Monthly Archives: April 2012

1.2 miles up… up… up… and up!

dave’s uncle jon and cousin jonathan came to town for a whirlwind trip to hike and to eat. they arrived on friday (two days ago) and immediately set out to hike Camelback Mountain.

dave and i haven’t been there yet (though i’m now eager to go). see that little “hump” just to the left of the peak? that’s as far as they made it. uncle jon was afraid that if he pushed himself to make it to the top he wouldn’t be able to hike on saturday when dave and i would join them. my thought? it’s incentive for them to return so we can ALL hike to the peak!


but on saturday morning, following a FABULOUS dinner at Joes Real BBQ the night before, i picked up the sitter for the kids and (a little bit later than intended) the adults were out the door! we drove towards Phoenix and Scottsdale but stopped short here at Piestewa Peak.

on the drive TO the mountain it seemed so much more foreboding. so much bigger. like HUGE. but i won’t lie. i was still a bit scared about having to climb to the peak of that thing. it was rocky and craggy and very, VERY sunny and the temperature was in the mid to upper 80s and i was being a wimp. but i wasn’t whining – just joking.

there were lots and loTS and LOTS of “stairs” to climb. some were pretty steep/high/big/tall steps and others were itty bitty shallow baby steps.

but then when we’d stop to catch our breath or drink some water we were greeted with scenes like the one above. pretty cool, huh?


and looking down? yeah. also pretty cool:


here’s Camelback again:


and the farthest out parking lot, where WE had to park to find one of the FOUR remaining parking spaces!


some of the “stairways” were pretty steep. and with no handrail, i wasn’t afraid of the UP part…. but i did worry about heading back DOWN after making it to the top…


but then, with my heart thudding in my chest and my throat beginning to hurt from gulping air through my open mouth, THERE IT WAS…. the TOP was in sight.


just. a. little. further. (farther?)


WE MADE IT! Uncle Jon was the FIRST person i photographed at the top… he had worked hard and had earned this photo:


coolest thing? he was able to see the general area where HE TAUGHT SCHOOL 30 years ago:

he worked at Scottsdale Christian School for one year after college. [he taught some Math, Bible and PE courses. and one year was more than enough for him. he had planned to spend his summer "back home" in Ohio and then return to Phoenix/Scottsdale in the fall to find a new job. but he got bored spending all summer at home with nothing to do and he stumbled upon a draftsman job and the rest... well, it's his history?!] the school was located in the general area of one of the bridges/overpasses in the photo above (his finger is pointing too far to the left – that’s the photographer’s fault).



dave had started a timer when we were in the parking lot. it took us an hour and 6 minutes to make our way up the mountain.

dave and i were proud to make it to the top:

but we were both ridiculously sweaty:


here’s a shot of uncle jon and cousin jonathan with the mile marker (the indication that you’ve “MADE IT TO THE TOP”) between them in the background:


and then this really nice lady who’s decent with shot composition was able to capture a group photo:


we took a good long while to rest at the top. we drank more water. ate some energy snacks and enjoyed the breeze. yep. there was a nice breeze up there. it felt gooooooooooooooooood! but the clock was still ticking, so we took a few last photographs:

(that was uncle jon trying to text aunt marcia)

and this is dave and i at the mile marker:

and it was time to head back DOWN….


down all those steep steps:

and on the rocky trail:


with only a few pit stops for a few more photo ops like this little lizard:


or the amazing flowers sprouting from the top of the cactus:


and before we knew it, we’d only suffered one MINOR injury (a rolled ankle… and it wasn’t mine!) and we found the sign for the trail head:

we made it down the mountain in about 50+minutes.


and then we began the long trek back to the car in the tippy top, farthest away parking lot:


and i was the last one to arrive at the car (i was taking photos like the one above!) and i arrived at 2 hours and 48 seconds (from the very start of our journey to the very end). and we ALL would’ve made it to the car MINUTES, not SECONDS before the 2-hour mark if i hadn’t INSISTED on stopping for a water break at the bottom of the trail before we embarked on the parking lot journey.


we were all sweaty and tired. but i think we all felt like we had accomplished something great. i won’t tell you that there were hundreds of other people on the trail that day. i won’t tell you that there were KIDS (not quite as young as davey & sam) on the trail. i won’t tell you that there were OLD people on the trail. i won’t tell you that some people did the trail TWICE in the time that we did it once. nope. i’m not going to tell you any of that. because that might make our journey seem a little less…. well, just a “little less.”


