Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Wild and Wonderful Birthday

The party is over. The mess is cleaned up. Our girl is officially 4. Where does the time go? Emily is in a phase where she wants us to tell her what she was like as a baby. David and I will tell her stories and she always listens intently. It makes me a bit sad as I know in the blink of an eye she will be heading off to college. We had a great time today. I think the party was a huge success. We had several people drive up from Phoenix, and it was so great to spend the day with friends and family. It's time to go relax as we are all completely exhausted.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

David's Grammie

David's Grammie passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90, a few months short of her 91st birthday. She had Alzheimer's for several years and suffered a stroke on Monday. I had met her twice. Her memory was already starting to go when I saw her the first time in Quebec in 2004 before Emily was born. She knew who David was, but she needed reminding about other things. Such as, David and Alisa lived with her when they went to college. The second time I saw her, Emily was almost a year old and we all went to Nova Scotia as Grammie was living with Auntie Barb. She didn't really remember David much. Her health was still pretty good at the time which just makes everything that much harder. You could tell she would struggle in her mind to try to recall something. When we left after this visit, David knew that he wouldn't see his Gram again. David sent me an e-mail yesterday and I loved what he wrote about her. Since he knew her and I really didn't, I thought I would include his words:

As I said yesterday, she did not always nurture with words and was not very "touchy feely", but she was an upstanding individual, very "straight laced", high morals, of humble means and wants, responsible in every way, was quiet and therefore never let her mouth and temper get the better of her, and was very giving and caring in her way. She one time told me that the worst thing she remembered doing to another, was in grade school, she told a kid who was pestering her that she was going to "throw a bean" at him. She laughed about that story when she told it to me, but to this day, I really believe her. It was not in her character to be mean; she was never mean. I know she made no enemies in her life. She surely made an impact on my life, giving me a glimpse into the past, and what I imagine people were like who lived in times when my grandmother was in her prime. She was not at all anything like the "crop" of people we so often meet nowadays. I will miss her strength of character, her integrity and moral uprightness. What she took with her when she died is exactly what the world needs more of. I believe she lead a good life, lacked nothing, and died with no regrets for things left undone. Of course, her mind had left her some years ago, but I believe she would have agreed that there was nothing more she would have wanted to accomplish. Hers was a complete life.

I know I will see her again in my Lord, God's presence...there will be no tears, no unhappy times, no suffering, no decrease or dimishment of person or life. Only abundant life- life everlasting.

We love you Grammie.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Than One Way To Skin A...Rabbit?

It was May 15, 2003 and I was at work at my Dad's Texaco. Someone came in and said there was a strange noise outside. It was a tiny kitten that somebody had thrown in the bushes. He was an orange tabby and I fell in love immediately. I called David and asked if we could keep him. He said yes and that's how we got our first pet. We tried to keep Max as an indoor cat. David was fearful something would happen to him. So was I, but you can't cage a bird. It was quickly evident that Max needed to go outside. He'd keep us up all hours of the night. Finally, we gave in and let him spread his wings so to speak. When we lived in Phoenix, he would go out during the night and come home to sleep during the day. Since moving to Prescott Valley, our beloved Max has almost abandoned us. We didn't see him the first 10 days that we moved up here and he did another week long disappearance after our trip to Idaho in June. We leave food outside and he comes and goes as he pleases. He only wants to come in if it's raining. We live in a rather rural area still and we often find presents that he brings home for us, mice, birds and his favorite are baby cottontail rabbits.

This morning, David woke me up at 7:35. I didn't even make it to the restroom before Emily came running up with a story. And, my day begins... She told me there was a rabbit by the table who lost it's skin and he's still alive. What? She dragged me by the hand and told me I had to come see it. Lovely, this will make for a pleasant wake up call. Sure enough, Max got another baby bunny. He somehow managed to rip off almost all of it's skin and fur on his back. The skinned part with fur is sitting a few feet away from the bunny. Fantastic. I don't know why he left him there without killing him. That's unlike Max. Maybe the bunny went into shock and the challenge was over for our little feline. What am I supposed to do now? This poor thing is still alive. Do I wait for it to die like a science experiment? I doubt I could save him. I don't think some neosporin will quite do it for this little guy. I need to think of something quick because my father-in-law has been saying he wants to find a bunny for stew.

