We went to the Renaissance Faire yesterday.

Wait. Before we go on, I need you to understand that when I say Renaissance, I am saying it like this:

Okay, now that we’ve established that SUPER IMPORTANT FACT. The faire.

I love our faire. Costumes range from tavern wenches to pirates to barbarians to steam punk and no one gets all weird about it–everyone is just having fun. Anachronisms reign supreme (hoops skirts! Did I mention steam punk?) and it is awesome.

Renting this wagon is the best $15 I’ve spent in recent memory. Pulling it around kind of sucked (though Will did most of that because he is awesome) but it reduced child carrying by about 90% and since it was 104 degrees outside I would have paid double.

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Left: Sam climbing the rock wall. Right: Grace was overheated within 10 minutes. Ack.

Will and Sam had a fencing lesson! Sam was actually instructed to make finger guns.

(True fact: Will fenced at pre-Olympic level as a kid, but opted out of intensive Olympic training because he is smart.)

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Left: I took this to show Grace how dirty her face was. She laughed. Middle: Grace makes friends everywhere we go. Right: My new motto.

Aww, what a cute pig thief. Somebody let her go!

Ugh, look at that wench. Lock her up and throw away the key.

Grace started asking if she could ride a horse the minute we got there. And here she is riding her choice of the ponies, Ginger!

Grace in the petting zoo. Will took this picture shortly while I leaned against a tree, trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion.

Me and Grace on the dragon boat. She petted the dragon and called him a good boy in between shrieks of joy.

We ended the day with the jumper. Sam did this two years ago and loved it–and you can tell he remembers.

Grace INSISTED on going too, which made me nervous. I wasn’t sure she would go through with it, and it’s the most expensive ride–but she loved it. LOVED IT. She started jumping before the nice young man could give her a test bounce (which they do for all the little kids) and she didn’t stop until he stopped her when her time was up.

Oh yeah, I took video.

Grace loves jumping! from Annika B. Klein on Vimeo.

Grace’s jump comes to an end. from Annika B. Klein on Vimeo.

It was a long day full of heat exhaustion, and we spent way too much money, but it was SO MUCH FUN. And I think we all avoided sunburn! Huzzah!

And then I slept ~12 hours and this morning I very nearly put cayenne pepper on my yogurt instead of cinnamon.


It was Will’s 36th birthday last week. I gave him a new pair of pajamas, a toothbrush, and a hand-knitted wash cloth. He was like, “Um…” And I was like, “It’s a hint.” And he was like, “Um. We’re going somewhere?”

Back in NOVEMBER I’d reserved us a room at the Pioneertown Motel. I’d also contacted a whole bunch of our friends and invited them to join us. I did not mention this to Will on his birthday, just told him that we were going. Friday night we had dinner with Katherine and Tommy, and after we ate I took the children back to the motel (200 yards behind Pappy & Harriet’s! I LOVE STAYING THERE!) and Will stayed and had a few beers with them. So I missed the look on his face when Dan and Chia walked in. Apparently he could not speak for like three full minutes. AWESOME.

Saturday we went to Joshua Tree and Sam climbed some really big rocks. When we got back, Shelby and Briana showed up. Will was not particularly surprised about that. He says that he figured if there was a birthday celebration and his best friend DIDN’T show up, that would be a surprise. We had dinner at Pappy & Harriet’s again, and then he took Sam back to the room, which meant he missed Will and Nina‘s arrival. We all headed back to the motel after dinner, and Will was chatting with Sam when Nina joined in the conversation and Will did a genuine double-take.

The best part of the whole weekend was sitting on the porch, shooting the shit with our friends while the babies snoozed inside. At last the evening wound down and we went to bed. (I say “at last.” It was like 8:45. We were EXHAUSTED.) Sunday morning we had breakfast with Dan and Chia and headed home. Halfway there we stopped for coffees because we were still so tired that neither of us felt capable of driving any further. We made it, though! Obviously!

It was incredible. And I can’t believe I pulled off the surprise(s). Happy Birthday, honey!

(There are no photos in this post because my computer is so damn full that I don’t dare try to re-size any until I clean it up a bit. Please to use your imagination.)

How the week ended


There was a lot of swimming. In fact, Sam went in the pool every single day that we were at Cassie’s, sometimes twice. I bought him goggles, which he doesn’t care for, and a kickboard, which he LOVES. He can get all the way across the pool by himself! Best $4.99 purchase ever.

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Grace went in a lot, too. I swear she likes it. No, really.


(Most of these pictures–at least the ones I am in–were taken by my sister. I have this Canon Waterproof Camera and it really does work underwater!)

AND! We did this:


I took more kite-flying pictures, but with my sister’s camera, which means I can’t show them to you yet. OMG it was so much fun! Up next, making our own kite! Or at least buying a nicer one.

Yes, that is Roy Rogers.


