One New Thing Every Day

From the day I turned 29, I tried to do one new thing a day... it took a few extra months, but I did it! Now I'll post new things randomly as I try them.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

#277 - TLG's Adventures in Rides, Part 2

After visiting the other local amusement parks, today we finally visited Silver Dollar City. Some friends who moved from Reno to Arkansas years ago drove up and brought their wonderful kids to spend the day with us, exploring this park. Again, TLG was fascinated with the rides (the photo shows us on the hopping frog ride, but he also liked the ladybugs, the butterflies, the teacups, the elephants, etc.) Everyone's favorite ride was a family ride called Lost River of the Ozarks, where six people at a time float down a ride and get all wet. This park has lots of craftsmen and shows, but we spent most of the time visiting with our friends and waiting in lines for rides. We skipped TLG's nap in favor of staying with our friends all day, and eventually he fell asleep in the stroller (at which time the two of us snuck off to ride a roller coaster, leaving him peacefully snoozing with our ice-cream-eating friends). Thanks, Grubbs, for driving in to see us - what a wonderful day we had!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

#276 - Bring on the Wine

Branson has a couple of local wineries, and tonight I sampled a whole new kind of wine I've never heard of: Stone Hill Winery's Pink Catawba. This dessert wine was extra sweet, and a cotton candy pink color. Not being much of a connoisseur, it was too sweet for my tastes and definitely much better chilled than lukewarm straight from the store!

#275 - Feeding Stingrays

After our Ducks adventure (see below), we headed to Predator World, a zoo/aquarium that had a great assortment of mammals, reptiles and aquatic life to see. The photo shows TLG getting up close with a leopard! But the most exciting part of this visit was that we fed some sting rays! (Note: my hubby thinks they might have been mana rays, but I can't find any info on their website to confirm this?) In any case, the helpful employee explained where his mouth is (well under a flap that looks like it should be a mouth), and how to hold a piece of fish for them to retrieve. TLG just dropped his piece of fish in the water, but my hubby and I both got to feed fish directly into the ray's mouth. It was very smooth underneath his chin, and a pretty amazing experience.

#274 - Ride the Ducks

This morning we rode in an amphibious vehicle, based on the WWII DUKW, as part of Ride the Ducks, a local tourist attraction. This tour of town took us up into the Ozark mountains, showed us some other WWII vehicles, then went driving into Table Rock Lake and out into the water quite a ways. It's amazing to think that this vehicle/boat is 60 years old, and it was lots of fun to learn about them. The tour guide graciously let TLG "drive" the boat while it was in the water (see photo), which he loved... but his favorite part about this tour was getting a souvenir "quacker" noisemaker that does sound remarkably like a duck. It looks like a duck's bill and we all got one to take home, which was fun and will make for a nice reminder of a fun morning.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

#273 - TLG's Adventures in Rides, Part 1

After doing more driving around and relaxing today, we visited Celebration City (an amusement park also affiliated with Silver Dollar City) and took TLG on his first amusement park rides. This photo was taken before the carousel began moving on his first time around - we went on it three or four more times before we told him it was time to find another ride to try. He loved the rides, he went on all the smaller kiddie rides we could find, plus the giant ferris wheel with both of us. He was sad that he was too short for the bumper cars - our only meltdown of the day - but fortunately he's tall for his age so he met the 36" requirement for most of the others. When it got towards closing time, we high-tailed it across the park to see the laser and fireworks show, which was pretty spectacular. Since he'd seen fireworks on the 4th of July and knew what they were, he was doubly impressed to see them so big, and so high in the sky!

Monday, July 28, 2008

#272 - TLG's First Water Park

White Water Park in Branson is part of three amusement parks affiliated with Silver Dollar City, and today we gave White Water a try. My childhood penpal and her son met us there, so our little party of five braved the fountains, lazy river, wave pools and some of the family-friendly larger slides. TLG was a little cautious at first, but once he realized how great his lifejacket was for making splashing fun, he left us adults in the dust! He splashed everywhere, turning levers and wheels to turn the fountains on-and-off, and wanted to float down the river without an innertube (and without me holding on) just to be swimming by himself. The waves at the wave pool got a little intense in the water, so we sat at the edge at let the waves lap at our feet instead. Once we wore ourselves out, we all went to dinner together to enjoy a little more time in one place. Man, it was great to spend a whole day with my good friend Steph! Thanks for making that drive to see us!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