***Bunny Update*** I called 6 different people who apparently do wildlife rescue. I basically was told that the bunny will die. He was probably injured more than what we can see, as if what we can see isn't enough to kill him. They also said if my cat got him chances are he may have had a hurt leg or something to begin with. Uh, they don't know my cat. He doesn't need an advantage. I ended up bringing him to our vet. They said the Dr. would look at him when he got a chance and if it was best, they would put him to sleep to end his misery. Emily just woke up from her nap and wanted to know what happened to the bunny. I told her I took it to the Dr. She was mad and said, "Why didn't you just put ice on it?" Ice, the magic cure all. If it were only that easy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gotta Love A Desert Sunset

There is nothing quite like a sunrise or sunset out here in Arizona. I may only see one sunrise a year, but I see the sunset almost every night. This is monsoon season which brings a lot of clouds and thunderstorms. Tonight as the sun set and a storm moved in the sky was the most brillant colors of orange and pink. I called everyone out to see it as sometimes you just have to stop for a moment and marvel at the beauty of our world. I quickly grabbed the camera and started taking pictures of my kids with the sunset as the backround. It doesn't get more beautiful than that, at least for me anyway. As Forest Gump said, "Then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It was so beautiful". I couldn't agree more.

**This was not a nude photo shoot. :o) The kids had just finished playing in the sprinklers and were in their underwear.**

Monday, August 25, 2008

Miss Manipulator

Is this the face of a master manipulator in the making? (Say that 5 times fast). My daughter is becoming very proficient in the art of manipulation. By definition it means, shrewd or devious management, especially for one's own advantage. That is her completely. She does this all day long. Usually poor unsuspecting Ben is her target. If he's playing with something that she wants. She will try to make her toy seem like the best and say, "Here Ben, you can have mine." Then she grabs whatever he had. It's actually an art and rather amusing to watch. However, I'm starting to realize that David and I are on the receiving end of this manipulation as well. She often tells me when asking for something, "Daddy said yes" and vice versa. When no such "yes" was spoken. Last night she came out of her room after we put her to bed. This happens often. We used to lock her in, but she knows how to unlock a door now. She came in our bedroom and said, "Ben isn't in his room". She knows she is not supposed to go in Ben's room at night. At least she didn't wake him up. So, David checked on Ben who was buried under a bunch of covers and put Emily in her bed. She asked him if he would sleep with her. He told her no and that she'd get a spanking if she came out of her room again. It was quiet the rest of the night, so we assumed that the threat of a spanking was enough to make her stay in her room. Nope. David got up today and she's in Grampie's bed. She got exactly what she wanted. She got company and she didn't get a spanking. She's always done this. I remember when she was 2 1/2 and David and I went out for New Years Eve. We came home and her and my Mom were watching a Neil Diamond Rockin' New Year at 1 AM! Meanwhile, Ben is always sound asleep in his own bed restoring his energy for the manipulations that await him the next day.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seriously, Why Do I Bother?

