Saturday 9: Uninvited
Shameless Plug - PLEASE READ

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Today was a really great day for Team Odette, save for one really dark spot that I'll get to later.

Well, I slept until after 1:30 PM, so I can't speak for the first half of the day, but Rob and the kids went out and played outside. You see, we were watching Harvey Milk late last night, and Rob brought me my pills. I haven't taken my sleeping pill in at least a week, because I've been tired and able to sleep without it, and I didn't check what he was giving me. You guessed it. So I zonked right out and didn't wake up for 10 or 11 hours!

Oh, before I forget, here's the picture I promised of the kids in their finished-thus-far jammies:


I'm loving them - so cute! So I really need to do the shirts, starting tonight or tomorrow. Probably tomorrow.


Sophie's Crepe Myrtle Hopi is doing really well, and there are a few flowers! She's so excited about that, being a major lover of both pink and flowers.

Anyway, after we got up and showered, we piled the kids in the car for a surprise adventure. They had no idea what we were going to do. I decided last night that I wanted to do this, but it was already late by then, so we had to wait 'til today: we drove down to the Virginia Aquarium and parked the van. Then, starting from the Marsh Pavilion and working our way northward on the beach, we rode the the busses and trolleys, stopping at all the penny presses on the oceanfront for those wonderful, cheap souvenirs that we (I) love to collect! (Holy sentence, Batman!)


There were four pennies to make at the Marsh Pavilion. We'd gotten a roll of quarters - and the six bucks it took our family of five to ride the trolleys all day - at the store before hitting the beach. Here's Sophie with her hand out for the coins, so she could turn the crank next.

(By the way, now that I edit all my pictures with the Creative Memories software for digital scrapping, you'll probably only be seeing the unedited versions. Sorry!)


Those hand cranks were really hard for all the kids near the end of the pressing process. Sophie, being the strongest, was the only one who could do it without help.


While we waited for transportation over to the main Aquarium building, we spotted this little garter snake along the wall. The kids were fascinated, and I enjoyed telling them about serpentine movement vs. concertina, to which they didn't listen at all. Rob wanted to keep the little bugger. He checked back for it when we returned hours later, but it was gone, of course.


The people on the bus go, "Shh! Shh! Shh!" *ahem* Sorry, we had to listen to kids' songs all the way down to the beach and back!


Our kids really like taking public transportation. I do, too, although I'm kind of an airhead when it comes to figuring out the routes and schedules. I used to love riding the MetroRail around Miami when I lived there...


We pressed four more pennies at the main Aquarium building.


Rob had some Tic-Tacs in his pocket, so he told the kids to close their eyes and open their mouths. For some reason, they actually trusted him. Usually, he makes them smell his stinky shoes or some such!


Rob took the kids over to the pinniped tank while I waited for the Trolley. Here it comes! "ROOOOBBBBBBB, come baaaaaaaack!!!"


The kiddos really got a kick out of riding the trolley - their first time, I think? - and kept commenting on the old-fashionedness of it.


Chloë, incessantly posing, on the trolley. She always insisted I sit next to her. I didn't mind. Sophie couldn't keep her butt in a seat for anything, though!


This picture cracks my ass up! Here we are at the next stop, the 15th Street Fishing Pier. As you can tell, it was much too sunny for proper picture posing! Luckily the penny press was before the turnstiles, so we didn't have to pay to go on the pier to get it. Just one at this stop. Sometime, we'll need to bring the rods and crab traps and actually come back for a day o' fishin'.


It was a hot, gorgeous day in Virginia Beach, so we decided to huff it along the boardwalk for the five blocks to the next stop, rather than hopping the trolley. There was a lovely, cooling wind coming off the ocean, so it wasn't unbearable at all. There were many swimmers and sunbathers down on the sand, and I yearned to join them. Well, the swimmers anyway. Of all the kids, guess who keeps asking to go back to the beach? Jack, surprise of surprises. We'll have to go again soon.


The kids quickly finished off the water bottles I'd brought along, so it was a good thing we finally found a bubbler that worked. Until Jack's turn, and then it quit! He was miffed, but Daddy kept at it, and finally the water flowed again. Phew!