#271 - Sightseeing Branson

We drove around Branson today and explored the resort where we're staying. The humidity here is enough to make a desert-dwelling family melt, but we saw plenty of things we'd like to visit more in-depth in the days to come. Our resort has three pools (indoor, outdoor, and a kiddie pool) and we spent plenty of time there cooling off, but in the evening we visited a newly refurbished downtown area of Branson called, aptly: Branson Landing (see photo for a great shot of the fountain show we saw). Mostly filled with chain stores like Bass Pro Shop, Coldwater Creek, etc., we stopped for ice cream at a Marble Slab Creamery.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

#270 - Tulsa to Branson

Today the three of us flew to Tulsa, OK where we rented a car and drove to Branson, MO. None of us have seen this beautiful part of the country before, and it did not dissapoint! A few new things, wrapped up into one post along with some observations:
- Oklahoma, at least the part we saw, is very flat and green. There are many cows and horses, and each time the little guy saw a bunch of cows, he parroted my hubby and said "Holy Cows!" So very cute.
- An interesting observation at the Arby's in OK where we finally had lunch: they had a little bar next to the soda dispenser where you could get pickles and peppers for your sandwich. I've never seen that before!
- Missouri is more hilly near the border, and once you enter the beautiful Ozark mountains, you can definitely tell.

- Missouri has awesome rest areas (see photo). The first one we stopped at had a big sign for "2007 Quality Award Winner" from the MODoT, and it was easy to see why. The little guy and I had a blast playing at the playground - a good break after being on two planes and in the car all day. They also had a great welcome area, bathrooms, and tons of vending machines.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

#269 - Freebies to a Good Cause

At our house, we get lots of free stuff in the mail from non-profit organizations, including address labels, nickels, pins, stickers, greeting cards, and 12-month calendars. As you know if you read this blog regularly, I love to recycle things/donate things/make good use of things as often as possible. Today I took a bunch of 12-month calendars and donated them to the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program. I used to be a big sister, and I know that they give wall calendars to the "littles" so they can write down when they have time scheduled to be with their "bigs." Today's stash included calendars with all sorts of themes: wildlife, puppies/kitties, classic Jeeps, and flowers. Hey, it's better than recycling them or throwing them away! If anybody reading this gets similar calendars and is thinking of tossing them out - please save them for me the next time you see me, ok?

Funny thing, though, I came home after dropping off the calendars, and what did we get in the mail? You guessed it. Another calendar. Go figure.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

#268 - Kids Night at Red Robin

We happened on Kids Night at Red Robin tonight, and enjoyed it very much. Of course, their mascot "Red" met us at the door. The little guy was too shy to even try a high-five with Red, but couldn't stop looking at him either (so cute!). Our waiter explained that all the video games in the game room were free tonight, so my hubby and TLG tried out one with two guns, shooting at stuff on the screen. TLG thought this was really fun. There was a tie for the best part of Kids Night (from TLG's perspective, anyway): the balloon maker who made him a red motorcycle out of a balloon, and the free ice cream sundae that came after his meal. The manager came over to ask us how we were doing, and chatted us up about coming back every Tuesday. Turns out there was a magician roaming around (we didn't see him), and they just hired a juggler to start soon, too. We love Red Robin anyways, but TLG got a kick out of all the special things they had there. I see Tuesday treats in our future!

Monday, July 21, 2008

#267 - Little Philadelphia

I don't know why I've been trying so many new places to eat recently, but today for lunch I had a cheesesteak sandwich from Little Philadelphia. I've driven past this tiny place a million times (it's just down the street from where my fabulous hubby works) but have never stopped to try it. My boss and coworker both got really excited that I was going shopping on my lunch break right nearby, and begged me to bring back sandwiches. With those accolades, how could I not try it? The place really is as small on the inside as it looks on the outside, only a handful of tables, though there are more outside. It was clean and had plenty of Philly-related sports memorabilia and photos of the city. I ordered a small cheesesteak sandwich with the works (grilled mushrooms, red peppers and onions), plus fries. And of course the bizarre sandwiches for my coworkers (one of whom is on an Atkins-like diet, so no bun on that sandwich). They got the order correct (sometimes this is asking a lot), and I took it all back to work. By the time I got there, the food had cooled off considerably, but it still tasted good. If I ever get to eat at this place again, I'd recommend eating it in the restaurant (before the cheese cools off and gets gelatinous). And no matter what your boss tells you about the hot sauce on your sandwich, go easy. It's HOT.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