My father-in-law, Enrique, is coming in tonight for 2 weeks. We all look forward to his visits. He usually comes about twice a year. David took Emily with him to the airport. She's the better traveler at this point and she took a nap today unlike her brother who insists, "I no take no nap!" Apparently, after spending about 900 days here on Earth, he knows more than I do. David and Emily left around 5:00 tonight and Enrique's delayed flight was due to arrive around 8:00. They left a little early to do some shopping at one of beloved and very missed stores in Phoenix, Trader Joes. We miss their salsa and carmel corn. I put cartoons on for Ben and I spent the last 4 hours cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. Why do I do this? Seriously, Enrique isn't planning on eating off my floor and he isn't going around the house with a white glove. Why did I just kill myself and ignore my son just to get the house spotless? It won't look like this again for the entire two weeks he is here. It won't even look like this past 7:00 tomorrow morning. I do it every time David's Mom or Dad comes to visit. I don't bother with my folks though. My Mom was just here for a few weeks and I didn't even think twice about cleaning up before she got here. Why is that? I know Enrique and Gwynne don't care if the house is spotless nor will they think any differently of me if it's a little dirty. The house is never a complete mess. It's usually littered with toys which takes a few minutes to put away at the end of the day. Other than that, I'm pretty good about keeping it up to an acceptable level. I'm never embarrassed if somebody was to stop by unexpected and that to me is acceptable. Still, when my in-laws come, I'm like a mad woman with the bleach and pine sol. Speaking of which, I just starting using a mix of half vinegar and half distilled water and it is the best all purpose cleaner around. It does windows, sinks, anything. I love it and it's good for the environment not to mention it's cheap. I think I just figured it out why I go on a cleaning spree. My in-laws motivate me. It's a reason to get the floors scrubbed and the windows shined up. And sometimes all we need is a little push.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Day At The Zoo

No, not my house. We actually went to the zoo today with the Mom group. There is one very small, but nice, zoo in our town. It consists only of animals that are incapacitated and rescued from the wild or from inappropriate captive situations. It takes about an hour to see all the animals which is just enough time for a 2 and 3 year old. We usually pack a lunch and play at the playground also, but we had to leave early today as Emily had a well visit at the Doctor. The kids favorite animal changes each visit. Usually they love the huge black bear. He gets fed in the morning and it's so much fun to watch him eat his breakfast. He's very meticulous and will even peel an orange. The kids today were all about the pigs. We were the first visitors today. It seemed each animal that we went to see was happy to see us and would come to the front of their enclosure to say hello. Maybe I give them too much credit and they just wanted to see if anybody was edible. In any case, the kids had a great time, nobody got eaten and we got an up close and personal view of a lot of the animals.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Creating Impatient Monsters?

When David and I got married, we knew we wanted kids. We were blessed with Emily and Ben right away. I always fantasized about how my kids would be. They'd have David's great smile. His ability to write well. My love of numbers. Davids legs. My boobs (Emily at least). My sense of humor; hence the previous comment. They'd be these wonderfully perfect little people. What I didn't fantasize about was the flaws within myself that I'd pass on to my children. I've never been a breezy, fly by the seat of my pants kind of person. I'd LOVE to be and I admire people who can be like that. I'm overly structured and organized. I'm always 5 minutes early. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I'm impatient. Since having kids, I've learned that some of these things can be a positive and negative. But one of my biggest flaws, which I can clearly see that my kids are developing, is my lack of patience.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Ben wanted to watch a particular episode of The Backyardigans this morning. I told him that we didn't have that episode Tivo'd. He'd have to watch a different episode. He had a fit. I asked him, "What do you want me to do? Wiggle my nose and blink my eyes and your show will appear." To which he replied a very simple "yes". Like it's that easy. In reality though, that's how things are. We were watching Charlotte's Web not long ago and they liked the song from Sarah MacLachlan called "Ordinary Miracle". I liked it too. So, we went to the computer, charged the 99 cents from I-tunes on our credit card and we had it for our drive to school the next day. I had to scold Emily again today for picking a tomato off the vine while it was still green. Her rebuttal was, "I want it to be red now!" I take a picture or video and they want to see it right away. What happened to waiting a month until the film got developed? Emily didn't even know what a commercial was until a few months ago. We really only watch shows that are Tivo'd, so she had never seen a commercial. They made quite an impression on her when she told me the next day that "Commercials stink." That's my girl. I couldn't agree more.

