Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Scenes

Yesterday afternoon #3 and I were roaming the aisles of Target as I slyly added things to my basket, hoping #3 didn't notice. Christmas was definitely on her mind as evidenced by her singing, unabashedly at the top of her lungs, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

#3 has her own lyrics that go something like this: bout the other reindeer? used to laugh and call him names
.... then one froggy Christmas Eve
... if you ever saw it you would even say it globed

...over and over again. She doesn't quite know the order of the lines or exactly how to end the song.

So there we were in Target. We turned down one crowded, wider aisle and suddenly, like one of those 'spontaneous' musicals you see on You-Tube, a random lady who had been earnestly searching the boys pajama rack, whipped around and joined in singing the chorus of "Rudolph." Within seconds a few more shoppers who had apparently overheared #3's singing quickly joined in the song. Surprisingly, #3 wasn't embarrassed by the attention but encouraged by it. She sang louder and with bodily animation (all while sitting in the front of the cart). People stopped shopping and turned to watch the impromptu show. When the song ended, the on-lookers clapped and laughed. A few people across the way yelled, "That's the Christmas spirit!" and "She's a performer!" Then a lady approached us. She had tears and a smile on her face. "I can't tell you how happy that made me."

The crowd dispersed, but the fullness in my heart didn't for quite some time. I kept thinking about all the things that divide us (the people on my street or in my town or in my state or in my country or in the world). There are so many differences, so much that make us enemies. Sometimes these things get me down and I wonder how we, the collective people on earth, are going to pull through.

I guess that's why I was moved by what happened at Target. There was nothing unifying us but a three year old singing (and our love for cheap-chic only found at Target). And for a few moments, total strangers shared something special and joyful.

I don't know what the answers are, but I know they have something to do with children, hope, love, joy.... and Target.

More scenes of Christmas at our house

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Deep thoughts and #1's baptism

Tonight after the other kids were asleep I found #1 in her dark room, huddled over her scriptures with a flashlight. "Mom, can you read this to me?" She was reading Song of Solomon from the new Bible she received at her baptism.

"Uh, wouldn't you like me to read you something else?" (Have you ever read Song of Solomon? Not exactly eight year old material.)

"I think you and Dad are the tooth fairy."

"Uh, what?!? What made you think about that tonight?"

"Well I was thinking about how I don't believe in magic. Like it's impossible for reindeer to fly. Maybe there are birds holding up the reindeer. Why can't birds pull Santa's sleigh? They fly? How can anyone know? I mean, maybe Santa's suit is green? Maybe everything we know about Santa is wrong!"

"You're right. No one really knows anything about Santa. How about we read your scriptures now. Would you like me to read to you about Jesus' birth?"

So we read Luke 2 and when it was over she hugged me and pulled my face close for a kiss. "Thanks for reading that to me mom."

That pretty much says everything about my intellectual and analytical yet believing and faithful firstborn.

She was baptized by her own choice in the Logan Tabernacle on a very cold day in November. She felt sheepish in the white jumpsuit, as did Spouse. But she earnestly listened to the talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost. She was moved by the special music arranged by my sister. And when it came time to go under the water she didn't just go under, she jumped up and went under.

While I helped #1 into her beautiful baptism dress and braided her wet hair, the men in the chapel were anxiously occupied in striving to drain the font.

#1 was truly radiant as she sat to be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost.

When the baptism was over, people were hungry and it was time to party. My dear father in law treated the entire group to a real fiesta at our favorite mexican joint.

It was a happy, happy day for our family.

Fiesta time!

If you are in any of the photographs below: Thank you for coming and sharing our special day with us!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The best laid plans always fail

The plan was to wake up early Sunday morning (4:45 for me) and be pulling out of our driveway by 6:00 am. I had made sack lunches for everyone so we could avoid wasting time (and money) stopping for lunch. The plan was to be in Cache Valley around dinner time, eating a delicious meal my mother would have warm and waiting for us.

The plan was to make this miserable drive as quick as possible.