Well, five blocks up, there was supposed to be an Oh! Fudge shop with a penny press. In its place was a sports memorabilia shop, but they directed us up to 22nd street where the other Oh! Fudge was located. And it had two penny presses, for a total of eight more pennies. I don't know what the kids were more interested in, though - the pennies, or the candy. We didn't buy any...


And the penny press inside... By the way, if you're looking for the penny press at Beachland at 21st street, it's gone. I doubt any of you are, though! (And Steph, there isn't a single penny machine in Chesapeake. Bummer.)


We caught the trolley again to ride the six blocks north to Forbes Candies at 28th Street. It was our last penny press of the day, so we had to make it a good one. We found penny collector books there, too, so we picked one up for six bucks.


The Flower Girl was at it again - she picked someone's flowers! Rob tucked them behind her ear while we rode the trolley some more. Naughty thing.


Unbeknownst to me, Rob never gave the kids lunch earlier in the day, and by this time it was dinnertime. So they were ravenous. Luckily, I'd brought along the Entertainment book, just in case. Unluckily, we chose to try Abbey Road on 22nd Street for dinner, with a BOGOF coupon.


Daddy and Sophie goofing around during the interminable wait for our server to come


My little buddy sat next to me, and we got in lots of cuddles.

So, the rant review of Abbey Road: It was horrible. Our server, Paula, was a huge bitch, and the service was abysmal. The food was only mediocre, so it really wasn't worth the huge shouting match we got in with both her and the manager when it turned out she'd brought the wrong meal to me, with an overcharge of six bucks. Which is a big difference when you're trying to keep the spending down. I ordered the Broiled Scallops - $12.99. She brought me the Deep Sea Scallops, $18.99.  Their argument was that they are both "broiled scallops," and if I'd wanted the $13 plate, I should have specified it was on the Lite Menu. Um, no. First of all, I pointed to the one I wanted when ordering, second, if I'd wanted the samn Deep Sea Scallops, I would have ordered "Deep Sea Scallops" instead of saying "Broiled Scallops," which is exactly how the menu differentiates between the two, and thirdly, I barely ate any of them, so take them back and eat them yourselves! (And she did take them back, hehe.) 

Also, you're not allowed to order sandwiches between 5 and 10 pm, which is stupid as hell. It specifies that on the adult menu, so fine, but not on the kids' menu, so I pitched a fit when my kids couldn't order the hot dog and PB&J sandwiches they wanted. The manager later told us that, in fact, kids sandwiches can be ordered any time of the day, so the server was wrong about that. And she was very inattentive - we waited over a half-hour for her to bring us the check, after we finished eating! Ridiculous. In the end, the manager gave us what we wanted and was very apologetic, but I was royally pissed. I will say that the bathroom is nice... but Steph, you'll probably want to cross that one out of your Entertainment book!

Ugh. What was supposed to be a wonderful, happy day was very soured by this experience. There was more, but I'm forgetting right now, and I don't really want to think too hard about it!


Jacky-boy and his dad getting in a nice snuggle while we waited for the check to come


All-in-all, it was a super fun day, and we really wore the kids out. (I love that Jack fell asleep with a shoe on his hand!) We have one more penny left in Virginia Beach, but it's not really on the oceanfront, so we'll save it for (hopefully) next weekend.  There was a free (American Idol winner) David Cook concert on the beach tonight, which I would have checked out if I was really a fan, but I'm not. So don't hate.

One more thing about today: We have begun something we call "The Game of Life" here at Chez Odette. I read it as a suggestion in this month's Family Fun magazine. The kids will be earning points for things like doing what they're told (the first time), cleaning up, helping out with other chores, eating healthy foods, etc. The point values are kind of arbitrary; we're just making this up as we go. But when they get to 1000 points, they get to pick a piece of paper out of the prize bucket. Those are things like "you get special time with Daddy," "you get to pick out a piece of candy at the store," and other fun stuff. They are really getting into this game! And incessant whining? Makes you lose all your points for the day. The kids were really fabulous today, and they earned an average of 95 points each! If you have any suggestions for the prize bucket, or anything else, please share!