July 10, 2007

Postcards from Seaworld

Today my brother-in-law and his new bride took us all to SeaWorld. I'm sure he and The Husband could have gotten along quite well without being subjected to the tortures of yet one more visit with Shamu. But my brother-in-law is now a married man and so therefore his life is never the same. He will happily live alongside pink poofy things, EBay envelopes, and more shoes than anyone ever thought existed. And in their case, tiny shoes. Tiny, cute shoes.

He will also, most likely, spend the next year playing tourist in his own town as she sets out to start the building of newlywed memories and an unusually large photo collection of strange animals, flowers, and the two of them in front of signs, buildings, and trees. I predict he’ll curse things to himself and mumble under his breath all the while. But he’s in love and fond of peace and quiet so he’ll smile at her lovely face and tell her, "yes, dear, there is no other place I'd rather be on a Saturday afternoon than here with you. And the smelly antelopes and carnivorous plants that smell like rotten meat. How about one more picture for the scrapbook?" Plus she’s sensible. She brings sunscreen and snacks. I already love her.

He now barely has a chance against my sister-in-law's masterful power of coaxing suggestion and unspoken promises of sad puppy-dog eyes and pouting. I believe they now teach this technique in pre-marital counseling. It's quite effective. We’re all going to Disneyland this weekend and we saw four fish shows today.

The children are feeling quite spoiled. They absolutely love their new aunt. She’s pretty, smart, kind, generous, a kid at heart, and she buys them ginormous cups of soda with big plastic animals on top. Accompanied by sugary-cinnamon pastries. What’s not to love? Whoever said you can’t buy love obviously didn’t have children.

The Sister-in-law also brought her family from Taiwan. There was the six of us, my mother-in-law, her uncle (her father’s brother), his wife, their two teen kids, and her other aunt named Lucy. Lucy adores LiL’ J. In fact, he’s been the star all week beginning at the wedding day. He has a paparazzi following. Somewhere in San Diego, China, and Taiwan, about 100 different Chinese homes will have a picture of my youngest son on their mantle. And some of the photographs will include themselves. Yes, my little man now is in the family photos of quite a few Chinese families. He’s been a great sport and has smiled in all of them. That is more than I can say for my family shots. I couldn’t even get a picture of him with the starfish.

The weather wasn’t too bad, but it was hot and it was crowded and there was very little cloud cover. Where is the smogmarine layer when you need it? Let me tell you a little something about myself. I don’t do heat well. The heat doesn’t like me and I don’t like it. I especially don’t do well when the sun just beats down on my in-need-of -a -color touch-up head. I brought lots of water, sunglasses, and a hat. Even so, I had to sit the first sea lion show out because I began to feel woozy and faint while waiting in the outdoor bleachers. The situation is really quite a drag and it’s made worse by the fact that I don’t sweat at all. It doesn’t matter how hot it is. I could be wearing a black sweat suit on a hot July day and I’d be lucky to have two drops of glistening perspiration on my nose. And if it’s humid, well than, it’s all over. My legs become tree trunks, my ankles look like they belong on an elephant, and it’s quite possible I might die. Or want to kill myself. This is understandable when your ankles look like they belong on an elephant. With all that said, I survived the whole day with some careful modifications. I wet a bandana frequently and wear it on my neck. I also go into the bathroom and splash water all over my head and chest. I stop short with the splashing just before I begin to look like I’m in a wet t-shirt concert. I may look like a weirdo, but I’m leaving there alive. Eventually it cooled down and some clouds came out. There was a nice breeze too.

I did make one mistake though. I think I’m pretty sure I offended my new sister-in-law. Eventually hunger set in for her family and many members of my own clan. The Husband’s mom is a vegetarian and usually doesn’t eat anything at these places. The Husband didn’t seem interested in the menu fare of SeaWorld, his brother passed, and I just figured I’d eat later. My sister-in-law did pick out a Shamu bucket lunch for Lil’ J and she tried to get food for the girls and J. However, we were all a bit uncomfortable with the idea of her spending upwards of fifty dollars on a SeaWorld lunch. Well, all of us except for LiL’ J, he happily munched away at the contents of his Shamu happy meal without a thought or care. His aunt rocks! Mooch opted for nothing, even though she was hungry. Snoo never passes up food, and even though I told her not to, she snuck off and paid for her own lunch. J said he wanted a chicken fajitas sandwich which T ordered for him. Then when she saw him walk up and order fajitas she looked at the extra sandwich on her tray and I knew there was trouble. Apparently, he had wanted the fajitas and didn’t even realize the sandwich was ordered for him, how very teen boyish of him, and because he’s felt awkward at how generous she is, he also paid for his down meal, leaving her with the sandwich she thought he had wanted.