Nothing went according to plan. Except for me waking up at 4:45 and having lunches ready for everyone. We left our house at 6:50, a little late, but still OK.

It was snowing and blowing hard when we arrived in Flagstaff, but confident and safe in our 4 wheel drive Jeep, we hadn't lost any time.

I passed out our lunches somewhere between Paige and Kanab, feeling good about keeping on the road and not using precious daylight waiting in line at Wendy's.

In Kanab Spouse took over behind the wheel and we immediately drove into the wicked winter storm of the west. There was no warning. Cloudy but dry skies suddenly turned dark and snowy. The snow was piling up fast and there was nary a snow plow on the road.

If we had been the only car traveling that highway we would have been fine, but unfortunately there were about 8,000 semi trucks on that road that had also been caught in the sudden storm and they weren't doing so well. Every corner we turned there was another one stuck on a hill, pulled onto the side of the road or even worse, crashed into the mountain side. We were lucky to break 12 mph.

On one very steep and windy stretch we came upon a semi truck that must have hit some ice and had skidded perpendicular across the highway, blocking all lanes of traffic. We waited on that hill for quite some time before police came and attempted to direct the truck driver to back down that icy, snowy, hill with twenty cars sitting in it's path, all vulnerable to the danger.

When we finally arrived in Panguitch we were relieved and felt confident that now we would definitely make good time . Thirty minutes later we were on I 15 going 75 mph, and it felt like we were definitely moving again. But oh no! What's this? Brake lights ahead? No!

Yes. We came to a stop and shifted into park. There we stayed for the next four hours of lives. The snow built up around us. We watched a few movies, drank all of our water and ate all of our snacks. The kids went crazy, "We want to play in the snow!" We listened to Christmas music. We talked on the phone. We tried to find out what the heck was going on but according to the Utah Highway patrol, the road was dry and there was no traffic.

Good thing I had woken up at 4:45. Good thing I had saved us all that time with our packed lunches.

Night fell and the snow kept piling up. We were feeling desperate. How much longer could this go on? There were certain people in our car that needed to use the facilities. There were certain people in our car that couldn't wait any longer and was desperate enough to go outside behind a blanket that Spouse held up. And it may or may not have been the very moment that traffic started moving. Four hours of stand still, and this, this was the moment cars started to move.

Spouse was a champion and continued driving the remainder of the trip. This was a good thing because I kept dozing off even though I had promised Spouse to stay awake and keep him company. Every now and then I would snap out of my daze and yell in turrets-like fashion, "Are you awake?" or "You doing OK?"

In our delirium, Spouse coined a new word for the weather conditions we were driving in, an equal mix of snow and fog: fnow or snog. It doesn't sound very funny now, but at midnight in our manic state we were rolling (not literally) with laughter.

We arrived at my mother's house, freezing but thankfully in one piece, at 1:00 am. In the last 8 1/2 years we have made the drive from Phoenix to Cache Valley many, many times. But the time we drove to Utah for Thanksgiving in 2010 will undoubtedly go down in history as the worst drive, in the whole world and the entire universe.

(thank goodness it was balanced by the best time we had that week. more on that. stay tuned)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gilbert Days Fun Run

A few weeks ago I saw an advertisement for the Gilbert Days Fun Run and thought, "I don't want to run this." Then I saw they had a one mile race and thought, "I'm making my kids do this." Or maybe it was more like, "What a great opportunity to teach my kids about fitness and working towards a goal. They've seen me run a lot of races, maybe they would find it fun to run in one themselves."

#1 and #2 were both excited when I told them about the race. I warned them that after I paid the registration money there was no turning back, they had to commit to training and then trying their best in the race. They agreed.

The intensive training period lasted three weeks. A few times a week we ran distances on the canal trail behind our house. We practiced jogging rather than trying to sprint the entire way. We talked about how we weren't running to win, just running to do our best.

I was nervous that our training would become something mean mom was making them do, but for the most part they were eager to do "race practice."

We picked up their race packets a few days before the race. They tried on their t-shirts and were impressed with their real racing bib numbers.

