her on the phone to maniacally shriek LOOK LOOK GIRLS A BURROWING OWL ON THE FENCEPOST OH RATS YOU MISSED IT!!!!! I'm sorry, Alice, you were saying?, she even writes down what you're shrieking about.She also says far nicer things about me than I deserve, but you can just skip over those parts. She is totally biased, and we should all just be very frank about that. Whenever she uses words like "descriptive," "spontaneous," and "adventurous," you should substitute "longwinded," "flaky," and "nuts." Just so you know.
On a totally unrelated note (except that it's about WRITING and see how cleverly I have tied it to the title of this post?), the Washington Post has an article today about cursive handwriting: how keyboarding is turning cursive into a dying art, and how many college applicants today can barely read cursive much less write a legible hand, and how there seems to be a link between cognitive development and cursive handwriting. Most of the homeschoolers I know do teach cursive (or, in my case, throw a cursive workbook at an eight-year-old girl and leave her alone with some gel pens, because all those swirls are ooh, so pretty!), so I was interested to read that few public schools spend much time on it nowadays.
The first (long) leg of our journey is over. We made it to my parents' house in Colorado, and the first thing I saw when I walked into my mother's kitchen was my favorite cake waiting for me on the counter. Which is why I can't write more right now. Don't want to get crumbs in my father's keyboard, you know.
The posts on these pages originally appeared at The Lilting House, my ClubMom blog about home education, fun learning resources, and special needs children.
When I decided it was time to wrap up my work at ClubMom, I moved all the Lilting House posts and comments to this archive. Comments are still open, so feel free to chime in on any post that interests you. I love to hear what my readers have to say!
These days I am doing all my new posting (including on many Lilting House topics) at my primary blog, Here in the Bonny Glen. There you will find posts about my books, other people's books, my family, home education, and many other topics.