Category Archives: Photo Blogs

Rising in a hot air balloon

This is the longer version of an article that will run on Friday, June 15th in the Press Democrat, and another version of the personal experience I wrote about in the blog article titled Up, Up, and Away.

Back in 1783, the very first passengers to fly in a hot air balloon were rather speechless about the experience. Of course, this was likely due to the fact that these inaugural airborne travelers weren’t human, but were in fact a duck, a sheep, and a rooster whose flight under a linen and paper balloon traveled two miles within 8 minutes, flying to an altitude of 1500 feet. However, in an age when traveling by air was something that only happened in dreams or stories, the adventure would have left most anyone tongue-tied.

While utilizing heat to make things fly has been traced back centuries in history, this primitive form of air travel for humans is attributed to brothers Joseph and Étienne Montgolfier. The idea was manifested years earlier as Joseph watched billowing laundry rise from the heat of the fire it was drying over, and was later mused upon as a military vessel during a tumultuous time of war. After many experiments of capturing heated air within different types of material and testing the theory with symbolically chosen animals, Étienne flew as the first human passenger in a tethered flight, paving the way to a new method of travel.

Once airplanes made an impact in the way of air travel, however, the novelty of hot air balloons began to wear thin. It wasn’t until the last 50 years when advancements reintroduced hot air balloons as a form of sailing through the air, making it one of the safest modes of aviation.

Today, hot air balloons serve as a large part of tourist attractions in areas where the scenery is exceptionally opulent. Sonoma County is one of those regions, cloaked with rows of leafy vineyards, acres of farmland, and a valley embraced by rolling hills and fair weather. As the temperatures escape the icy cold of winter in favor of cool spring mornings, it isn’t uncommon to see the dawn sky peppered with these colorful balloons.

Those wishing to ride up in a hot air balloon should be willing to get up before the sun, the time of day when the wind is at its most calm. Because balloon flights depend on weather conditions, there is always a chance that the flight will be cancelled and need to be rescheduled. Many balloon companies will call their passengers the night before to confirm the flight depending on the expected temperament of the weather, as well as to offer suggestions on how warm to dress.

Up & Away of Windsor holds their meeting place for those venturing a ride at the Sonoma County Airport in north Santa Rosa. The company has four balloons, one of which holds 10-12 people and one that is wheelchair accessible with room for two more passengers. The latter basket is the first of its kind in the United States, complete with a drop-side that doubles as a ramp meant to easily maneuver a wheelchair aboard. The side of the basket holds a see-through panel to reveal a clear view while up in the air.

As vibrant as the flight is itself, the pre-flight preparations are just as dazzling of a vision. The balloon crew brings the baskets out onto the ground, laying out the deflated balloon envelopes across tarps. An inflator fan is placed at the neck of the balloon, blowing in air to help it billow out properly. When it’s halfway filled, the burner is fired up and starts heating the air inside the balloon. This is when it’s apparent how large these balloons are, seeing the massive giants in comparison to their small surroundings, all as the sunrise casts orange rays against the colorful cloth.

Once filled completely, passengers make their way into the basket. At this point the balloon is firmly secured to ensure it won’t start floating away before everyone has found his or her place. But once ready, the lines are untied and the pilot fires up the burner.

The liftoff happens gradually, floating slowly against the ground before gaining momentum. Because the basket is rising into the air with its passengers, there is very little sense of altitude. However, those more sensitive to heights might feel a bit of flip-flopping in their stomach for the first several minutes of flight. Even Up & Away Ballooning’s owner and pilot Mike Kijak admitted to having a fear of heights despite his occupation. His open confession merely attested to the lessened sensation of elevation while rising 3,000 feet into the air.

Once drifting in the air, the view showcases a much wider horizon than anyone would be able to see from the ground. On a clear day in Santa Rosa, the view can extend from Napa to Bodega and Windsor to nearly Petaluma. The balloon travels with the air current, making the wind virtually unnoticeable. Below, fields of green vineyards stretch in perfect rows with large jackrabbits hopping quickly between the columns to escape the large vessel that looms overhead. On this recent journey, one balloon dipped down towards the vineyards, almost touching the leafy vines before floating back up. Another performed a “touch and go” above a large pond, the bottom of the basket skimming the water briefly before it rose again into the air. All four balloons made their way down the valley in a slow-moving race to the finish line.

