Monday, December 31, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a sight and wonder of the season

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santa was good to us























































Santa brought us tickets to Disneyland this year. Think anyone was excited???

Monday, December 24, 2012

naughty and nice

 I'll let you guess if anyone here has ever been naughty.


















But for the most part, we're real nice. Right, Santa???
Merry Christmas! And God bless us, Everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

a griswold moment

"Clark, that's the gift that keeps on giving throughout the entire year."

Today I felt like Clark Giswold. This is not necessarily a good thing. Remember that time he was trapped in his attic when his family went shopping? He went up there to put a gift for Ellen in a "safe place" and by doing so found one he put in a "safe place" years ago. 


I couldn't find some gifts today! And could I ask anyone to help me find them? NO. no. no. No one was here, but more importantly, no one would know!


There are times one is grateful for not having a sprawling, huge home. Today is one of those days. It put me behind schedule, but after much frantic searching I did locate my "safe place."


Perhaps I should watch Christmas Vacation soon and take some Griswold lessons to heart. I wouldn't want to have another Clark moment.


Bonus:

This is what Nate says every year when we get our tree:
"Lotta sap in here!... Looks great! Little full, lotta sap."
Then generally we pretend things are sticking to us. This year, things actually were sticking to us. 
That tree had a lotta sap!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

sweetness

I usually turn out pan after pan of toffee this time of year. This year, each pan I turn out is TERRIBLE!!! I am not sure what the deal is. Perhaps it is time for me to move on. So fudge is my new confection of the year. I have tasted and tested a few and now have my favorite. I will say, the quality of your chocolate certainly reflects the quality of your final product. Thought you'd want to know, because we all know that "knowing is half the battle."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a new reality


The above picture was taken in July, sometime during an extensive road trip. Must have been towards the beginning based on the enthusiasm displayed on their cute faces.

Grace started reading Dickens', A Christmas Carol. This led to a discussion of the various merits of the different versions of the classic in movie form: The Muppets, The Chipmunks, Looney Toones, etc.

Grace then said, "I need to see the real one." I replied, "Sure, we have it." She then says, "No, I mean the Disney one." Ahhhh, I see.

In other news, Jimmy has been singing his own refrain of Angels We Have Heard on High. Instead of sing a long and angelic "Gloria," he sings a long and angelic "Warrior." Try it. You just might like it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

the wilds of the backyard

I live with three budding zoologists, all of which specialize in ornithology. The three are very cute as they peer out the back window with their binoculars consulting the bird books. I like to watch from the kitchen, its safer there - because I know (just as well as you know) that the creatures in the yard (mammal and fowl) are clearly out to get me. It is because of this knowledge that I have fine-tuned my wildlife watching skills.

Who was the first to spot the mouse swimming in the pool?
Who found three Harris hawks on the roof line when she returned home one day (alone and unprotected)?
Who saw the coyote meandering the street?
Who spotted the bobcat slinking through the yard under the citrus tree?
Who ran inside when the Great Horned owl hooted and flew off the palm tree branch?

I'll give you one guess.

I'm still shaking inside. The rest of my crew is calmly and rationally making diagrams, consulting their books, and anxiously awaiting our next wild visitor.

I can only guess who will spot it first.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

its that time of year


Usually December has us going from one thing to the next with no rest in between. Life had different plans this year. We've all been sick. Not all at once; instead its been stretched out. We've missed parties and concerts. We haven't baked anything yet (because who really wants a treat baked in the kitchen of a sick family???) And you know what? It has't been so bad.

We've had lots of time curled up on the couch in front of the fire. We've caught up on our Christmas movie watching and our Christmas book reading. And most importantly, we've caught up with each other. We've giggled together, snuggled together, and sneezed together.

It has't been a picture-perfect December, but it sure has been wonderful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

blood thinners

It has been an historic past 36 hours:

1. The heat is turned on in the house! Once it cools below 65 indoors, our furnace kicks on! It is hard to believe that for months and months we were happy if it was 78 in the house while it was 110+ outside.

2. We had a real blazing fire in the fireplace. And we sat around it and had hot cocoa!

3. I found it necessary to put on my wool coat as we waited for the bus this morning. The kids were amazed they could see their breath in the air.

The high today is an expected 63. Its about 39 at the moment. That spells C-H-I-L-L-Y for those of us living in the Valley of the Sun.

Friday, December 7, 2012

my kind of town


















I realize these pictures are all from October, but just enjoy nonetheless.






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Friday, November 16, 2012

bits of heaven

Is this heaven?


No, its the American Girl store. It only seems like heaven.