So, what do I do? Chuck it all and live like a Quaker? No way. Hopefully, if I instill enough good qualities it will surpass the few negatives that may creep up. After all, nobody is perfect, not even my precious little monsters.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We're Ready for the 2020 Olympics

Emily had her first party celebrating the big 4 on Saturday. Her birthday is on August 30th and we are having a family party on that day. She and three other kids in our Mom group all had a birthday within 2 weeks of each other, so we lumped everybody together and had a party. We rented the gymnastics arena at the YMCA. Oh my gosh, it was a great time. The kids got to play for an hour and they had 2 instructors on hand to help us out. Then we broke for cake and a much needed drink and we all hit the floor again. They had a long trampoline, balance beam, uneven bars, pommel horse, rope swing, rings and an obstacle course. It was a blast. David and I were the only "adults" who tried any of it. I did the rings a few times and some somersaults on the uneven bars. David and I both did the rope swing. I wonder why none of the other adults would do it? Maybe we looked foolish. I don't really care though. I wonder at what age I will see stuff like this and not want to (or be able to) participate. I hope never.

I'm posting mainly videos because the kids were moving too fast for my camera in most of the shots. I think we need to get a better camera and Emily can have our current camera to pursue her passion for photography. I couldn't decide which videos I like the best, so I'm posting almost all of them!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Like Sister, Like Brother

This is one of Emily's favorite things. Her Dad throws her in the air and she loves it. She always wants to do it again and go higher. She has quite the sense of adventure. I love that about her. Ben is usually our quiet reserved child. He's happy to sit on the sidelines and watch his sister be thrown in the air like a college cheerleader. I guess too much time watching has created a monster. He now asks David every night to "jump me Daddy". David will throw him in the air until he physically can't do it anymore (David that is, not Ben). Our little man does have an adventurous side to him after all it just takes a little time for him to come around. Now, I'm the one left on the sidelines watching them and hoping David doesn't miss. So far so good. Hey, maybe I'll be next!

It's a pumpkin!!!

The mystery plant has finally revealed it's identity. It is indeed a pumpkin. It doesn't look very big in the picture, but it's about the size of a basketball and it's starting to turn orange by the stem. I hope this process takes awhile or we will have a pumpkin in September. I don't think I will eat the pumpkin. I will have him fulfill his Halloween destiny and become a Jack-O-Lantern.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Crazy Afternoon

It was supposed to be a fun filled Sunday. We were going to a luau at our church in the afternoon. We spent the morning relaxing around the house. We got everyone ready for the luau and went to load up in the van. Our garage door wouldn't open. It was completely stuck. We tripped the manual lever and it still wouldn't move. What? We worked on it for about 15 minutes and could not get the door open. David and I were getting frustrated, so he suggested the kids and I go with my Mom in her car and he would stay and try to get the door opened. I didn't want to go without David, but I realized we were in the way more than we were helping. So off we went. We get to the church and they have some inflatables. Emily and Ben see the big water slide and can't wait to go on it. The line took more than 20 minutes. We get to the front and the lady says Ben is too short. Are you kidding me? So, Emily goes down and from the video you can see that she had a good time. She wanted to go again, but I wasn't about to wait another 20 minutes. Ben was crying because he wanted to go down. I felt so bad for him. That was a bust. We were going to try another inflatable obstacle house, but the line was even longer. Forget it. We went to the area that had some horses and games and the kids had a good time there. We also got a balloon airplane and dog made for us from a clown that freaked out Ben. We left after an hour.

David finally did manage to get the door manually open. It still won't work properly, but at least we can get our cars out. Luckily, we have a 5 year warranty on it, so hopefully, this won't turn into a headache. Somehow, it always seems to. This video is great. I love how she does a flip at the end. You can hear Ben saying he wants to try it. My poor little man.

A Lesson Learned

My cousin, Denise, is in Aruba for a few days with her Mom for a wedding. Lucky girls. On Friday, I watched both of Denise's kids. Stella came over in the morning while Jude was in school. I realized that I haven't babysat in years. The kids quickly started playing and the house looked like a tornado hit in a matter of minutes. Ben was a little bummed about Jude not being there. The girls were playing with dolls and Ben came walking down the hallway sulking. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, "I miss Jude so much." It was adorable. He felt a little left out with all the dress up, dolls and barbie stuff going on.