A big lesson was learned. When your sister-in-law wants to treat you to lunch, lots of fun places, and the like, gladly accept and enjoy it. I now know this is how my sister-in-law is. She likes to do this for people. She wants to make sure her visiting family is having a great time and she wants to treat her new family just as well. I think it might be a cultural thing too and her feelings were quite hurt. I could tell it changed her demeanor for the rest of the day. I asked my brother-in-law if we had hurt her feelings and he confirmed. We’re just not used to this kind of treatment. We’re a big family too and she’s spoiling us. I later apologized and just told her that we’re sometimes just a prideful, stubborn bunch and that she’s just so sweet it takes some getting used to.

Now on to the pictures.

You can view the whole set from my flickr page, but I’ll show a little recap here.

Here's an attempt at a family shot. That's J on the far left. He's my ogre son. He's almost 6'1 by now. Notice he's almost smiling. Which is quite different from his normal "This sucks. This is lame. Here's my angry face" expression. Compare this picture to the one from yesterday at the zoo. I wanted to wring his neck. Below him is The Husband and LiL' J. Above them and to J's left is T's cousin from Taiwan. Don't ask what her name is, I can't pronounce it. I am to The Husbands left. No, I haven't lost the twenty pounds yet, and yes, I see I'm giving IVillage a big fat plug, but it was a free hat back from my community leader days and I couldn't find my other one. Aunt Lucy is above me and to her left is Jerry. When he came to study in America many years ago, the teacher couldn't pronounce his name so he called him Jerry. And his American name has been so ever since. Below Jerry is Snoo, who for some reason thought she'd need a hooded sweatshirt in San Diego. In July. With a red sequin clad hat with a purple star. It must have made sense to her at the time. My mother-in-law is next to her, then the beautiful bride and my brother-in-law followed by Mooch with her cellphone monkey. I have had to put up with monkey cameos in our family pictures for years. (I learned that lesson quick. It wasn't worth the fight and tantrums so if they want to smile and pose with a pet rock next to their head, it's all good)

Blended Family

Here's the story on the following picture. My brother-in-law hates his picture taken. Loathes his picture taken. While his wife loves having her picture taken. As you can see from Saturday and Sunday's pictures, he has been a great sport about it. I'm surprised that the poor woman got the engagement and wedding pictures that she did. Not only did he get his picture taken all day Friday, but we had to go to Balboa Park on Saturday for more, and then the both of them went to the beach again by themselves for yet even more pictures. So, during the last few days I've been taking as many as I can because that man will actually take my sim card away from me or lock pictures of himself in a zipped folder in my computer when I try to take his picture any other time. It's true. He's done this before. He informed me this morning that all pictures were unauthorized as of today. Pffft.

Here he is courtesy of my telephoto lens. I'm likin' that bad boy. The lens that is. Although the brother is OK too.


Aren't they cute?


Dolphin sighting. Because our party was so large and we came later in the day so we wouldn't be dead tired by the time the night Shamu show came along, we missed a few of the shows. One of them was the dolphin show and the Shamu show. Very disappointing, but we lived. Oh, and this brought back a lot of memories for a San Diego girl like myself. Almost every little girl in San Diego dreams of becoming a dolphin trainer.


I believe this is before the first show, that I missed. I hid somewhere in the shade and in the breeze. Notice all of them red-vested people selling crap. How would like that job? Stay in school kids!

Who doesn't love a Sea Lion?

Balance and Poise

Here a walrus is spitting at a woman. I don't blame him. If it was acceptable, I'd spit on some people too, especially if they made me do tricks for laughs. But society frowns upon that sort of thing.

I Don't Blame Him

Here I am sure he's contemplating revenge

Comtemplating Revenge

And this is why

And this is Why

It may be overpriced and extremely commercial, but it's no denying. SeaWorld is fun. When you take your kids to see dancing otters, acrobatic dolphins, and killer whales-they think you're the bestest parents in the world and they love you forever. Even if you force them to eat zucchini. But training walruses to roll-over like a dog while every one qawks at their privates is just plain wrong. And a little weird.

This next photo, well that was wrong on many levels.

Poor Sea Lion

And, I hope they pay those girls well. They not only have to dress up in dumb outfits, act out cheesy skits, and go home with fishy-smelling hands, but then they risk the threat of having pictures of their big arses smothering mammals that weigh several tons put on a mom's blog in Wisconsin. I feel no remorse though, I had to endure a slew of bad jokes.