It’s audibly quieter that high off the ground. Barking dogs, gobbling turkeys, and crooning peacocks echo from the ground in between blasts of hot air from the burner. As he flies, Pilot Kijak fills pockets of silence with stories that range from the history of ballooning to experiences he’s had in the past 20 years of being a balloon pilot. But often, he remains quiet to allow guests the opportunity to view the world unencumbered by interruptions. For many passengers, this will be their first view of Sonoma County, utilizing the experience as just a part of their vacation before traveling many miles back to where they live. In that, they see our county in a way many lifelong locals have never experienced.

An abandoned airstrip in southwest Santa Rosa is the end of the journey. On this trip, Pilot Kijak lowered the balloon expertly, but got caught in what’s called a “box wind”, a current of air that travels in the opposite direction of the air above. As a result, the balloon traveled backwards and away from the airstrip. To compensate, he brought the balloon back up and overshot the strip before lowering the balloon once again. This time the balloon caught hold of the box wind and traveled back to the airstrip where the chase crew was waiting. The landing was wonderfully uneventful, without even the hint of a bump as the crew grabbed hold of the basket and lowered it gently to the ground. They relieved the balloon of all its air before rolling it up and packing the balloon away.

Many of the local balloon companies in Sonoma County finish the adventure with a special brunch before sending their guests on their way. Up & Away serves a delicious homemade brunch made by Mike Kijak’s wife, Patty, of quiche, coffeecake, chocolate covered strawberries, and more, offered alongside mango mimosas on the beautiful grounds of Kendall Jackson Vineyards. The workers shed their tough exteriors to join in on the fun with guests and their coworkers. Many of the staff began working with Up & Away because a family member invited them.

“I just came to see the balloons,” Gaby Vargas, a balloon chaser and pilot told me as he shared the story of his cousin inviting him along for a ride. Ten years later, he is still showing up every day “just to see the balloons”, as well as to fly or chase them.

The adventure ends when the crew lifts their glasses and Pilot Kijak offers a traditional Irish blessing to all the passengers who rode in one of the four balloons that day.

“The winds have welcomed us with softness. The sun has blessed us with its warm hands. We have flown so high and so well that God has set us gently back into the loving arms of mother earth.”

A huge thank you to Up & Away Ballooning in Windsor for giving me this opportunity.

Up, up, and away!

This last weekend I got to go up in a hot air balloon. Like, up in the sky where if you fall, you will come crashing down to the ground and have zero chance of surviving.

This is pretty much what I was thinking as I waited to climb inside the basket.

Beyond that, I was actually really grateful for the experience. It was something that, while a bit scary, was still on my bucket list of things I wanted to do but probably never would. But thanks to a really cool job that allows for opportunities like these in the name of writing a good story, and thanks to the other writers having absolutely no interest in doing anything that might be life altering, I got to go up at no cost.

The meetup time at the Sonoma County Airport was to be at 6am, which means wake up time was at 4:45 in the morning all the way over in Petaluma. When my alarm went off, I had to remind myself over and over why I was getting up this early. And the jitters were starting to creep in under my excitement.

When I got there, the parking lot was starting to fill up with people. I began to feel a bit awkward since I was all by myself and everyone else had at least one other person with them. Believe it or not, I constantly have to fight through my shyness. I pushed forward and immediately spotted the owner, Mike. We shook hands and he directed me to the van I would be driven in to get to where we would lift off. I took a bathroom break beforehand since we were going to be away from one for 3 hours, and I crossed my fingers that the “movement” gods would be kind to my system today.

At the air strip, the crew set forth to unfurl the balloons. Many of us watched as they got to work, some actually pitched in to help out. I stood back with my camera and took a ton of photos. The early lighting of the morning against the bright colors of the balloons made for spectacular photos and I wanted to be sure to capture it all.

I was told that the basket I was flying was the only wheelchair accessible hot air balloon in the United States, and the 4th of its kind in the world. I thought that was kind of neat. One of the passengers was in a wheelchair, and I rode with him and his wife in a balloon flown by Mike. We all watched as one of the balloons lifted off. And then ours started to move. It was slow at first, but then it started going up rapidly.

I was told beforehand that I would barely feel anything as the balloon rose. This was a lie. As soon as we started to elevate, my legs started to get really shaky and I felt my stomach drop. I looked outside, and the whole ground seemed to want to swallow us up. It was such a large view I had to turn my back against the siderail and focus on the inside of the basket. I was afraid I was going to get sick, though it was comforting to know I had a whole entire world below to throw up on.