The first lesson that I learned is that what I consider child proofed for my kids does not apply to other children. I walked in Emily's room and Stella was slathering Emily's lotion into her hair. I'm talking like 5 or 6 pumps of lotion. My kids know not to mess with it. Stella thought it was just something else to play with. Then, about 20 minutes later, the girls are in my bedroom and Stella found some more lotion. She's rubbing it on her belly and is a complete mess. She's too funny. The girl likes lotion. Okay, so next time I will go through the house and put away any potential disasters beforehand.

My Mom decided to come up and stay with us for a week or so. She said she'd be here in time for me to go get Jude from school. The original plan was that I would just take Ben and my Mom would watch the girls. Of course, they all wanted to come. So, we all pile in the mini-van. I didn't bother with shoes for the kids as I was just planning on hoping out to get Jude and leaving the kids and my Mom in the car. Lesson #2...always bring shoes! On our way home, we went to turn into our housing development. There is only one rode in and the same rode out. Well, there is an accident. There were probably a dozen police, ambulance and fire trucks that came. The road was closed. Now what? The kids have no shoes. We ended up going to K-mart and buying flip flops and walking around there for an hour. Luckily it opened up by the time we got back. It's been known to be closed for up to 4 hours when there is an accident.

Lessons learned...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Photographer In The Making

I can't remember when I held a camera for the first time and took a photo. I imagine I was probably a teenager. Back in those days, my parents would never let me touch the camera in fear of wasting precious 35 MM film. I can imagine how mad my Dad and Mom would've been if they got a roll of film processed for $5 only to find that I used half the roll to take pictures of the TV and my bedroom. I probably would've gotten grounded if they had ordered doubles! Times have obviously changed. It is not unusual for Emily to find the camera weekly and start taking pictures. She knows how to turn it on and she goes to town. We don't want her to play with the camera in case she breaks it. Case in point when she took 8 photos of the toilet bowl. Imagine if she would've dropped it in. I sometimes don't even know she has it until I see what I think is lighting and I realize it's the flash. She will climb on chairs and the desk to find the camera. She simply loves to take pictures. She one time racked up 132 photos before I knew what she was doing. I had to delete them one by one as I had 3 pictures on there that I wanted to keep. I was angry that time. No matter how many times we take it away or how many times we tell her no, she seems to pursue her passion for photography. She actually takes decent ones sometimes. I imagine when our current camera is extremely outdated in a few years, we will give her that one and buy ourselves a new one. In the meantime, she will have to sneak the camera and take her pictures. Here are a few from her latest round.

She even let Ben in on the action after he started crying (see pic above).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Fun Filled Day

Some great friends from Phoenix have property in Sedona. Sedona is one of the most beautiful spots in Arizona. It's best known for it's red rock mountains. Literally, everything is red even the dirt. It's murder getting it out of clothes. Every summer our friends go blackberry picking around their property. Our schedule finally permitted and we were able to join them this year. These are wild blackberries that grow all over. We loaded up the kids on Saturday and headed to Sedona for our day of adventure. The blackberry picking was fantastic. The kids had a really good time. The bushes are covered in thorns, so Emily helped by holding the bag and Ben couldn't stop eating every berry within reach. He'd often get the red ones which weren't very ripe but he didn't seem to care. I realized that I had never picked anything growing in the wild and eaten it right off the bush. The berries are delicious and taste better than anything I've ever bought in the store. David and I imagined the first people that came across blackberry bushes. They must have been in heaven!

After picking berries, we enjoyed our picnic lunch. We all drove over to our friends property. Ben wanted to drive and since we were on an all dirt back road, we let both kids sit on our laps. We parked our cars and walked down to the creek. Of course, we stopped and snacked on more berries on our way down. The water was perfect to cool off after a hot afternoon.

We made our way home after a while and the day would not have been complete without a stop at Dairy Queen. It was a wonderful day. It was so nice to catch up with friends that we don't see very often and do something different. This will be a yearly trip that we will clear our schedule for next year. Here are some videos of berry picking and the creek.