How come I don't have rodents bringing me frosty cold beverages? Where's the fairness in that?

Hospitable Otter

This next photo was taken by The Husband. It's from the circus soleil show.

Purple Man

I missed this show too. Only this time it was because I said hello to a little old lady and asked her if she needed any help and she then never let me leave. She was also allergic to the sun which was why she was hiding under a little tree next to the stage. I had planned on standing in the shade while I waited for the show to start. After she told me she was OK and was just trying to avoid a sunburn, she proceded to spend the next twenty minutes or so, or what felt like much longer, confiding in me all the things that a new widow feels. Especially when their daughter moves away to Arizona. Which never turns out to be a good idea. Moving to Arizona that is. Unless you are a rattlesnake.

We actually had quite a bit in common. Only, she's a mother and a woman on the very other end of the age spectrum.

This woman's daughter and her family came to San Diego after they had to cancel a trip to Missouri because of bad weather. They were already packed and figured-why not take a trip down to sunny San Diego for a little break. The lady was from Northern California, where orange groves still flourish, and her daughter had moved her family to Arizona. The daughter has seen the light though and she is moving back somwhere to California and is buying a house with a mother-in-law suite for her mother. The older woman was very relieved as she hated visiting them in Arizona. She didn't like having to do her morning exercise at 3am.

This we don't have in common as I don't like doing it at all. Which is why I haven't lost the twenty pounds yet. I digress.

I never ended up seeing the show. What was I supposed to do? Say, I'm sorry you lost your husband of forty years and that you feel too scared to stay in your beautiful northern California ranch that you raised your family in. The same family that have gone and left you at a time when you feel so vulnerable. Good luck with that, enjoy the rest of your visit.

No, I'm a softie when I need to be and so I listened to her share a edited down version of her interesting life while she shed a few tears. It was a rather nice encounter actually. She thanked me and told me what a nice young woman I was. (Apparently her eye sight is failing.) When her daughter came to find her, and realized I wasn't trying to swindle her mother out of money or get her involved in some pyramid scam, she gave me a smile of gratitude that her mother didn't stand out there all by herself after all.

Santa will be good to me this christmas, I know it.

And here are some more pictures. Don't try this at home. I'm quite sure my husband would drop me and I'd spend ten months in a body cast. What can I say? I'm out of shape and I bruise easy.


Look at how flexible these people have to be. Tchah. Whatever. I can nurse a baby, fold laundry, talk on the phone, send an email, and cook dinner all at the same time. Minus the neon pink leotard of course. It's still at the dry cleaners. The Husband hasn't gotten there yet.


Here is my beautiful Mooch and her new beautiful aunt.

New Aunt

Here's sun-kissedburned Snoo and the starfish

Snoo hates her picture taken. I told her, you WILL pick up that slimy sea creature and smile. And she did. I love her.

The kids and their new chinese cousins waited for over an hour to get on this water ride. This is why we ended up missing the dolphin show. They had fun though, as you can see from their expressions? Yes, they have been practicing being more photogenic. It shows.

Here's a shot fresh from the ride. As you can see, it is a summer of Hollister. Yep. Every where we go we see Hollister. Hollister. Schmollister. I'm not complaining. I'll take any thing over J's fashion choices two years ago when he looked like an angry, "emo" with a girl's bob haircut. Good God, what was he thinking, and how did I stand it as long as I did?

Summer of Hollister

This is a great shot of T's cousin. She was drenched. Aunt Lucy's in the back. While they were all waiting for the ride aunt Lucy, my mother-in-law, and myself all browsed some shops. Lucy bought Lil' J a Ty Buddy Shamu and a SeaWorld shirt. She was so exicted to buy it for him and to bring it to him and little did she know he'd need it, because his shirt was dripping wet and it had started getting breezy.


They all had a blast and it was fun watching them get so wet.

Crowd of Smiles

Aunt Lucy is showing us all how wet lil' J got.