It wasn't until we were driving to the park where the race was held that #1 noticed I wasn't wearing running clothes. "Aren't you running with us mom?" Nope, they didn't need me. They were ready.

Here are the pictures from the race:

Heading over to the starting line

Lined up and ready to run. Some people tie their shoes when they are nervous, others pick their noses.

That's #2 right in the middle of the picture. This is about the 1/4 mile mark. Final time: 10:20

Go #2! She's nearing the finish line. Final time: 11:05

I was so proud of these kids! But more importantly they were proud of themselves. I think they felt like rockstars at the after-race party. People were handing them Jamba Juices and Chic Fil A, and goodie bags full of fun stuff.

Are you wondering why I didn't run?

Not pregnant if that's what you're thinking.

I was just trying to store all my fat for Thanksgiving the next week.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I am writing this in my parent's warm attic, the snow is piled up outside and it is very, very cold. Yesterday the town was buzzing with talk about the storm to end all storms that was to hit last night. School was cancelled, businesses closed. The radio was instructing people to find their flashlights, blankets and to stay huddled in one room to keep warm in case the power went out.

We have Christmas music playing (my mom's new Celtic Woman Christmas album) and serious baking is underway. I am still in my pajamas and just loving being home for Thanksgiving.

Besides turkey tomorrow I am also looking forward to Saturday when we will baptize #1. I keep waking up at night with panicky thoughts. Have we prepared her well enough? Is there anything we forgot? Commandments? Check (I think). Laws and Ordinances of the gospel? Check (I think). Testimony and faith in Jesus Christ? Check (I think).

Have you heard about the adventure we had driving up here? Eightteen hours. Eightteen hours! Through blizzards and over ice and through scary, unplowed snowy canyons. Yikes! We are grateful to be here, alive.

I am grateful for a lot. God has blessed me and my family in many ways, large and small.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big milestone; firstborn turns 8!

Warning: don't watch on full screen. Blogger was really stingy with allowable MB and the movie had to be seriously condensed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Can there be too much?


No, I say there cannot.

The world is short exactly 200 million gallons of pesto.

Me and my little desert garden are doing our best to keep the world pesto production moving forward.

Let's do the math.

I have 10 basil plants.

Each plant will produce around 12 cups of basil leaves.

10 x 12 = lots of pesto

lots of pest0 = Merry Christmas to me!

Now, if only I could plant one of those money trees.....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Write Up

Jack and Sally Pumpkins

We had Cleopatra, (wingless) Tinkerbell and Anakin. Did you know Cleopatra murdered some of her siblings? Not my Cleopatra, the real one.

Unlike last year, where she cowered and clung to my leg all night, Tinkerbell thoroughly enjoyed all the Halloween festivities. She got into the Halloween spirit this year. She memorized and loved to sing "5 Little Pumpkins" and even arranged her own Halloween version of "Happy Family." It went something like this:

I scare Ghostey, he scares me.
We scare Pumpkin, yes siree.
He scares us and so you see,
We are a scary Halloween!

Pretty clever, huh?

Halloween falling on a Sunday really messed things up for Anakin. He has never been too good with chronology or time references. So when Halloween came and went without any real trick or treating, he was very disoriented. For several days after Halloween passed, he still was asking me in the morning, "Today we are going trick or treating?" Poor kid.

I was quite surprised when Cleopatra brought home a note from school stating that her class was going to have a Halloween party. Not a fall festival. Not a pumpkin party. There was no permission slip or alternate activity. Just a good, ole fashioned REAL Halloween party. They got to wear costumes and everything! It was great and Cleopatra was very beautiful.

Unlike the other kids who were a little sad to take down the Halloween decorations, she was rather stoic about it. When I asked her why she didn't care, she just shrugged her shoulders, "Eh, my birthday is in like 9 days and that's better than Halloween anyway." That's my practical girl!