once we piled back in the car, we decided we had earned a tasty lunch at a sit down restaurant. YELP to the rescue and we were able to enjoy lunch at Dick’s Hideaway on 16th St in Phoenix. And it’s definitely HIDDEN away b/c we had to park and get out of the car before we could actually FIND the place. but that lunch was good. mmmmmm. hey! that reminds me! i have leftovers in the fridge… i guess i get to have that yummy lunch two days in a row!



difficult creativity

remember the other day when i mentioned that in the morning i WOULD choose the three toys for samantha’s creative punishment?
well, as much as i love my sweet, SWEET and LOVING daughter, she’s also a bit of a handful and standard time outs and spankings and “no treats for you” punishments don’t really do much for her. on wednesday, instead of napping or quietly resting and looking and books in her room DURING rest time, she did this:
yep. that is a book TORN. TO. SHREDS. if i remember right, it’s the first 16 pages plus page 20 & 21. or something like that. [i discovered this right before we were supposed to go to the pool for play time and swim lessons - the FINAL day of swim lessons. it was not a good moment for me. i did NOT, however, lose my temper. instead, i started crying. and THAT, my friends, made samantha more upset than if i had been angry with her.]
she’s torn books before (LOTS of them) but this one was a little bit different. see, this book was Davey’s. NOT davey’s & sam’s. JUST davey’s:
and she RUINED it.
and while it’s not davey’s favorite book and he doesn’t care all that much about it, it’s the principle that matters here. she needs to STOP tearing books! she needs to REST during rest time. she needs to RESPECT property – hers and others.
i called dave (who was still at work) and we agreed that it was not “too cruel” for me to make samantha sit in a chair at the pool while the other kids played before swim lessons. and it would not be “too cruel” to make her get out of the pool immediately after swim lessons while the other kids played. so that was the start of her punishment for her poor behavior during rest time (which was not limited to only book-ripping).
that night, as we talked more about the situation, we decided to get creative with our punishment. dave looked up the cost of a replacement book on amazon. he went ahead and ordered the book. i was ready to have samantha go to the bank and take money out of her savings account (to buy the new book) and give it to davey. but that doesn’t mean much to her. dave had the idea that samantha would have to “sell” one of her toys to earn the money to buy davey’s replacement book. that way, it would have to COST her something. i was immediately “on board.”
so we called samantha downstairs and explained the punishment to her. she immediately piped up and said “i don’t want my lello blankie anymore. i’ll sell that.”┬áthat’s when the punishment morphed a bit. we decided/agreed that i would choose three of samantha’s better-loved toys and she would have to choose one of those to sell.
so even though the DESTRUCTIVE event happened on wednesday, the CHOOSING TO SELL event didn’t happen until friday morning.
without any hesitation, samantha chose those yellow princess dress up shoes. dave was holding her so she could see the choices that were up on our bed. she almost lurched out of his arms, reached for and immediately grabbed the high heels and announced (in her not-quite-pouty-voice), “i don’t LIKE these shoes anymore.”
well, i guess i made that too easy. perhaps i should’ve added the green Princess Tiana shoes to the pile instead of the yellow Belle shoes. or i think the light blue Cinderella shoes would’ve been a REAL stretch for her. oh well. i didn’t want to be TOO cruel.
Samantha promptly handed the shoes to us. I gave her a $5 bill (the book was more in the $10-20 range) and I told her she needed that money to buy Davey’s replacement book. I instructed her not to rip it, tear it, lose it, etc.
The replacement book should arrive today. I hope she can find the $5 bill to give to us to buy the book so she can give it to Davey and tell him she’s sorry for tearing the first one to shreds.
whether this will work or be effective, we have no idea. but at least we’re trying to change things up. we’re trying to teach our daughter to respect other people’s things. we’re trying to teach her that there are consequences to naughty behavior. wish us luck!

this morning

this morning i’m making chocolate chip muffins from scratch. first time ever.

this morning we’re (meaning the kids and i) watching Lacey & Jada while Mrs. Jenni helps in Blake’s class at school.

this morning i will finalize the toys to be used for Samantha’s punishment (more on that in another post).

this morning my house is mostly tidy already. ahhhhh. Love that!

this morning i will empty my dishwasher and clean up the rest of the kitchen & dishes before lunchtime.

this morning i will be home. all morning. and it will be wonderful. right?

and finally, this morning i want to share this face with you:


(i know the photo’s dark but i’m too lazy to edit it right now and i was too lazy to add the external flash to the camera the other day when i took the photo…. was that just yesterday?!)

a little glimpse of love….

wanna hear an incredible sermon from our pastor? (yes, we have found a church to call “home” here in Arizona. it’s about 30 minutes from our home (not cool) but we really love the people and the preaching.) head to THIS link and listen to the sermon from yesterday (4/22/12). it’s part 1 of a sermon/study on acts 4:1-22. we’re slowly working our way through the book of acts.