Luckily, this feeling only lasted about 10 minutes. My teeth and legs stopped chattering, and soon I was enjoying the view just like my basketmates. We flew over beautiful vineyards, the view expanding all the way from Windsor, to Bodega, to Napa, to Petaluma. It was seriously magnificent. And the beauty was enhanced by the cool air and rising sun. Everything was cast in a golden glow as we floated over the earth, dipping and floating in an ebb and flow.

Speaking of cold, it really wasn’t. I mean, it was as cool as morning would be, but it wasn’t freezing. And as we rose, it did get a little warmer. Hot air balloons follow the wind currents, so it does not get windy when you’re up in the air. And it helps to have the burners right above giving off a bit of heat.

When we reached our destination of a retired air strip, Mike lowered the basket. But we got caught up in a “box wind”, moving us back a bit. We had to go back up and overshoot the landing space so that the box wind would catch us and bring us back. The landing was barely a bump and without incident. And while I loved the ride, I couldn’t help but be grateful to have landed on the ground.

The morning ended at Kendall Jackson where Mike’s wife treated us to quiche and coffee cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and various other bites to eat and delicious mimosas to wash it all down. Mike read us off a blessing and sent us on our way.

I was asked by several people if it was something I would ever do again in my life.  I think I would.  It would really be neat to experience this with my family or a group of friends.  And there really is no substitute for that kind of bird’s eye view of our beautiful wine country.

A huge thank you to Up & Away Ballooning in Windsor for giving me this opportunity.  If any of you ever want to go up in a hot air balloon, I could not recommend them more.  The whole crew was absolutely amazing and really personable.  Many of them even got their family members to join the Up & Away family, really enhancing it as a family business. 

I will be writing the official story for the Press Democrat, and it will publish in the June 15th Entertaimment section. Look for it then! (Or read the longer version HERE)  In the meantime, here are some of my favorite photos of the morning. You can see the rest at http://bit.ly/M3ZSHb.

 

Picking out a live tree

With all this talk about Christmas Tree farms suffering this season, I thought I’d share my own story of picking out a tree.

When I had lived on my own, I’d succumbed to the plastic tree, saving money with a $20 midget tree we used year after year.  Every time we took it out of the box, the limbs looked a little worse for wear.  But with a little bending and prodding, as well as some strategically placed ornaments, it passed as an acceptable Charlie Brown tree.  When the pre-lit lights started burning out, I compensated by throwing a few more strands over it.  But when we moved into Mr. W’s house, I gratefully placed the tree on the curb to offer to any passerby who wished to become its owner.

But I admit it.  I liked the plastic tree.  It was less hassle.  I already owned it.  There was no pine needle mess, or stray spider nest to hatch in my home.  And while it drooped a little more each year, I was willing to pretend it looked like a real tree.  Sort of.  Needless to say, when we started our holiday planning, I talked up the artificial tree to Mr. W so well that he was sold on it as well.  We started looking through the ads for a quality tree at the right price.

“Wait.  What?” Mr. W’s son asked, suddenly tuning into our conversation.  At 16 years old, it had seemed he’d outgrown the Christmas Tree farm tradition the two of them had held for years.  Previous years, they had always visited the farm to choose a tree they deemed perfect, enjoy a cup of apple cider, and then pick an ornament to hang on the tree before heading home.  But, as most teens are wont to do, it appeared he’d grown bored with the idea.  Even when we’d initially told him of our plans to choose an artificial tree, he barely registered a reaction.  But sitting at the dinner table with us as we discussed buying our fake tree, he took a sudden note of interest.  And my own two kids chimed in as well, voicing their opposition to buying a fake tree.

“But think of the environment,” I squeaked, to which I was quickly overruled by better arguments to my defense.  Trees sold in parking lots would be cut down whether we bought them or not.  Disposing of an artificial tree is worse for the environment than disposing of a real tree.  So is creating one.  It’s good for our local farms.  The kids rattled off reason after reason as to why we should be buying a real tree instead of a fake tree until even I couldn’t help but admit Christmas just isn’t Christmas until the house is filled with the scent of pine.

So Sunday, we took off for Liberty Christmas Tree Farm at 241 Liberty Rd in Petaluma.

Here’s our day, in photos:

First thing you need when you go to chop down your own tree is a sturdy cart and a good saw.  

You also need a sturdy kid to pull the sturdy cart.  Thankfully, we brought the Taz.