Anakin's classroom Halloween party included cookie decorating.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Out of the mouth of this babe

#3 is so three years old. Her wise cracks have been bringing a smile to my face this week. There has been lots of talk of ghostesses, vampirates and scary mommies.

Jack and the Bean Stalk is her current book of choice before nap/quiet time. She loves the suspense while Jack is hiding in the Giant's oven. I wish I could record her little voice doing the fee fi fo fum part. In her best grumpy voice she says, "Fee fi fo fum! I smell the blood of an Englishmuffin!"

And yesterday, out of the blue, instead of her typical, "I'm not beautiful, I'm #3," response, she came up with this doozey, "I'm not cute, I'm Wallister Jenny." And she stuck with it too. All day she insisted she was Wallister Jenny. Do you know who Wallister Jenny is? I don't.

#3 is a social butterfly. When I take her out with me she is constantly meeting people by asking them frank questions like, What is your name? What are you doing? She mostly meets with friendly responses and people seem pleased to exchange pleasantries with such a little one.

Yesterday we had a close encounter with awkwardness when #3 asked the older man behind us in line at the pharmacy what was wrong with his nose, why did he have bloody on his nose? He had apparently just had some skin cancer removed and his nose was covered in fresh scabs. Fortunately, he was delighted to make conversation with her and he refused my apologies for her forwardness.

And today there was a real encounter with awkwardness.

#3 makes daily observations to the other adults at our bus stop. We are all very friendly by now. But after three months of seeing the same gentleman every single day today she happened to notice that he is black.

"Jimmy, you have earrings? Why do you have earrings? You're not a girl!"

Me: Some boys wear earrings too. Jimmy is wearing boy earrings.

"Oh! I like those boy earrings, Jimmy. I want those earrings too. Hey! You're black!"

Jimmy: Yes I am.

Examining herself, "But I'm white!"

Jimmy: That's ok. White and black. Everyone likes diamond earrings.

me (not knowing what the heck to say): I like diamond earrings.

Why was this awkward? I don't know. It just was.

Have your kids ever put you in an uneasy situation?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Your opnion matters

Thank heaven for 2nd grade writing assignments. Without them I may not know #1's true feelings for her brother. She actually loves him! See here:

Dear #2,

Your are a awsame brother. I would invite you to my party, but it will be a girl party. So I will let you play on my laptop. I wish I could mary you.


I don't know where she's getting a laptop from, but no bother, the main point is that she actually does love her brother. Celebrate!

Thank heaven for 2nd grade writing assignments. Without them I may not know #1's true feelings for me. She actually...... well, you'll see:

Once upon a time their was a lovley girl. Her name was Crystal Caraline Amyal. She loved to paint, but she was to poor for a paint brush and paint colers. She had to save her money to buy them. But her mother thout that she whanted a boy to mary. Her mother was greedy. But one day a prince came and said he whant to mary Crystal but this time Crystal said yes with a bow. Her mother said NO MARY ME! And for such a compaint she was put to fire. Crystal maryes the prince and they where happy. The end.


Opinion poll:

Should we start therapy now or wait a few years for these repressed feelings to fully develop into open rebellion?

For now I'm focusing on the positive. She loves her brother. Hooray!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Break; the good news and the bad news

#2 explained our sudden appearance to his Nana,

"Our Great Grandma died and now she's with Jesus. That's the bad news. But we got to fly on an airplane to Nutah, so that's good news. "

That pretty much sums up our fall break. Tuesday night we were told the sad news that Spouse's Grandmother had passed away. We stayed up late into the night doing laundry and packing. We were on a plane at noon the next day.

My kids finally got to see what autumn is all about. My little desert rats have never experienced genuine fall, with crisp-cold mornings, and vividly colored leaves. Now they know it truly exists outside of books.

It's autumn at the cabin

During the week there were lots of healthy questions and discussions about death with my children. #2 was a little nervous to see Grandma's body, he wondered if it would be green. Then after we saw her he wondered about her casket and just exactly how it was going to get into the ground.