OMG. (The feller on the left was doing a John Wayne voice. I thought it was pretty good but Will was unimpressed and thought he looked more like Hoss from Bonanza. Roy, though–I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s an actual descendant. It was really something.)

Taken (by my sister) at The Autry for National Day of the Cowboy & Cowgirl, which is today.

Where have I been?

Santa Barbara, San Simeon, King City, Morgan Hill, San Francisco, Mill Valley, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Sacramento, Auburn, Coloma, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Drytown, Jackson, Angels Camp, Columbia State Historic Park, Casa de Fruta Parkway (Hollister), King City, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks*, home.


*This was just a pit stop but I am including it because I actually know what town it was.

Makin’ Plans

I’ve been giving some thought to my 2010 Goals, now that it is April and Grace is no longer brand new and I’ve had some time to think about things.

Here’s my new list:

1. Have baby. (Keeping that one, obviously, since I accomplished it! Even if I did it ahead of schedule, at the end of 2009.)

2. Write. Anything, as long as it makes me feel like a writer again. (And if I happen to finish that MG novel, I will show it to Nova.)

3. Knitting goals: finish design that was accepted (done), submit at least one more proposal (one down, two more being written), and self-publish one pattern (I have a few partly done and will pick one to finish).

4. Go rollerskating. (What? It seems pretty doable.)

5. Get another tattoo.

6. There is nooooooooo number six!

7. Teach someone to knit. (Done! And hopefully I’ll also teach K, since it’s on her 30 by 30.)

8. Do at least one of the food-related items on my Life List.

9. Dye my hair blue.

10. Go on vacation with my family.

I had been thinking I’d have to give up that last one, but my mom decided for me! She is coming out here in June to meet Grace (circumstances made it impossible for her to come sooner) and we are going to drive up to NorCal (that’s northern California) with the kids and my sister to see my Grandpa. I am really hoping Will can get a few days off work and join us.

I’m trying to plan the trip in such a way to make it the best possible for everyone, but especially Sam. Mom wants to go to Half Moon Bay, which K and I loved when we were there in (OMG) 1989 and I think Sam will enjoy. And I want to detour to Gold Rush country! As I mentioned over here, I bought a travel book on the subject. Sam saw the picture on the cover and asked to go there, so I think it’s probably a good bet.

So what else to do? We’re probably going to drive up the 101. Doesn’t it go across the Golden Gate Bridge? I hope so. That would be awesome. Who wants to meet us at the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park?

Because we really have not had enough adventures yet this week.

Will has been feeling under the weather the last two days, just really tired and worn out. He could be fighting something off or he might just be really tired and worn out. I’d give the two possibilities equal weight. Anyway, this morning we’d planned to have a family outing to Travel Town, but I suggested that Will get a few hours’ rest while I took Sam out. I considered going to Travel Town anyway, but decided instead to see if Sam likes the Griffith Park ponies as well as he liked the County Fair ponies.

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(He does.)

Next we went on the Griffith Park & Southern Rail Road, which was awesome.

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And then Sam had another pony ride (shown above with first ride for my convenience). And then we made a quick stop at the Autry where he decided he had not had quite enough.

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And then we were done and we came home.

Next Door to The Happiest Place On Earth

Last night my family visited our first ever theme park. Will and I have both been to amusement parks (Six Flags or similar for both of us, and I spent a memorable day at Kennywood in Pittsburgh when I was 14) but neither of us has ever done Disney. Or Legoland or any of the other big ones.

Living about 25 miles from Disneyland, I’ve often thought that we really ought to take Sam. But even putting the considerable expense aside, I just wasn’t sure he’d enjoy it. He’s too small for a lot of rides, crowds freak him out, I didn’t know what he’d think of the life-size characters, and besides which I wasn’t sure we’d enjoy it.

Two weeks ago Briana asked if we’d like to go to California Adventure for their Trick Or Treat Party. She’d won free tickets but was going to be in Vancouver for work. After a moment’s panic we said yes. Even the parking was free, so we’d be out nothing but the gas to drive there. If Sam hated it, we could just turn around and go home.

This past weekend we went to the county fair. We’d been to two last year (LA and Garrett County, Maryland), and Sam’s opinion was mixed. This year, though, he LOVED it. He loved the rides, he loved the sights, he just loved everything. So I was feeling pretty good about our big adventure last night.

We ate an early dinner, drove down in rush hour traffic (ugh), and got there just as it was beginning to get dark out. We had a horror movie moment when we were the only car on the winding drive to the parking lot. I’m guessing there was another way in. Then we walked through Downtown Disney, which was totally surreal. Neither of us had any idea that there was an enormous mall between the parking lot and the parks. Honestly, neither of us had any idea what to expect, period. We finally found the entrances to Disneyland and California Adventure, and turned right to go into the latter.

By the way, every employee smiles at you. And most of them seem genuinely happy. I guess they’ve heard the tagline.