Looking for a tree can be a really tiring experience.  I think we saw at least 10 “perfect” trees we were forced to abandon because one of us decided it just wasn’t perfect enough.  This brings me to the next reason why it’s important to bring the kids – child labor.

Ahhh….  That’s better.

When choosing a tree, it’s good to remember that the smaller the trunk, the easier it is to bring down.  Of course, this one got vetoed by the kids.  I don’t know why they got a vote, though.  It’s not like they were cutting it down….

Great job on pulling that cart, Taz.

Oh yeah, we did make the kids cut it down.  After all, that’s why they came, right?

Finally, a tree we could all agree on!

If you take anything from our goofy story, take this – if the tree farm you go to offers to shake out your tree, TAKE THEM UP ON IT.  This not only loosens any dead needles, it also makes sure all living creatures burns off a little fat, kind of like those belted shaking machines from the 80’s.  Oh, and it encourages them to vacate the premises, as well as any nests they may have laid within the branches.  Trust me.  I have lived through a Christmas of baby spiders. It wasn’t pretty.

Finally, a cold day of hunting for the perfect tree deserves a cup of hot apple cider.  Yum!

And now our house smells absolutely wonderful.  🙂  And yes, we do use a Care Bear to top our tree.  What?

Liberty Tree Farm is located at 241 Liberty Rd in Petaluma.  They sell all of their trees at one price, regardless of size.  Monterey Pines and Sierra Redwoods are $42.99, Douglas Firs are $49.99.   They offer tree shaking and netting for an additional $3 each.  Their apple cider is free, and they sell ornaments on site.  They’re open from 9am to 5pm every weekend.  Contact them at 490-6011, or visit their website at libertychristmastreefarm.com.

Anyone else buying from a farm this year?

Fair Endings – photo gallery

If you haven’t been to the fair yet, and by now I’m sure that’s a very small percentage, you only have a few more days to do so.  My family went on Thursday when the kids got in free.  Somehow, I managed to talk them out of going on the rides, and instead we focused on the Livestock Area, the Hall of Flowers, and the Grace Pavillion.  And, of course, we couldn’t miss a chance to eat some scrumptious fair food.  Note:  did you read Heather’s article when they did the Fair Food Scramble?  Everything they said about the Pork Slyders at Johnny Garlic’s is true.  Total Yum.

A couple things you won’t want to miss:

There are baby animals at the Livestock Barns!  If you need your fill on cute, that’s where to get it.  Our favorite stop was with the baby pigs.  You have not experienced cute until you’ve seen a bunch of “Babes” running circles around their ma – or in our case, sleeping underneath one gregarious oinker-let.

Foot massage chairs.  Be warned, there seems to be a lot of kids circling around these chairs like vultures, ready to take it over as soon as someone leaves.  You have to be quicker than them.  But once you’ve pushed them out of the way and sat down, it’s so worth it.  These are the next best thing to actually getting a foot massage.

The Hall of Flowers.  They sectioned off the building to show different parts of the county.  And some of the displays this year were the best I’ve ever seen.  I especially love Bennett Valley’s display (I’m a bit biased, being a BV girl at heart), the way they scattered lavendar among all the flowers, just like the Matanzas Creek Winery.

Useless crud for sale in the Grace Pavillion.  I am now the proud owner of face lotion and peppermint foot cream.  I probably could have lived without them, but man those girls were great at making me believe I couldn’t.  $40 later, and I am moisturized.  Even the kids got swept up.  DQ now owns a pair of balls on a rope that you can clack together.  And the Taz, get this, bought MONEY with money. 

And because a picture’s worth a thousand words (and I’ve already given you almost 400), here’s a brief photo montage of our day at the fair.

Battling for Checkmate

In the world of ranks, files, and black and white pieces, chess is making a strong comeback. This was more than apparent at Strawberry School on May 1st where young players met for duel, a queen and her men as their weapons, for the 2nd Annual Countywide Chess Tournament. Hosted by Chess for Kids, 126 kids from 50 different schools came together to try their odds to be the best of the best at this European game. And after numerous games, the winners were unveiled and awarded a trophy and medal.