I'm happy that the children's first experience with death was surrounded in love and security. Grandma Y. was just weeks away from her 94th birthday. The focus of her funeral was really to celebrate her full, accomplished life and to express gratitude for knowing and being loved by such a gentle woman.

#1 with two of her favorite cousins.

#2 at the graveside service.

That is Spouse reaching to lay a flower on Grandma's casket.

More of the good news: we got to see our not-so-little-anymore nephew one last time before he leaves on his 2-year, LDS mission next week. Holy cow, I remember playing with him when he wasn't much bigger than a baby!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Signs of Life

Excuse me for leaving you all anxiously waiting for my desert garden update. Good news! There are plants growing! And most of them are not weeds. I was very worried about our little garden yesterday during the torrential rains. Our backyard filled up like a pool, covering the tops of some of our young plants. I was very afraid they would be washed away, but they survived. Hooray!

Just like a new puppy my children have quickly lost interest and responsibility of our garden. It's up to me to nurture the tender plants and I must admit to a maternal sort of affection I have for the sprouts. I truly was joyful this morning to see they had survived the storm.

Every spring I set aside a certain amount of physical and mental tolerance to see me through the grueling Phoenix summer heat. But by every September I find myself running on empty. The constant sweating irritates me more. I find the baking sun loathsome. A part of my soul shrivels up and refuses to bloom until the gosh-darned-blankety-blank-blank white-hot heat ends!

Monday and Tuesday it rained. A lot. At first the rain acted like a dipper of water poured onto hot sauna bricks. Nothing but miserable steam. But as the sky kept pouring, the hot earth eventually cooled and yesterday I found myself feeling glad to be outside. This morning on my run I heard birds singing with joy for a cool morning. I felt like singing with them. That poor part of my soul that had gone into hiding, was stretching it's limbs, wondering if it's safe yet to come out.

I've lived here long enough to know that we have a few more weeks before the real respite arrives. But today, I feel renewed and I think I've refilled my tolerance just enough to get me to Thanksgiving.

How about you? Does the weather/temperature affect you like this or am I just nutso?

ps. Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bean Sniffer

It's been a long time since #2 lost something up his nostrils. Long enough to forget that he shouldn't do it.

Sunday night I served chicken tacos and black beans for dinner. After we had eaten I began clearing the table and putting things away. #1 and #2 were still at their places, chatting and giggling. Suddenly it got quiet and then #1 blurted out #2's secret.

"Mom, #2 has a black bean in his nose."

I inspected the dark orifice, but found no evidence of bean.

"Well, #2. I hope you don't die. Beans on the brain are deadly."

All traces of silliness drained from his shocked face. (Does this make me the worst mom ever?)

"Let's give your body some time to try to get rid of it on its own. If it doesn't come out in 20 minutes I'll have to take you to the hospital."

I had no intention of taking him to the hospital. I figured if the bean didn't birth itself, it would disintegrate over time, never posing any real harm. Maybe I'm totally wrong. Please inform me if nasally ingested beans are in fact deadly.

I kept cleaning up the kitchen, my mind moving onto other things like, "Why didn't I make dessert tonight? Where is my chocolate?" Several minutes passed before I remembered #2.

He was still sitting at the table, head hanging low, looking despondent. He was doing his very best not to cry.

Oops. I guess you shouldn't joke about death with a five year old. I knelt down next to him and wrapped my arms around him. "I'm sure you will be just fine. You body is probably working really hard right now to get rid of that bean."

He laid his dirty face on my clean shoulder and broke into deep sobs. Gasping for breath, "I" gasp, gasp, "don't," sob, sob, "want," sucking air, "to," snort, snort, "die."

Then a thought struck me. All this crying was producing a lot of mucus. Just what his little nose needed to expel a big black bean. I grabbed a tissue and told him to blow. While he blew I explained the mucus theory. He blew harder. On the fourth or fifth forceful blow I heard a huge "thwack" sound. We checked the tissue and sure enough, there was that slimy legume!

I thought the boy would wipe his tears away and shout hooray. But no, the relief was so immense he collapsed his dirty face onto my other clean shoulder and shook with more sobs. Sobs of joy from the deliverance from death by bean.