#266 - Mad Men

Today, on our DVR, we recorded all 13 episodes of the first season of "Mad Men" and this evening I watched the first one. This show airs on AMC and the second season begins next week. It's about people who work at an ad agency in the 1960's, so the costumes and scenery are all very stylized, but I especially noticed the music. The first episode contained a great arrangement of the song "Caravan" as well as "On The Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady. The actors were very believable, and I know this show has been nominated for more Emmy awards than any other drama this year. I had high hopes going in, and I definitely liked it enough to watch the rest of the season.

#265 - Potato Play-Doh

The little guy and I opened one of his Christmas gifts today, and it was a huge hit: Mr. Potato Head in a Play-Doh kit. What a great idea this toy was - whoever dreamed it up at the Play-Doh factory was a genius. You use the Play-Doh for the body, and it came with all the feet, eyes, mouths, etc. that you would see on a regular Potato Head. Some of the hats, etc. had holes in the top to make crazy hair, or feet, which was lots of fun. We only used one color of dough (blue), and it held our attention (both of us!) for almost an hour (that's a long time when you're only 2 years old!) It was a perfect day to have a new toy to play with, and we both enjoyed this one very much.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

#264 - Play Date

This evening we invited the little guy's best friend from day care (and her family) over for dinner and a play date. We don't have company very often, and we've never invited a family over from the day care, so this was entirely new to us... The little guy had an absolute BLAST and I think he will sleep for a week, they were playing so hard. They ran around, giggling, taking every toy out of the baskets and dumped everything on the floor... then ran outside, up and down the slide and climbing wall. We just had an easy BBQ meal so I got to visit with the adults, which was a real treat. Our dogs also really enjoyed having some new folks to throw the ball for them (we're lucky they are dog people, too). It was a very nice evening for everybody.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

#263 - No More Chewing!

Our newer dog, Penny, loves to chew things that are not toys. So far she has destroyed a bunch of pillows, blankets, water buckets, pieces of wood, and dragged trash and recycling items into the yard. Her newest thing to chew on is the little guy's still-new swing set. While at Whole Foods today, I bought a bottle of Hartz brand "Clean Earth" Natural Chew Prevention Aid, which is supposed to make things bitter to taste for pets. The little guy helped me spray it on each of the areas where she's been chewing, so we worked on this project together. I really hope it helps, because we spent too much $$$ on that swing set to let our dog eat it!

#262 - A Visit to Whole Foods

For lunch today, I went to the new Whole Foods market here in Reno with some of my coworkers. The store itself was much larger than I thought at first glance - when I stepped in the door I thought "This is gigantic!" They have fresh produce, food and wine on one side of the store. The center is organic/environmentally friendly house products, pet care, baby care, home decor and cosmetics. The other side of the store is a giant salad bar, soup bar, deli counter and lots of choices to eat right away. There's a small section for eating inside, with more seating outside. I did a little shopping before picking out my lunch, and then chose a sandwich called the "Artown" on crusty bread with spinach, two kinds of meat, cheese, tomato, and some sort of pesto sauce. I had some kettle potato chips and a sparkling blueberry soda, and enjoyed each bite. We took single-serving desserts back to the office for a mid-afternoon snack, and though my carrot cake was a little dry, it was still tasty. The store was very crowded and we were surprised that none of us saw anybody we knew in that huge crowd. It was clean and well-stocked, and the lines moved quickly. Being an ever-more-fanatic supporter of the environment, I liked the products they were selling but the prices seemed a bit high for regular shopping.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