in other news, do you know what love looked like in our home this weekend?


my new laptop:

within an hour of finishing our taxes last weekend (sunday the 15th), dave ordered the above laptop for me. when he told me the story, i almost cried. see, he got a bonus when we moved here (to cover moving expenses like hotel and food and gas….) and he had wanted to use that bonus to buy me a new (and overdue) laptop. but we had to buy things like a washer, dryer and refrigerator instead. so those ate the bonus money and i lived on in blissful ignorance (seriously, i was blissful – i had new appliances!) until last weekend when we acquired a decent return and he ordered a laptop for me. isn’t he the sweetest?


for the kids, i let D&S pick out these cookies at Walmart on Saturday when we ran “really quickly” to two grocery stores in prep for a big party that day:

they are quite tasty. but now there are only four left (two per kid) so i will not eat any more of them. yes. i promise. i will NOT. EAT. ANY. MORE. Lofthouse cookies (from this batch).


and last night, when Dave so lovingly took ALL. THREE. KIDS to the grocery store to pick up a few things for our hamburger-dinner…. as if taking ALL THREE MUNCHKINS to the store wasn’t enough of a bonus for me, they came home with this:

a little house plant with sweet orange flowers. it’s called Kalanchoe and is a native of Madagascar. and i love them. it. whatever.


there were plenty of other little glimpses of LOVE in our home this weekend, but those are a few photos i have to share. what about you?



project update

while nana was in town, i had a LONG list of crafty projects i wanted to complete. i didn’t finish them all, but i made a LOT of progress!


FIRST i made some decorative hangers for the girls’ rooms:


i used vintage hardware that i purchased in snohomish, washington (it was BRASS!) and i spray painted it white. i had lowes cut down a board to size for me and then i sanded, painted, painted and sanded before drilling holes and attaching the hardware. (i left room on the board above the knobs so i could add a vinyl phrase – eventually).


and then davey was jealous. so hobby lobby came through with some COOL knobs. but it took awhile to find a paint color combo that would work. and i’m not sure i’m 100% happy with the final outcome yet.

attempt #1:

didn’t like it AT ALL.

i REALLY wanted to make that dark blue paint work, so attempt #2:

better. but still not good. just not right. so i had to give up on the BLUE paint (which i purchased specifically for this project.

attempt #3:




SECOND i made some decorative hangers for our entryway:

wanna see a close up?


more boards cut-to-size at Lowes, black CHALKBOARD paint (on the wood) and vintage doorknobs (also purchased in snohomish, washington back in january) which were originally BRASS and were spray painted BLACK. add all those goodies together and you’ve got hooks in your entry way and you can PERSONALIZE them when guests/visitors come to your home!


THIRD you’ll get a peek at some new wall decor:

a small printers’ tray that i purchased in ohio last summer. i finally removed some of the slats and added photos and stuff. it’s not on the wall yet (it’s going to go in our bedroom) but i LOVE it!


and here’s a LARGE printer’s tray that i’m not allowed to hang in this house b/c it requires anchors (boo!) and i’ve added a few photos to it AND i’ve secured the bits&baubles inside since this picture was taken:

again, i spent time removing some of the slats. not a fun or easy project, but i got into a rhythm and it went a bit easier (eventually).


and here’s a BAD photo of some EASY new wall decor:

i bought that “D” at michaels (or joanns or hobby lobby?) and i found the frame at a garage sale for $5 (it was intended for a different project but i changed my mind)…


other than the reality that the D is NOT centered within the frame (oops), i really like how it turned out.


FINALLY my project life binder is slowly but surely getting CURRENT. i edited and printed photos while nana was here. and i put them in the book. and i started some journaling. it’s not up-to-date yet but every little bit of progress helps!



fun times with nana

nana likes to bring presents for the children when she visits. there’s usually a new “surprise” for every day of her visit. this past visit required TWO BOXES (shipped in the morning before she hopped on the plane) plus her luggage to get all the goodies here. one of my favorite surprises for the kids:

melissa and doug “costumes.” police officer, veterinarian and baker. aren’t those kids the cutest?!


on our way home from church one sunday, we stopped at the Apple store so dave could give nana a tutorial/advice re: what laptop she should get. D&S LOVE going to the apple store (we have SEVERAL within 20 minutes of our home) because they get to play with a computer (or sometimes an iPad):


nana held alex “still” while i painted her toenails one day (to match samantha’s):


she’s not so sure how she feels about the painted toes… but i think it’s something like: “really? really mommy? THIS is what you want to do to me today?”