I have no idea how California Adventure came to be. Seriously, it is like the dumbest idea for a theme park ever. Let’s celebrate how awesome California is, IN CALIFORNIA! Come to the Hollywood Backlot, forty-five minutes away from Actual Hollywood! So dumb. And yet it totally works. I am absolutely the target audience for this place. We went on two rides, both of them Pixar. The Monsters, Inc. ride, which I loved (when you go through HarryHausen’s, it smells like sushi), and the Toy Story ride, which involves wearing 3D glasses and shooting stuff. The only downside to that one was that I had to sit where I couldn’t see Sam’s total joy (he was with Will). We wanted to go on the Soaring Over California ride, but Sam wouldn’t stand up straight to be measured so he didn’t make the minimum height (he’s right at 40 inches). Sam also played his first arcade game and WON. And there were trick-or-treat stations about every hundred feet, so we came home with three bags full of caaaaaaandy. We were there for about two hours and didn’t see anywhere close to everything, but we saw plenty to have a good time.

I don’t know how much of our enjoyment was based on the fact that we didn’t have to pay for anything. And I don’t just mean admission–the games and stuff were free too. Or how much of it is because the lines were really short for everything because it was a closed party, so only people with tickets in advance were in the park. Or heck, how much of it was just the universe aligning with us this week. (Seriously, we are having a great week.)

But really, I don’t care why it was awesome. It just was.

A little more adventure than we intended.

At approximately 7:42 this morning Will said sadly that he’d just realized we probably won’t be going back out to Vasquez Rocks until fall. You know, what with it being 1000° in the desert. I glanced at the weather forecast for Agua Dulce, California, and discovered that it was, at that moment, only 65°, with a high of 95°. Stopping only for the fastest shower, we dressed and piled into the car and were in the park before 9:30.

We took the easy trail across the park, and Sam turned right onto the main trail after a bit. He wanted to go to the potty, so we headed toward the nearest port-a-john. A little ways down the trail we saw a couple on horseback riding toward us. I pointed out the horses, a beautiful black pair, to Sam. As they got closer, the larger horse shied and turned away from us. Will picked Sam up onto his shoulders and we moved to the side of the trail. As the man tried to turn his horse, it seemed to panic and they both went over. The horse righted itself and ran off alone. For a moment I wondered why the woman didn’t ride after it, and then I realized that the man had not gotten up, and that Will was running toward him. He knelt down next to the man and I grabbed Sam off his shoulders so Will could help. The woman came over, holding her horse’s reins and looking scared. Will jumped up to hold her horse while she felt for her husband’s cell phone to call 911.

They’d gone over on some rock, and the man was unconscious or at least stunned. I have never seen anything so frightening. After a moment of total uncertainty I said I would go to the ranger station for help, and Sam and I set off down the path. I was nervous the whole way there, because I could hear the horse on the rocks nearby and it still sounded spooked. I was basically ready to throw Sam into the bushes, but it stayed away from us (as I should have expected). I was also nervous because, to be perfectly honest, I was not at all sure the man would be alive when we got back. (Spoiler: he was.)

We got the ranger and after I’d pointed out the trail to him I stopped long enough to get Sam (who was being SO patient) into the potty. Then we walked up the trail and met the ranger, the man (on his feet but with some blood on his arm and face) and Will, who was leading the woman’s horse while she went after the other one. Will had given the man water and his bandanna. Although he had some short term memory loss (no idea how he fell or that the horse fell with him, didn’t remember where his wife had gone) he seemed in much better shape than I would have imagined. We all met up in the parking lot and the paramedics arrived very shortly thereafter.

Two separate cars had stopped to help as well, a man and a woman. I believe they’d both seen the horse on the loose and known something was wrong. The man seemed to know the couple, and the woman was clearly a horse person herself, and gave them some medicated powder for the horse’s knees, which were all scraped up from the fall. Neither of them left until they were sure everyone was taken care of, and the neighborliness of it all was just lovely.

The paramedics looked at the man and determined that his head wound was superficial. He did not want to be checked out anyway, insisting that he was fine. His wife did insist that he let the ranger drive him home while she walked the horses. He kept telling her she couldn’t walk them both, which I thought was rather funny, though we did find out that the horse he fell with is notoriously skittish so it may have been more concern with her safety and less bravado, as it appeared to be. (I assumed, having observed her remarkable horse sense, that if it shied on the walk home she would let it go, take her horse home, and then go after it. Of course I have no idea, but that seemed about right to me.)

I can’t get over how calm and helpful Will was. Not that I ever thought he’d be anything else, but it’s different to actually see someone react in a crisis. He was great. Though we are short a bandanna now.

Save Our State Parks!

On Saturday Californians made a coordinated effort to protest the proposal to close 200 state parks to help with the budget crisis. (They have already cut funding for low income children’s health care and for shelter animals. Do not get me started.) We met up with some folks at Will Rogers State park for a picnic.




More photos after the cut.

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