#261 - Providing Inspiration

At my new place of employment, before most committee meetings tackle the business on their agendas, there is often found an inspirational quote, poem, or prayer given. Today I was asked to give the inspirational moment before the environmental committee. It took me a couple of hours yesterday to decide what I wanted to say, but eventually what I came up with is that I'd like the little guy to still have a clean environment and enough natural resources to enjoy what I have been given over the years. And I read most of the words to Kermit the Frog's "I Wonder About the World Above Up There" from Sesame Street, which is a nice ode to noticing how wonderful the earth is. My hubby gets a lot of flack from me about recycling, and turning off lights and other electrical equipment when they're not in use, but I really hope that if enough of us change our light bulbs out, etc. that future generations will still have enough clean air and energy to have a good life.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

#260 - Aliens in America

This evening, I caught an episode of the already-been-cancelled CW sitcom "Aliens in America." The show is about a Wisconsin family sponsoring a Muslim teenage boy as an exchange student, and stars Scott Patterson from "Gilmore Girls" (one of my all-time favorites). It was actually pretty funny for a show with a plot so racially-charged... I thought the teenaged actors did a much better job than some on other popular shows ("That 70s Show" comes to mind).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

#259 - Dino Sprinkler Set

To beat the heat, this afternoon we set up a new sprinkler set in the shape of a dinosaur/
something like that.
The little guy LOVED it. Our backyard is a great place to run around anyways, but sprinklers on a hot day - who can go wrong? The tail is stationary, and the middle section is a great place to run through - even our dogs enjoyed that part of the sprinklers. The head of the dino turns around in a circle, spraying water all the way around, and my favorite photo from this adventure is when the head stopped turning and TLG wanted a drink:

When TLG was too cold to run around anymore, we wrapped him in a towel, handed him a piece of watermelon to nibble on, and quick made some sausage sandwiches and corn-on-the-cob on the BBQ for dinner. It was a perfect evening for a picnic in the backyard, and we enjoyed every minute of it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

#258 - National Slurpee Day

I did not know that today is a national holiday... apparently, each year on July 11 (get it, 7/11?) all 7-11 stores nationwide give away free Slurpees. So today, on my way home from work, I stopped to get a Slurpee and partake in this fabulous new holiday. The free Slurpees were the child-size cups, but that was plenty to give myself a beauty of a brain freeze in the car on the way home. There had some interesting-sounding flavors to choose from, including a sugar-free Crystal Light lemonade flavor, but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my Slurpees and I got the original cherry flavor (now made with cherry Fanta, I guess, but it tasted the same to me). I called each member of my immediate family to invite them to their nearest 7-11 to enjoy this wonderful holiday, though I don't think any of them took me up on it. Their loss.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

#257 - Down, Up, Down, Up... and So On

The little guy did not want to go to bed tonight, and he told us so. In fact, he got up three different times, tried to put on regular shorts and insisted that he wanted to be awake. We were downstairs playing euchre with Grandma and Grandpa, and admittedly we were laughing and having fun, so perhaps he just didn't want to miss anything. The first time, he was halfway down the stairs before I went to take him back upstairs. I settled him back in and closed the door. The second time, my hubby went to check on him, and found him with no shorts on, holding some daytime shorts and wanting to come downstairs. The third time, I found him peeking out from behind his door, wearing no shorts but holding his p.j. shorts and asking for his teddy bear. After settling him back in bed, the two of us said "Goodnight" to many of the things in his room (like in the book Goodnight, Moon) and that's the last we've seen of TLG this evening. This big boy bed stuff is lots of work!

#256 - More Hair Fun

I hate to bore you with more details about my quest to get the perfect curly hair... but today instead of using the mousse I usually use to create curls, I tried a new product: John Frieda Collection Frizz-Ease "Dream Curls" Curl Perfecting Spray. You just spray it on damp hair and scrunch, then let your hair dry naturally (which I do anyways). I followed the directions exactly, and while I thought it looked a little "crunchy" as we were leaving the house this morning, that settled down during the day and for the most part I looked exactly as I always do today. Nobody seemed to notice that my hair was more-or-less curly than usual, so I think when this bottle is gone, I'll probably save my extra $$$ and go back to my normal mousse (which costs about half).