Is this heaven?
No, its the Lego store.
Is the heaven?
Well...
Yes, 
yes, I think it is.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a long, long time ago




















We got up before the sun one morning and drove out to an airport in far eastern Mesa. We boarded a plane and eventually landed in Rockford, Illinois. The baggage claim was right next to the rental car counter. So within 10 minutes we had our bags and the keys to our car. We then drove for a while and ended up at one of the most delicious places you could ever hope to end up - Portillo's!















The looks and smells were divine.
















I am not sure if the children were delighted to be at an historic place across the street from my Jr. High. Or if they were just delighted with the prospect of lunch.


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Friday, November 9, 2012

home of the brave

Get ready, this isn't my typical blog post. Crazy child antics and darling photos will come again, soon.

Our country is one divided this week. There are many citizens roaming around with hurt feelings and many more just uncertain what will come next. There has even been talk about "why don't we just divide the country - reds with their president of choice and blues with their president of choice."

Really?? Have we really come to that point? Are we so full of hurt and division that we can't see what we really have? Can we not see we are blessed with a voice? Blessed with rights and liberties many other citizens of the world can't even dream of?

I think the best way to quickly remedy these feelings is to get yourself to your nearest elementary school's Veteran's Day parade and program. As the children recite, "indivisible, for liberty and justice for all," it may just hit you that our Founding Fathers knew and planned for a nation comprised of citizens with diverse opinions and backgrounds; and yet set up parameters and means of government so all would be united in a common cause - Liberty and Freedom.

At this program you may also realize that these children, proudly waving their flags and singing patriotic songs with fervor are the future of this nation. These children - from different backgrounds with unique family situations, full of pride of their ancestry, firm in their beliefs - these children are our future. These children know and are learning about the history of this nation and the legacy they have inherited. They are proud of their country, proud of those that serve our country, and look forward to the future when they too will lead and serve this nation.

So what kind of country are we going to leave them? Are we just going to let our divisions blind us to join the larger World of Hurt, or are we going to remember that we are the Home of the Brave and live in the Land of the Free?

My children will know that this their legacy and their future is one full of promise and freedom if it is met with kindness and bravery.

Thank you to all who have served our nation, and all who still serve. One Captain at our program today is just days away from deployment to Afghanistan. He will miss out on another holiday season with his grandchildren. His grandson walked with him in the parade today, and there is no doubt that he understands what service and sacrifice means.

Do we know what it means?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

trick or treat

Happy Halloween from one Japanese Princess

and one muscular super hero (who's hair must have met up with a kryptonite comb).
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

nothing but the facts


If I told you I spent the better part of Saturday evening with Nate, Steve Young (and a lot of other Youngs for that matter), would you believe me?














What if I told you that we rocked out to the lead singer of Linkin Park backed up by Billy Morrison and Steve Stevens (currently touring with someone named Billy Idol), would you believe me?



You should.

Friday, October 26, 2012

question

Have you ever for a split-second wondered if you got into the right car and then felt an immense amount of relief when you saw the Pokemon cards on the front seat and knew you were in the right place?

Umm, me neither. Ahem.

Friday, October 19, 2012

raising the bar

Did I ever tell you about the time I took the kids to a biker bar?

Probably not.

Because it just happened TODAY.

We took a little 60 mile jaunt to our favorite arboretum (click here, if you want to be reminded). We did the full loop this time and saw bazillions of butterflies. We also saw many lizards, they were awfully cute. We snacked on goldfish (crackers, not live y'know). We met some elderly friends (remember my post from yesterday? The snowbirds are truly here and they are in action). We climbed rocks. We reminded each other to stay on the path. We admired very large rocks. Then we got hungry (goldfish only get you so far).

So we drove up the road to the thriving metropolis of Superior. I had read about two places to eat. Of course once I was in Superior, I discovered my phone service was very low and my phone's ability to process maps was quite dismal. We overheard in the gift shop of the arboretum (because how can you go anywhere with a gift shop with your children and not be coerced into going into the gift shop?) that a particular restaurant was a great place for lunch. Not being able to find the two previously-researched places to dine, we went to the one mentioned in the shop.

I laugh now as I reminded Sir James the need for good manners as we exited the car and ventured forth to the fine establishment. We passed one door which was closed and had a sign on it that read "restrooms for patrons only" and went straight for the door that was standing wide open. Jimmy ran straight in and much to his delight discovered pool tables and "games." Grace and I sauntered in and found a large bar full of avid bikers (not cyclists, bikers) and saw that there were a few tables towards the back.

Is this it? Is this the place? I guess so, the other door clearly was for restrooms only!

NOT

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence (including the bar patrons, but not Jimmy of course because he was so excited about the "games") the bartender finally jerked her thumb and announced, "Next Door!"