samantha got some fake nails from nana:


and best of all…. we went to the dollar store with nana and the kids got to choose one item each. it was HILARIOUS to watch samantha the first time we did this. she walked around the store with a reusable tote bag (to purchase) and she stuffed it SO FULL OF ITEMS that she had to DRAG it behind her AND her hands were full of other items! it was not easy to narrow it down to just ONE item at the end of that shopping adventure! the second time was much easier. the third time (when they got $3 each!) was even funnier (sam gave $2 BACK TO NANA b/c she only wanted one item)!


davey made a wise choice the SECOND time we did the shopping excursion. he chose a pair of Spiderman goggles for swim lessons:


…and then he let me borrow them:



my apologies and another trip to Treasure Loop

my apologies for double posting the same swimming lessons at the Y photos. that was an oversight on my part. oops!


nana really wanted to go hiking while she was here. being unaware of any other “kid-friendly” hiking trails, we ventured out “early” on a saturday morning to take nana to the Treasure Loop trail at Lost Dutchman State Park.


davey and dave a little behind the pack:


love this one with nana &sam and the lens flare…



weird bugs attached at the behind. NO idea what they are, but we watched them for a long time:


and we spotted several lizards but were only able to capture this little guy on film!


swimming at the Y

nana was able to attend the kids’ VERY FIRST EVER OF ALL TIME swim lesson class on Monday, April 2nd! the kids practiced bobbing in the water (they were supposed to bob up and down and get their face/head wet), blowing bubbles, kicking with the paddle board, kicking with the noodle in front of them, back floats, putting their face in the water, getting in and out of the pool “properly” from the side and more. class is 25 minutes a day, 2 days a week, for 4 weeks.



here’s sam getting a HIGH FIVE from her teacher, Katie:


sam kicking her way back to the wall using the paddle board:


davey kicking with the paddle board:


davey in a back float (with sam watching closely):


davey practicing the right way to get in and out of the pool:


“alligator crawling” to the MORE shallow end of the pool (it’s a beach-entry pool) to practice putting their FACE (not just chin & mouth for bubble blowing) into the water:


it was pretty breezy/windy that first day of class, so these Munchkins were quite cold when class was over. however, they LOVED swim lessons and they were back in the water to practice what they learned almost immediately after this photo was taken.


(and if you’re wondering where alex was during all this, she was in CHILD CARE at the Y…. who loves the Y right now? I DO!!!!!)

sensory changes


alex isn’t the EASIEST child in the world. she’s 21 months old and still only says “bye bye” and “more.” using sign language she’ll add to that list with “all done,” “please,” and “bites.” additionally, she DOES NOT WANT TO WALK. not at all. she’ll walk on the ground (in the house – tile, wood and carpet) but only to walk along/around furniture. additionally, she’s got some SENSORY issues. she hates the grass, concrete, sidewalk, sand and more.


but now that nana spent two weeks with alex at the playground (among other places), she’s learning to do more than just TOLERATE these textures… she’s ENJOYING them! recently she’s been seen CRAWLING on a driveway, our back patio, in grass (both real AND fake) and i have photos of her experiencing SAND!


nana drizzling sand onto alex’s feet:


close up of alex’s toes all curled up:


wait for it… she’s REACHING for the sand!


she’s TOUCHING the sand:


“what do i DO with this stuff now that it’s STUCK on my hand?”





[side note: these photos were taken at Freestone Park around thursday, 3.22.12 - i'm not sure why they didn't link into the other post with photos from that adventure, but it is what it is. just two and a half weeks after this photo was taken, alex was SITTING in the sand at the play ground around the corner from our house. yes. SITTING IN THE SAND while wearing shorts and NO shoes. many, MANY thanks to nana for her help with alex!]

taking nana to freestone

while nana was here, dave and i went away overnight (a belated birthday celebration for me) and we shopped (a lot) and just enjoyed time together (talking, breathing, etc.). we celebrated nana’s birthday twice (thanks for the first party, heather!). we visited a few parks. we introduced nana to a few new eateries. we went hiking at treasure loop. we shopped and played and laughed and ate and entertained and had fun and a whole host of other things i can no longer remember.


shall i start you off with some photos from freestone park? D&S rode their bikes there. they played on the FIRST play ground. then we fed the ducks (and we enjoyed a duck fight – seriously!). we wound our way around to another play ground where alex played in the sand and enjoyed the swing while the other two played before we made our way back to the car and enjoyed some Chick Fil A for lunch (thanks for the treat, nana!).


i’ll share more photos & stories in more posts as the days go by.