Drenched Shirt

Now on to the dolphins. For $5 you can feed and pet the dolphins. My mother-in-law has been giving the children money this week. Each one is getting $150 and she divides it up among our outings so they'll have some throughout the week. They can spend it or save it up. LiL' J is usually very frugal with his money. He'll save it up for toys, but today he wanted to feed the dolphins. We had to wait in line to buy three small fish and he had to be careful not to let the seagulls get them. Snoo saw us in line and snuck it, even though she had no intentions of buying any fish. She ended up getting to pet the dolphin more than LiL' J even though he paid, because she was taller and faster. So, I made her pay him two dollars. Yes, I actually did. Then, there was this annoying woman who was trying to get pictures of her annoying boys with the dolphin. They had already paid, pet, and should have left. But, she kept standing in our way trying to get them to jump into the water or something. She saw LiL' J with the fish and instead of getting out of the way for him, she kept telling her boys, "quick, here comes the dolphin, get over there and pet him, wait, smile...look at me". She did this like five times. I kept telling my excited seven year old to just wait a minute. I wanted the you-know-what to leave first. I couldn't get a picture because her big fat head was in the way and so were her obnoxious boys. When LiL J's fish were finally gone, she said, "OK, boys. Let's get out of the way, this family is trying to get pictures of their little boy." Ugh. I never did get pictures of LiL' J with the dolphin and he barely got to pet them. I have lots of four letter words for that woman. She was a piece of work.

Here's a little girl watching the dolphin swim over.


Here's LiL' J's fish flying in

Feeding Time

The dolphin feeding area is full of dolphins who know from experience which side of the pool to visit when they want some fish. This dolphin was a happy fellow. He's our postcard for the day. Hello, from SeaWorld. We're having a blast! Wish you could join us. Well, some of you.

Magical Smile

There are more photos in the set so go look. You will see very few pictures of the kids though because they were being twits about having their picture taken. We finally get to go on a fabulous vacation, visit great places, and be with family and they squawk at getting their pictures taken.

Go figure

It was a great day and we're blessed and thankful. All the walking is keeping me from gaining five-hundred pounds on this trip. What, with all the mexican food and slushees. I just can't help myself. I think we're just going to take it easy tomorrow and hang around the pool. Which is good because I am exhausted. Don't be too jealous. I still haven't made it to the beach.

July 09, 2007

Postcard From the Zoo

Today's postcards...

Home Sweet Home


Tree Hugger

Greetings, from sometimes sunny San Diego. The wedding rush is finally over, but I was not allowed to pass out because today my ever so generous, tiny, beautiful new sister-in-law treated both our family and her family from Taiwan to a day at the zoo. My mother-in-law came, but somehow The Husband and his brother managed to dodge this family outing. I think they said something about having to return tuxes, rental chairs, and needing to give blood. See, he had a very bad childhood. It was traumatizing really. His mother took him and his brother to the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and Seaworld just about every month.

I heard you gasp. Yes, what a pity. What a shame that any child should have to endure such dastardly things. It's no wonder he made it through life. My poor poor husband. Boo Hoo.

Now, being a San Diego native and having had the privilege of possessing member passes, I've been to the zoo quite often. Although, I hardly ever got to go as a child unlike my poor, abused husband. What a relief that I managed to escape that kind of neglect and travesty in my childhood.

Cause, if I had to go see Effalumps and Woozles too much--well now-- that might have sent me over the edge.

Once I got married and had offspring of my own I got memberships to the zoo. In my apathy for my husbands deep wounds, I learned very little and repeated the pattern of abuse of too-much-nature-fun. I tried to warn the lil’ punks. "If you children don't stop breaking things and being so naughty I'm going to take you to the zoo, again and again! You got that?!"

They’ve survived. For the most part. In my opinion, you can never visit the San Diego Zoo too much. I had no idea how much I missed San Diego until I set foot on the grounds. Or maybe I just missed the zoo. I miss the tropical botanicals. The smell of the air at the zoo is amazing. It actually smells fresh and sweet even though you're in a place that produces a gazillion tons of animal dung every year.

That's a lot of poop.

I really have missed the hibiscus among other plants. The bursts of colors have been missed. So much of San Diego is dry and brown, but the bright flowers in shades of purple, oranges, reds, and pinks makes up for the lack of green in a lot of places. At the zoo though there’s plenty of green foliage and plant life. I kept breathing in the eucalyptus scent and it brought back so many memories of my childhood spent in San Diego. I tried to get some pictures of the plant life but we were whizzing through the zoo so fast and the pictures I did get didn’t turn out well. I want to take home hibiscus and force it to grow with my Jedi powers.

Grow among the dairy farms, breweries, and corn fields you will. Die of frost, you will not.

And because I'm obsessed with pictures I took a bunch, but keep in mind I was traveling through the zoo at supersonic speeds with twelve other people. Only seven of them English speaking. There are far fewer pictures then usual, but good memories nonetheless. As always you can also visit my flickr page.