Monday, July 7, 2008

#255 - And I Pity Any Girl Who Isn't Me Today

I wore flowers in my hair to work today. It was nearly 100 degrees in Reno today and I'll admit this morning I didn't feel much like going to work after a wonderful holiday weekend. So this morning, when the little guy picked out a flowered clip from my hair drawer (from my bridal shower, years ago, the one-and-only time I've worn flowers in my hair outside of a costume) and insisted I wear it today, I thought: What the heck? I was amazed at how many compliments I received, not only from co-workers but from perfect strangers in the restaurant at lunch time. I did feel pretty, so maybe I was walking differently than normal, and it was a nice feeling.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

#254 - Swimming With A Quasi-Net

The little guy loves anything to do with playing in water - and today we let him swim in my aunt and uncle's pool with a lifejacket so he didn't have to cling to us. At first, we let him try with just a circular fish blow-up toy (see photo) but that made me really nervous, especially in the deep end of the pool. The lifejacket is made for little guys, and is attached to some spandex shorts so there was no way for him to get out of it - he seemed to like it and it made me feel a little more safe about him being in the pool. His favorite activities alternated between jumping in (with me catching him each time) and using the fish floaty to swim by kicking his legs up-and-back the length of the pool. We had a great time in swimming!

Friday, July 4, 2008

#253 - Fireworks!

Happy 4th of July! Tonight, we shared fireworks with our little guy for the first time. (Last year, he went to bed too early to see them, and the year before he was too little to understand.) We set up on the sidewalk at my sister's house in California, and had a giant box of them to set off. My wonderful hubby and my brother-in-law did all the lighting of the fires, and they did a great job. My sister provided delicious desserts to accompany the pyrotechnics, and the rest of us ooohed and aaaahed. The little guy loved them, and clapped after almost every one. Here's a shot of him at the beginning of the fireworks show:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

#252 - That's Why They Call It The Pita Pit!

I had lunch today at a new place: The Pita Pit. I went with a friend from my old workplace who I haven't seen in a long time, and we had a great time. I asked the cashier taking my order for his recommendations, and one of the ones he mentioned was something called souvlaki. If you look this up on the internet, they tell you it's supposed to be made of lamb, but The Pita Pit makes theirs out of marinated chicken. They have a flat griddle where someone cooks your meat, while someone else prepares your pita much like at a Subway or Port of Subs. Since I've never had souvlaki and didn't know what kind of marinade they use, I told the pita guy I like all kinds of vegetables and would he please be in charge of making sure my pita tasted good? He did a great job, he added lettuce, green pepper, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, sprouts, some sort of white creamy cheesy stuff (I forget the name), and "secret sauce". When the meat was done, he wrapped it up and I was ready to give it a try - delicious! I shouldn't have eaten the whole thing, but I enjoyed each bite. I wish this place was closer to work, I would go back there again soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

#251 - Rallying Cry

Today I attended a rally at my alma mater to help garner interest in keeping the marching band program in the future. It was exciting to have about 60-ish current, past and upcoming band members in attendance with instruments, and another 100 or so supporters with signs. It was a peaceful rally, not a protest or anything - we played the fight song and alma mater songs over and over, chanted and made noise. I didn't stay for the town hall meeting that took place afterwards, but according to the media, there were 500 people there with questions about the future of the University. All three news stations and our local newspaper showed up to cover the band rally and if you are so inclined, you can watch the news here:

Budget Cuts Could Hurt UNR Marching Band (KTVN Channel 2 - search by story title in the video box, look for me in the shot in the band room!)

UNR band protests what Glick says to be "deep and painful" cuts (KRNV Channel 4)

UNR Marching Band Vows to Play On (KOLO News Channel 8)

UNR band rallies to save itself (Reno Gazette-Journal)

Save the Band Rally Photos (Reno Gazette-Journal)

Just for fun, I've posted two photos of the Pride of the Sierra Marching Band playing at the final home game of the 1998 season. It's hard to believe this was ten years ago already.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

#250 - Reno is Artown

Tonight our family attended the opening event for Artown in downtown Reno. We started at McKinley Park at about 6:00 where they had face painting, kids activities and the Noteables were performing. About 6:45 the March Forth Marching Band appeared, with performers on stilts (fascinating for the little guy) and a great little performance in the park. Then we all "marched" in the parade behind the band all the way to Wingfield Park, where we sat and visited with my good friend Mary. Actually, we saw lots of people we know at this event. It was fun, and there were tons of people. The photo was taken during the parade (not the most flattering shot of me, I realize, but it's hard to smile for an action shot while you're marching and carrying a 40-pound child on your back!)