(photos courtesy of Steve Aja Photography)

Here is a list of the 1st place winners:

Austin Creek: Kyle Wu
Brookhaven: Jeremy Gleaves
CAVA: Jacob Crowhurts
Corona Creek: Adrian Gonzalez
Evergreen: Matthew Wilkin
Grant School: David Yee
Guerneville: Sam Kenny
Healdsburg Jr. High: Travis Williams
Hidden Valley Elementary School: John Burns & Edward Deng
Hidden Valley Satellite School: Rohit Gopalakrishnan & Anib Pravin
Homeschool: Heather Rainbow
Instilling Goodness: Cris Rhan & Anika Daniel
Liberty: Ethan Shahbazian
Mountain Shadows Middle School: Adam Koziol
Oak Grove: Erik Carver
Penngrove: Adam Kane
Pinecrest: Aiden Rameriz
Santa Rosa Charter for the Arts: Emil Guzman
Schaefer: Zack Schieberl, Christopher Martinez & Ryan Le
Sebastopol Independent Charter School: Liev Haroxche
Slater: Tyler Hale & Alexander March
St. Eugenes: Creighton Anderson-Soria, Monica Wishard & Amy Hulsman
Strawberry School: Aaron Thompson
Village Elementary: Noah Weiss & John Diez
Yulupa: Anahita Jensen & Andrew Gao

Easter Photo Blog

Here are a few of the photos from our Easter.  Be sure to check out the Photo Albums at SantaRosaMom.com for more Easter photos, or add your own if you haven’t done so already!

Before coloring eggs, we had the kids help out with filling Easter eggs for the younger kids to be able to find in an Easter Egg hunt in the living room (thanks, rain).  Afterwards, we filled special eggs for the grown-ups, prized for our first annual family trivia night where the adults would compete for the most eggs that held chocolate and dollar coins.  The questions that were asked had to do with family history, current events, pop culture, and other random trivia. 

Then it was on to coloring eggs!  We decided to skip using crayons to make markings on the eggs this year, as we were more interested in making eggs interesting colors.  We just used regular food coloring since I believe it works way better than egg dyeing kits.  I did find, however, that the neon dyes didn’t seem to work as well as the regular color food dyes.  But they still made pretty colors.

Ok, you guys did see the spoons that I had provided in one of the previous photos, right?  Why, then, did my kids insist on using their fingers???  Their fingers are still colored…

There we go.  That’s what spoons are for.

One very pretty egg, and a very colorful hand.

Our masterpieces.

(More of our Easter photos are available at SantaRosaMom.com.)

How was your Easter?

When kids drive you crazy

Yesterday was a busy day of laundry and cleaning. Not only did it need to be done, but I am expecting the landlord to come by today for our annual inspection to make sure that our apartment is still intact and that we aren’t housing any pets like dogs or the regular city sewage rat. Thankfully, we have neither. Children are enough of a necessary hassle to be tended to without adding an animal to the mix. And this was even more apparent when I heard something drop to the floor in the bathroom, and an “oops” out of my daughter. She rushed into the kitchen and grabbed some paper towels, and then disappeared around the corner.

“Everything ok?” I asked her.

“Um, fine,” she said. “Except I might have spilled some nail polish on the floor…” Engrossed in my work, I told her to just use some of the nail polish remover on the linoleum. “Uh, ok,” she said. “But it’s not coming out of the carpet.” I immediately stopped what I was doing and checked the damage. There were three noticeably black stains on the carpet, and spatters of paint on the linoleum and against the wooden door. Apparently a manicure for my daughter includes black nail polish. We worked together at the mess, only to leave a lightened color of black on all three surfaces. It wasn’t coming up no matter what we chose to do. And it was all done in time for the apartment manager to take note of. Freaking out wouldn’t even have helped the situation, so I just told her what was done, was done. And I advised her that manicures should probably be done on the front porch.

That evening, I loaded the last load of the day into the washer and then joined my son in my room as he messed with my Mac computer that has been lying in a corner thanks to a “Kernel Panic” message that had rendered it as useful as a doorstop. But my son was determined that he could fix it. After all, he had fixed his friend’s computer.

“How did you fix it?” I asked him, wondering if maybe my son was a computer genius and I didn’t even know.

Warning: Please skip the next two paragraphs and continue on to the main point of this story if technical stuff bores the heck out of you.