When he finally calmed down he was still laying on my shoulder, shuddering with after-cry-shocks. "I'm so glad I'm not going to die. I'm so glad I sniffed out that bean."

In his prayers that night, "I'm thankful that I sniffed that bean out."

First thing the next morning, "Mom, member when I almost died yesterday, but I sniffed that bean out?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Desert Garden Report

Manure was spread and seeds were planted. I think. The kids did the work, while I tried to direct the operation. In true form, #1 was the garden expert and didn't need to be told what to do. I figured since I don't know what the heck I'm doing I might as well let her do things her way.

We sowed (I think) some vegetables and some flowers.

Last night I left #1 reading on the couch while I put #2 and #3 to bed. When I came out 10 minutes later the couch was empty. "#1?" I called out. The glass door to the backyard slid open and #1 came inside, wiping her feet. "I was saying good night to the garden. I told it to try and grow some tonight."

This morning at first light, #1 bolted from her bed and out to the garden to see if anything had appeared. Nope. But hope is still high.

Immediately after school the children raced out back to water. They were disappointed not to find any green heads pushing through the brown manure mixed dirt. But they are still out there playing, staying near their precious garden.

Who needs a puppy? Apparently a bit of cow poop, some seeds and a watering can are just as exciting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mystical powers of manure

This afternoon I had 50 pounds of fertilizer in the back of my jeep. It was carried the long way around the house from the garage to the back corner of the yard where I am about to attempt to plant my very first Arizona garden. It is 105 outside and I wasn't about to get my hair sweaty.

What's that? Who did this dirty job for me? Oh, it was my hulky five year son. All it took was two magical words.

Cow poop. And he was begging to do the job.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A short lesson on death

#1 is always attempting to educate me. Just this morning while I was teaching her to tie her shoes she was persuaded that I was doing it wrong and that I should watch her. And that should answer your question as to why she is seven and can't tie her own shoes.... because she thinks she already knows how.

I recently received another illuminating nugget of intelligence from #1. In her best teacher to student voice she informed me:

When you die you have three choices. You can choose to be burned to ashes or be buried under the ground. The third choice is to be eaten by vultures.

Now you know why I'm so smart.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Not to Say

...when your wife says, "I look like a whale in this dress!"

Answer: "A cute whale."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The long weekend

How was your long weekend? Was it wonderful? Last night as Spouse and I lay on our bed exhausted he said, "I wish I had every Monday off." I do too. Spouse was especially heroic this weekend.

When I returned from my Saturday morning run at 6:30, he was dressed and finishing off a healthy bowl of Trix (I know! I tell him all the time that Trix are for kids!) And then he was out the door, on his way to a side job to earn himself some extra cash for his gun accessories

He warned me the job might take up to four hours. But the four hours turned into six hours as my Saturday became just another day at home with the kids. I wasn't exactly pleased. After house cleaning I rebelled and let the kids make a huge mess of the house while I watched the first three episodes of Vanity Fair (1998 BBC version). That afternoon when Spouse finally came through the door I had reached my limit, I needed to be ALONE!

Spouse understood. He loaded the kids into the jeep and took them to the railroad park that was having a Labor Day special, one ticket rides! The kids got out of the house, had fun, got hot and sweaty and I got a few hours all to myself. What did I do? I watched the remaining 3 episodes of Vanity Fair. So it really wasn't such a bad Saturday after all. Six hours of BBC, I can't complain.

Monday morning Spouse drove the whole family up north to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. We brought a picnic lunch and then hit the trails for some great, kid friendly hikes. Spouse took #1 and #2 bouldering down at the bottom of the ravine so they could get inside the bridge. The day was beautiful and it was refreshing to get out of the hot city, and
see a green and cooler part of Arizona.

Here is a really nerdy looking picture of me, but it is the only one we had that captured the bridge.
The blue tongue is from the disgusting patriotic themed cupcakes my kids begged for at the grocery store.

What about you?