Next door indeed. Inside we found a table to seat ourselves. A greasy menu to pursue and what happened to be incredibly greasy food afterwards to consume. The kids had a great time. I'm just glad the drinks were cold.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

fall

We got back from 5 wonderful days in Illinois yesterday. I'm sure I'll tell you  more about it later. But what I will tell you about today is that it is Fall there (a real, true to life, glorious Fall).

It is hard to believe that it is Fall here. In downtown Chicago, the trees are all yellow, and orange, and red. The air is crisp. The wind is brisk. Here in mid-town Scottsdale, the high is 91. The sun is shining bright. The evenings are cool (at 72 degrees). The cactus are just as green as usual. The breeze is light and airy.

But there are a few reminders that it is Fall here:
1. It is Fall Break. How can it not be Fall, if we have a whole week off of school dedicated to that precious (and non-existent) season?
2. The snowbirds are flocking here. Our plane was full of them. I've not seen so many white-haired individuals in one place in a long time (probably since the last Senior Special Wednesday at the grocery store   towards the end of last "winter.")
3. The Cardinals are playing baseball on my TV. Our nostalgia for all things STL is at a tremendous high. How lucky to have them in the post-season once again! It must be Fall if I'm getting teary-eyed thinking about David Freese and his game-winning homerun.

Go Cards, Go!!!
And thanks for bringing Fall to my family room.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

class

This morning was my first foray back into the classroom since the start of school. This afternoon will be my second. Why is it that for two months there have been no opportunities for classroom participation and today there are two????

I did literacy centers in Jimmy's class. So fun to see the kids and feel a buzz from their enthusiasm. We did a snippet on Christopher Columbus. Interesting fellow, to be sure.

This afternoon it is art in Grace's class. Her teacher has requested some Fall leaf art. Sounds great, until one realizes that 91 degrees doesn't quite qualify as Fall. So I'm bringing in some clippings from my desert landscaping and we're going to do some leaf prints from those. Palm fronds are sure a far cry from maple leaves, but I'm hoping the result will be cool nonetheless.

I'm also hoping the mess from the combination of paint and 5th graders will be minimal.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feelings

This is a guest post by Nate.

Tonight for Family Home Evening, we talked about our family and wrote letters to the children's Great-Grandparents.  We started by discussing who they are, including those who are no longer with us.  Then the following unedited conversation took place.  Enjoy this window into Jimmy's perspective on life.

Mom: "What kinds of things could we write in our letters?"
Jimmy: "We could write the things we feel."
M: "Ok, Buv, like what?"
J: "Like, 'We feel sad that you died'."
M: "But the people we are writing letters to are still alive."
J: "Oh. Then we could write, 'We are happy that you stayed alive'."

What a touching sentiment.  I don't know how our living grandparents would feel about Jimmy's letter, but I know a couple of those on the other side would have really enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Stand

The day began with final preparations for The Lemonade Stand. The most hilarious part was when I tried to get Jimmy's "desk" (aka our first kitchen table - it is very, very tiny for a kitchen table mind you, and is more sized as a desk) out of his room to put out on the driveway. It wouldn't come through the door frame! I had the kids come and see when I had managed to wedge it pretty good, so there was space above and below, and his room was pretty unattainable. I don't remember the last time they were that astonished. Thanks to some quick thinking on his part, Jimmy managed to dislodge the table so one could enter his room, but one could still not get the table out (and I wasn't savoring the thought of unhinging the door all in the name of The Lemonade Stand).

So we went with Option 2 (which really was Option 3, because my neighbors were going to bring by their folding table and leave it by our garage early this morning on their way to an early morning soccer game). Option "2" was our good ol' coffee table. We emptied its cubbies of their contents, marched it outside, and slapped a tablecloth on it. I don't think any passerby (or customer, except for our first one which I'll get to in a minute) would have guessed our family room furniture was sitting out on the driveway.

Signage was made and duly posted. A last minute money-maker idea was hatched - for only 5 extra cents one could have a straw of their choice with their lemonade. And then of course a sign was made to indicate that (Jimmy provided that excellent service). And then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

What seemed like hours later (but really was only 25 minutes) our favorite babysitter pulled up. She had been finishing up at the gym when my Lemonade Text came and decided to quench her thirst. How delighted we were to have a real customer! And she paid up big-time. Very, big time. (Always helps I think to slightly over-pay your babysitters. They then will always want to come back, even if it is to a lemonade stand and they will pay 4 times as much as the going rate). And as our first customer, she got to pick her very own straw out for FREE. Big Deal. I'm pretty sure she knew it was our coffee table that provided the support for her lemonade and her straw. I'm pretty sure she didn't care.

