Thursday, May 3, 2012

While Erin’s Been Away

Good morning, little giraffe. Apologies for the grain. Bad light + iPhone front cam.

Erin’s been way far away for the past week—as in other side of the Atlantic far away—doing all kinds of indescribably awesome things. Alice and I have been up to a few adventures of our own. Much smaller, Alice-sized adventures.

The teary goodbyes by the stars

Before Erin left, I made up a list of all of the things Alice and I could do to keep ourselves busy throughout the days. Because I’d be the solo parent for multiple days on end, I wanted a deep bullpen of activities we could look forward to, and not have to think things up on the fly, or when Alice was melting down. And hey, it really did the trick. We’ve had a remarkably easy, and very fun week together. I was pretty sure we’d be fine here on our own, but you just never know how a toddler will be this week...or next.

The first couple of days were spent near home, running things as usual, and preparing for my parents to arrive to give me a break. They were here helping for a few days and got some quality, uninterrupted Alice time, and didn’t have to share her with anyone else. That’s rare the way we usually all get together.

I looked after this guy while the grandparents took Alice on a little walk. The bed in this house is a bit smaller than the ones at his home.

When the grandparents loaded up the RV and left the driveway Monday, it was just me and Alice again. By this point, I had more things on my list than days left, so we just started ticking them off.

My list:
  • The zoo
  • Our music class on Wednesdays
  • Make cookies (we both enjoy cookies to an unhealthy level...I can keep her at bay, but I’m a lost cause)
  • Travel Town
  • Bike rides
  • The park
  • Bubbles in the back yard
Tuesday morning, we loaded up and went to the zoo. But first we made a stop at Snookie’s Cookies. I’d conceded we probably wouldn’t have time to make the cookies, so this would have to do. We saw all of our favorites—the neeks, tigers, giraffes, snow leopards (my fav.), and all the monkeys we could find! We attempted a ride on the carousel, well I bought three carousel tokens in anticipation. Alice kept saying leh-perd, leh-perd as shopped the selection of animal saddles. Just as last time, when she instantly regretted her giraffe selection, she could not have been more displeased with her snow leopard choice.

Eating a little cookie by the water fountain at the zoo, up close with Billy the elephant, studying this rattle snake, and one crocodile sleeping with his snack!

Days were tricky to juggle. Our activities were bite sized and we timed them to fit between meals, naps, and the Skype-ing we did with Erin every day at noon. It’s been a mad dash to get home to answer the video phone every day, but neither of us would miss it for the world, it just took a little bit of planning and hustling.

Wednesday was an even bigger day. We went to our rec. center music class in the morning. Alice is really into drumming and these colored squares of silk right now. It’s practically the only thing she talks about all week in between. She remembers which color she had at the last class, and even what color I had. She’s starting to pick up on the little songs and games quite a bit now. I sing her little cues during the day and she knows what happens next. That’s just the coolest thing to see happen. 

We rushed home to talk with mama after class, had lunch, and then hopped back into the car to go and visit my coworkers in the office. I don’t seem to make it out there very often (can’t imagine why?!), but this time there was another reason to visit: the Van Nuys airport public observation/play area. My company’s offices are directly adjacent to the Van Nuys airport—something that was never wasted on me when I made that daily commute. I’d spend breaks and lunches out at the fence watching the activity. It was pretty great. 

The Van Nuys airport is the busiest general aviation airport in the world, and the 25th busiest airport in the world by number of takeoffs and landings. The quantity and variety of aircraft at this airport is really unmatched any place. Sit in this park for ten minutes, and you’ll see ten different airplanes, helicopters, or corporate jets moving in a nearly endless parade. This airport is one of the few remaining that really appreciates its heritage and fosters good will toward the next generation. Enter, the public observation area. Complete with covered picnic areas, benches, an accurate airport diagram painted on the ground for the kiddies to run on, and for the big kids to see just where taxiway bravo is, historical displays, and they pipe in the live air traffic control communications so you can follow along with what you’re seeing, or about to see if you pay attention to it all closely enough.

Alice holding short of the world famous runway one six right, on her takeoff roll, and playing with the airport vehicle cutouts.
This is how close the action is. Here’s the fence, then a service road, then the main eastern taxiway toward the runway. Alice got to learn just how loud corporate jets are up close. I was afraid this might have freaked her out to the point of meltdown, but she was easily redirected to the play areas, and happy as a clam again. We’ll bring hearing protection next time!

And finally, this morning I learned the Play Me, I’m Yours public piano installation all around LA was in its final day before they pick them all up again. I’ve been meaning to make it out to at least one of the thirty painted pianos while they were on display, but like many things, time slipped away. But this was our chance. We were on a adventure hot streak this week, so I found one we could bike to this morning. And since we went early in the morning, we had the whole thing to ourselves! Alice had a look of confusion about it. Like, “why is this outside?” and “I can just go up to it and play it?” Alice is a pretty shy girl out in public and generally respects obvious boundaries, like of course dad would tell me not to touch that. I urged and helped her up onto the bench and off she went. Plink, plink, plink.

We only made it to one piano, but this guy did something really cool. Here’s the Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition on all thirty of them and cut it together.

So that’s been our week so far. We’re in the homestretch of Erin’s trip and the grandparents are back to help us to the finish line. It’s been a fun time just me and her. While I think Erin would half way like to hear that we’re lost without her, I’m sure she’s so much happier to hear that we’re fully functioning people having and actually pretty good time here passing the time until she returns.

Final score:

  • The zoo
  • Our music class on Wednesdays
  • Make cookies (kinda)
  • Travel Town (maybe next time)
  • Bike rides
  • The park
  • Bubbles in the back yard

P.S. Alice loves Simon’s Cat’s new kitten friend.


  1. You guys have had such a busy week, and a fun one too! Way to go dad! I love that you planned a week full of adventures to share together. Alice is blessed to have such wonderful parents.

    1. Aw, shucks. Thanks, Kristen. It’s the only chance we had at sanity.


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