“I pressed every single button on it at the same time, and it worked again.” Yes. My son is a genius. “Maybe if I do that to this computer, it will work again too.” Being that I had basically given up this computer for dead long ago, having said my final farewells to all the writing and music that was held prisoner in the machine, I didn’t see what the harm was. I was brushing my teeth when he called me, excitedly. “Mom! It worked!” I raced back into the room, and sure enough he had gotten past the error message and was now at a screen that required my password. I typed it in, and my old familiar desktop appeared before me. Did I mention my kid’s a genius? And to think that I was actually musing about spending hundreds of dollars to fix it and retrieve all my files. Apparently all it needed was to have every single button pressed at the same time. Now that is tech support at its finest. We fiddled with the machine for a little while before realizing that we couldn’t access the internet. And the iTunes songs wouldn’t play. In fact, the volume seemed to be permanently on Mute. And the year on the machine was set to 1969. Now for those of you that really are techies, you probably already guessed what happened. My son had managed to enter into the computer via “Safe Mode”. So I restarted the computer to see if I could now enter it in the regular fashion. No dice. The “Kernel Panic” error message popped up again. The Taz suggested that we try pressing every single button again, but I was determined to find out what exactly needed to be pressed to get back in “Safe Mode”, and then what I needed to do once I was there so that my computer would work again.

I needed to send the Taz to bed before I could actually figure it out. But I did find out, and will share it with those of you who might be having Mac problems as well. To get into “Safe Mode” on a Mac, all you have to do is press “Shift” after the Start-Up sound is heard, and then hold it until the Apple on the grey screen pops up with the process wheel. You’ve gotta love the simplicity of Macs. At any rate, this is what is supposed to happen. Unfortunately, all that happened on mine is that it would take a really long time to load, and then would get hung up on something and shut itself off. So I researched some more and found a bunch of useful Mac shortcuts at guides.macrumors.com/keyboard_shortcuts. Among the shortcuts were a bunch to use at the start-up. One of them was to reset the PRAM, holding down command-option-P-R, and to continue holding all four keys until the second start up sound chimes. What this did was reset the video and display settings, time zone settings, volume settings, and, of course, recent kernel panic messages that had occurred. And then the computer started up again. Of course, it was still in “Safe Mode”, but now I could go through the computer and find the exact program that was bogging up my system, delete it, and be able to access my computer in regular mode again.

Now on with our story.

Pleased with myself, and with my son for giving me a clue to this puzzle, I went back downstairs to throw the clothes in the dryer and finally go to bed. But what I saw made me stop in my tracks. It appeared that the laundry detergent had exploded all over the dryer and was creating a nice blue lake on the floor, dripping in a slow moving waterfall from the top of the machine. I quickly moved the detergent bottle, to the bathroom and started sopping up the mess. It was amazing how much detergent had spilled out of the practically full bottle. And detergent is near impossible to clean up. It had traveled under the dryer, and every time I thought I had wiped it all up, it would seep out even more from underneath. A glance back at the bottle proved that the detergent wasn’t quite done escaping. There was now detergent all over my bathroom sink.

I thought that maybe I hadn’t shut the valve all the way, and I laid it on its side to prevent any more leakage. But now it was apparent that there must be a breakage in the bottle itself. I inspected the whole thing, looking for a weak spot that I hadn’t seen before, and I couldn’t see anything at first. But a second glance over, and that’s when I saw it.

It was barely noticeable at all, but on the lower corner of the bottle was a tiny hole, just big enough, apparently, to send out a steady stream of blue, sticky detergent. And that’s when I remembered seeing something else near the dryer in recent days.

A tack. I have no idea where this came from, or what it’s for. But it seemed to be the perfect size for a small tiny hole punched into the bottom of a brand new bottle of laundry detergent.

Yup, seems to be the right size.

It’s a match!

There was only one guess as to who was responsible for this.

I asked him about it the next day. And he swore he had no idea what I was talking about. But after much pressing, and a little reminder about trust, he finally fessed up and gave me a detailed description about how he had thought it was a fun idea to see if he could punch the tack through the thick plastic of the laundry detergent bottle.

Kids.

This is the perfect segue to mention the Challenge that I will be starting in the month of April. If you remember, March was the month when we gave up something for a whole 30 days. April, I promise, is way easier. This next month is dedicated to our kids, or rather, the things our kids do that drive us crazy. Not only do I want stories, I want photos too. I want pictures of the toothpaste overflowing onto the counter, the clothes left in a heap right next to the hamper, the dirty faces and clothes after a hard day of playing, the footprints on your clean floor… All of you have some sort of story about the shenanigans your kids have pulled, and we all want to hear them. So come on over to Santa Rosa Mom and share your battle scars in the forums.

In the meantime, I have more detergent creeping out from under my dryer, and the landlord is due any time now.