Nate arrived to help with the last 15 minutes of our business hours. A few more customers came by so the decision was made to extend business hours. In the end a game of 4 Square was played by three people (is it then called 3 Square?), things were picked up, and we have a gallon of homemade lemonade taking up prime real estate in the fridge. Oh and we had another learning experience as well, Jimmy discovered that leaving one's crayons out in the sun will cause them to melt like crazy! Super-fun discovery.

So we had lessons in business, marketing, lemonade making, cleaning up, 4-3 Square-ing, and the process and result of wax melting.

A very good Saturday morning, if I do say so myself.

Friday, September 28, 2012

thirsty

At long last, we will finally be checking something off the Child Bucket List - having your very own lemonade stand. We will be stationed on our very own driveway, thereby (hopefully) bypassing a few crazy rules about kid-run enterprises.

Grace is super gung-ho about the whole thing. Jimmy is being rather supportive by making various signs and posters (though what Pokemon has to do with lemonade, we don't know).

So if you are thirsty tomorrow or want to quench the drive of a 10 year-old's dreams, come on by. Apparently we'll be in business from 10-11 a.m.

Friday, September 21, 2012

warm up

I mentioned a few days ago we had our Primary program this past Sunday. You would think that to prep and warm up for it, on the morning of we'd sing Primary songs such as I'm a Child of God or I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.

Nope.

Instead we sang Smoke on the Water all the way to church.
That, my friends, is how we roll.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

flex and point

I have joined the ranks of a select group - 
The Few
The Proud
The Middle-Aged Ballet Dancers

Yes, you are so right in saying, "you are NOT middle aged." I agree, but a majority of the ladies in my class are! 

We point, we flex, we help Joanie up off the floor after our point and flex floor exercise. We then head to the barre where we (mercifully spend most of class) and point and flex and do leg raises and point and flex some more and then end everything with a series of plies. And of course Grande Plies.

Did I tell you its fun? It is. Its sort of like a silly secret to be taking an adult beginner ballet class (though apparently Susan is not a beginner anymore, but she likes to stay in the class anyway. I think she's about 75).

After class I head over to the gym and lift my guts out with weights. It really is a great exercise in compare and contrast - ballet to weight lifting. There's a lot more sag in class and a lot more ripped abs in the weight room.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

falling

You know how you feel after a long, cold winter when the first signs of spring sneak in? You kind of want to go outside and breathe deeply, you want to sneak the windows open for a minute, you think about eating something fresh and crunchy.

That is exactly what is happening over here. We are at the end of a long and hot summer. We made it! And we keep doing things we haven't done in months!

Just yesterday I went on a 3 mile walk (outside!). We went on a family bike ride in the evening (outside!). We went to the park (outside!)

We ate a fresh Thai green curry for dinner on Sunday with spinach and peppers. We had watermelon coolers to drink. Jimmy couldn't stop eating the fancy Armenian cucumbers that came in our CSA delivery.

Hallelujah! Fall is coming!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

a weekend of productivity

This weekend was productive (one of Nate's favorite words for a weekend). We took on the task of organizing our pantry. It was awful. I will now state out loud, for the record, I do not care for pantry or closet organization. If anyone else out there enjoys that sort of thing - I've got a front closet for you!

It was also our congregation's Primary program. Primary is the Sunday School organization for the kids. I lead the music for the kids. As you can imagine, there is a lot of music involved in such a program. It went very well, but I was beat! I guess 14 songs is a lot. I took a 1.5 hour nap that afternoon and then went to bed just north of 9:30 that evening.

The weekend also consisted of:
taking the French horn into the shop for a tune-up
a trip to the Home Depot
a grocery run
some swimming
more cleaning
pizza night
a very sad football watching experience (the U won, in case you didn't know)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

this is where we were for 9 years

A city full of treasures.
Here is St. Louis from Anastasis Films on Vimeo.


fall

Its now September and finally cooling off! Perhaps we won't see the upper side of 104 for a while. This is joyous news for us.

Here are a few things I found out today:
1. There is a gifted program meeting tonight I did not know about.
2. There is a band instrument exchange tonight I did not know about.
3. There is a general note from the band teacher to families I somehow did not get.

Here are a few things I found out the other day:
1. Jimmy would like to don a pair of overalls. He claims they would "make him a new man."
2. Real men (according to James) work-out without wearing shirts.
3. Grace is rather insistent on trading in the flute for the French horn.

Friday, August 24, 2012

can you see Nate doing this?


I totally can. Here's a link to the story: LINK Must have been some traffic jam if a kids' bike could get there faster. Good thing for the scrubs, they are easier to ride in than a suit.

Here he is on a past Christmas morning testing out G's new ride. I suppose he really was practicing for a bicycle emergency!