Saturday, June 12, 2010

The latest obsession

We've been living with the Thomas / Toby / Rosie / Percy obsession for quite some time now but these last few days have seen a disturbing, and definitely nerdy extension to this obsession. We're accustomed to bringing home books on trains from the library and just recently Leah's been very taken with the railroad (railway) crossing signal.

'What's dat?' she shouted last night in bed pointing at the book and then looking up at me expectantly. I explain that it's a railroad crossing and that it's to stop the cars from crossing the road when the train goes by. 'Ray-road cwossin?' she repeats. 'Yes Leah, a railroad crossing.' To help her understanding I used my arms to mimic the barriers coming down while 'ding ding dinging' for added effect, then used Rosie to demonstrate the train going by and then 'ding ding dinged' as the barriers / my arms came back up. Leah was rapt!! 'Gain, gain' she yelled absolutely delighted...10 MORE TIMES!!! By the end of it Leah was raising her arms up and down and dinging and 'Rosie go by' and clearly having a whale of a time.

I managed, with a huge amount of protesting, to extract myself from her room and hoped that she'd think no more about it but of course first thing this morning she wanted me to continue with the demonstrations. Enter You Tube. What a fantastic invention. Within seconds I'd found a video that perfectly illustrated what we'd been discussing complete with 'Thomas' - she could not have been happier.

So ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Strasburg Railroad - #475 and #90:

For a special treat, click on 2GUNBOY's comments under the video to learn more about the type of signal lights that are used at this particular crossing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reliving the pre-baby days

I'm going to skip over the fact that it's been 2.5 months since my last blog post and jump straight in as if nothing were amiss.

There, you didn't notice a thing did you?

Today was Paul's birthday. For the last goodness knows how long he has tended to celebrate his birthday on his own and usually going to see a film that I would never go and see (Indiana Jones, James Bond, that kind of thing) and usually because I've had some work commitment or other. Well there was definitely no work commitment this time around and having had a bit of a stressful last month or so I decided to take the day off and we'd relive our former baby-free days by dropping Leah off with the nanny and going exploring. A little heartless perhaps to ship the kiddie off and celebrate without her but then she's nearly 2 and just these last couple of days has been experimenting with running-dive tantrums. After 3 tantrums and one 'naughty corner' by 7.30am this morning any regrets at ditching her were gone and I gladly waved goodbye and sped off home to collect Paul.

Possibly the headiest moment of the day occurred immediately when we realised that it would take us all of 5 minutes to get ready to go. No snacks, diapers, sippy cups, spare clothes, toy for the car, clothes-wrestling, shoe-tying, hair combing and clipping, oh crap we forgot her strollering. Just 'I've got keys, I've got the camera' and we were out.

We headed out north over the Golden Gate Bridge determined not to say 'this is the last time that.....' for the whole day. We thought it would be a nice idea to head along the 'scenic' highway 1 where there are apparently exceptional views of Mt. Tamalpais, various valleys and the Pacific coastline. I say apparently and I use 'scenic' because today the fog had come all the way down to the extent that we couldn't see anything past the side of the road so no scenery just an awful lot of twisty turny road that went uphill and downhill and in and out and round and round. After 30 minutes and nowhere near enough miles I was ready to barf. We pulled over at Stinson Beach and I desperately fought the urge to lie down flat on the cool wet sand and instead hunched over and kept very still. We attempted to enjoy the misty atmospheric scenery but a crazy guy in a Bobcat kept scooping up sand and piling it nearby, and the smell of the diesel from the engine to a nauseous girl was nearly more than I could bear. You know when you're stuck on a boat, feeling sea-sick, and you can smell the diesel of the boat engine - it was exactly like that. Blleeuurrgghhh. Luckily I tend to often feel sick but not often follow through and so it was that I managed to retain my stomach contents and head indoors for a cup of coffee and celebratory coffee cake. Incidentally if there are any knowledgeable folks out there - is American coffee cake cake that you eat while drinking coffee as opposed to cake that tastes like coffee? I've eaten countless coffee cake while being here and never tasted any coffee at all.

When I was sufficiently recovered we continued on our journey north to Point Reyes Station, momentarily considering the 42m detour to the lighthouse only to simultaneously say 'naaahh' and head up to the quiet and fairly yuppy town that is PRS. We parked the car and proceeded to pootle about as only the child-free can, popping into bookstores, gift shops, boutiques and downright weird stores without a care in the world - bliss! We picked up a t-shirt for Paul and some ridiculously expensive hand-made pasta for Leah because it had rainbow stripes in it and when enough time had elapsed since the coffee cake settled down in the sun to a relaxing lunch of burger for Paul and scrambled eggs with feta and spinach for me:
Feeling replenished and refreshed we continued on our journey north towards Bodega Bay. As Paul is such and avid film buff I was determined to show Paul the schoolhouse from The Birds even though he displayed very very little interest in seeing it. We passed through several quaint little American outposts with those little windmill things that I don't know the name of but always make me think of the Waltons, To Kill a Mockingbird and all those other stereotypes (must take a photo of one or Google it so that I can get the name). We missed our turning. Well, when I say missed what I mean is Paul discounted it as the right turning despite being designated driver and definitely not being designated navigator. But anyway we were kind of glad that we did because we got to see some fabulous coastline enshrouded in heavy mist - very Hitchcockian a la Rebecca:
I suppose this coastline could also have been used in The Birds, and I should probably now confess to not having seen The Birds despite my mother going through extraordinary lengths to track down the DVD after we visited Bodega a few years ago - sorry Mum. Anyway, I have seen Rebecca many times and this is what it reminded me of so there.

We then jumped back in the car and drove through the tall eucalyptus trees and over to the tiny town of Bodega where the church and the schoolhouse are located. I almost didn't recognise the house (not because I haven't seen the film but because it's been done up) and looks positively smart these days.
We managed to get in the way of an American family shooting a home movie with their 3 kids recreating scenes from the film with the help of a stuffed toy seagull and now two Brits trying to blend into the background and sticking out like sore thumbs. True to his actions all morning, Paul wasn't really bothered and couldn't really remember much of the film either (hmmm starting to wonder if he's seen it at this point), but we ticked the box and then set off across wine country over to the 101 and back through the city in time to pick up Leah from her nanny who had nearly had a nervous breakdown after looking after two 'horrible' nearly 2 year olds for 10 hours.

We took a huge risk, knowing that Leah had been a monster in the morning, horrible for most of the day, and clearly very tired on the way home to go ahead with the cupcake birthday cake plan and sing Daddy a Happy Birthday (Leah refusing and screeching for the cake the whole time):
Still it was a lovely day and really nice to be able to take our time and remember the two of us from the old days.

As a sign-off - a tribute to The Birds from a too short-lived British sketch show: