Monthly Archives: April 2014

i had completely forgotten about my…

is there anything you’ve done in the past (perhaps in your childhood) that you COMPLETELY forgot about until some random event called it to the forefront of your memory?

or am i really THAT weird?

IMG_7739

last week, after recovering from a stomach virus that hit three of the five of us quite hard (it was awful!), i boarded a school bus with TWO classes of Kindergarten students (yes, i seriously did), and i joined my daughter, her friends/classmates and her teacher for an adventure like no other!

IMG_7736 IMG_7742

(oh yeah, my friend and fellow K mom, MaryAnn was there, too… and her daughter had just suffered through the same bug as Samantha and I):

IMG_7715 IMG_7718

After a very LONG bus ride (well, LONG for Kindergarten students – and for parents/teachers riding on the bus WITH said Kindergarten students), we arrived at our destination.

IMG_7740-2

(can  you read that circle under the “FIELD TRIP PASS” square? if not, it says “GREAT ARIZONA PUPPET THEATER”).

we waited outside for a very brief moment while we received our tickets (the above passes that we had to promptly “return” in order to get INTO the theater).

IMG_7739-2

and then our FOUR classes of Kindergarten students (approximately 100 students) were ushered to the ever-so-comfortable hard wood floor?!

yes.

the hardwood floor.

with wiggly Kindergarten students.

wiggly Kindergarten students who just spent more than 30 minutes on a bus ride.

um. yeah. NOT the best set-up.

about 1/2 of the students got lucky and got to sit on a thin rug on the hard wood floor. i felt like these people were not adequately prepared for our visit.

IMG_7741 IMG_7744

and then this lady with NO microphone, proceeded to talk to the kids in her quiet voice (seriously? what’s UP with this place?!) and then she had them singing songs.

really?

songs?

i thought this was a puppet theater and you might actually put on a PUPPET SHOW?!

again, i repeat: i felt like these people were not adequately prepared for our visit.

and here’s the biggest KICKER of all:

the lady told us the puppet show would have……

NO TALKING.

NO WORDS. 

NADA.

ZIP.

ZERO.

ZILCH.

NOT ONE WORD.

only music. 

to give the crazy lady SOME credit, she briefly reviewed the storyline with the children.

it was the story of PETER RABBIT.

IMG_7796

we were NOT allowed to take photos during the show (though i might have purposefully taken photos with my iPhone anyway – but i’m not incriminating myself by sharing them – the above photo was taken during a tour AFTER the show).

Following the show, which actually kept the attention of the students DESPITE the lack of words/talking, we were given a full tour of the facility. This included (ONE) the museum of puppets (and marionettes):

IMG_7753 IMG_7757

IMG_7762 IMG_7759

******

we interrupt this blog post for a quick class photo:

IMG_7764

the regularly scheduled blog post may now resume…

********

(TWO) a demonstration of how to use the puppets and an explanation of the different types of puppets (hand, rod, marionette, etc.):

IMG_7774 IMG_7770

(there may have also been some selfie photography happening by some of the moms):

IMG_7772

(THREE) The students got to make their own paper bag puppet (with mostly empty glue bottles):

IMG_7776

and (FOUR), we finally got a “tour” of the puppet stage itself:

IMG_7793 IMG_7795

(this is when i took that above photo of Peter Rabbit on his bed).

**********

It was somewhere during the INTRO to the entire show and part TWO of the tour when I was reminded of my late elementary/junior high school years. I used to help my church at their booth at this big festival every year (it may have been Italian Day in Bristol, Pennsylvania?!) and as a way to attract people to the booth, we had a puppet show. Mrs. Judy (can’t remember her last name) was a Puppeteer. She taught a number of us “kids” how to handle the puppets and how to properly have them “talk” or “sing” during the shows (our puppets performed to pre-taped shows that included fun kids’ songs, the name and location of our church – “Calvary Baptist Church, on Green Lane, right here in Bristol!,” details about VBS and church times… you get the idea).

I had COMPLETELY forgotten about those days in my life. Until this day! And then I remembered that not only did I help with that festival for MULTIPLE years, but sometimes we did other puppet shows. I even went to a puppeteer’s conference with Mrs. Judy (it was held at my school one weekend – i remember, very clearly, being in the choir room for at least one session and i remember having to show Mrs. Judy where everything was).

I remember the long hours and my tired arms. I remember using ONE arm/hand to keep the other one up in the air to keep my puppet going. I remember spending time in front of my bedroom mirror with my arm STRAIGHT UP  in the air, with my wrist pointed DOWN, trying oh-so-desperately to move ONLY my THUMB (since kids are usually looking UP to the puppet stage, you move only your thumb to make the puppet’s mouth open – otherwise the kids only see the puppet’s neck during the show!). While not impossible, it was not “easy.” But I definitely had fun.

Many, MANY thanks to the Kindergarten teachers for letting me take that little trip down memory lane last week!

********

And then, it was time to get BACK on the bus (with even ROWDIER Kindergarten kiddos!) and make the long drive back toward the school (we ate lunch at a park just next to the school and then the kids played on the playground and then we walked back to school).

This is Samantha’s teacher, Lynn Flanagan. We were rejoicing that we, somehow, made it through that crazy, wacky, hippie and oddball Puppet Theater field trip that, somehow, worked:

IMG_7763

the craziest thing is we completely forgot to enjoy our treat/fortification that i snagged for us the night before at walmart:

IMG_7740

i did have to endure some Kindergarten girl DRAMA on the bus ride home (yes, tears were shed), but in the end, the girls remain friends and Samantha would tell you that she LOVED the field trip AND the bus ride (though i’m pretty sure she would tell you that she loved the bus ride MORE than the field trip itself):

 IMG_7764-2

so it was a successful day for everyone involved.

and i loved spending the day with my girl!

conquering fears…

what’s your biggest fear?

snakes? heights? crowds? furry animals? spiders?

i considered looking up all the scientific terms for the above listed fears (and others) but decided i had enough to do without getting all fancy and professional (you DID know that i was a psych major in college, right?!).

i have multiple fears. snakes are pretty high up there on the list. (and yes, i’m aware that i live in arizona now and not only are there SNAKES, but they are POISONOUS, as well). so are heights. it took me YEARS to realize that i’m not really afraid of heights – i honestly don’t mind being up high. sometimes i really like it. but i’m seriously AFRAID of falling from heights.

but over the course of my lifetime, (closer to 4 decades than i would care to admit), i’ve made some progress with decreasing my fear of falling from heights.

no. seriously.

i mean, i used to fly ALL THE TIME. and i’ve been to the top of multiple towers, buildings, churches, and more (NYC’s Empire State Building, Chicago’s Sears Tower, Seattle’s Space Needle, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, several church domes/bell towers in England and Italy, cliff jumping in Israel…. you get the idea. i’ve also gone rock climbing, rappelling and i don’t even remember what else.

and one of my DREAMS (it’s on my Bucket List) is to go sky diving. oh! and hang gliding. and to ride in a hot air balloon.

yes, i’m serious.

i know i’m weird. and irrational. and my fears make no sense with my dreams. or perhaps i’m just not willing to let my dreams go unfulfilled because of my fears. this past saturday i looked my fear of heights straight in the eye and i won. on saturday, i was victorious.  but before we talk about ME, let’s talk about my FAMILY….

*********************************************************************

the Munchkins did NOT have a t-ball game on saturday (woo hoo!) so we bought tickets to go to the Spring Spectacular hosted by our community association. we’ve been to some association events and they’ve been sub-par, to be kind. but this time? this event?

UH-MAZE-ING

seriously. it was $3 per person (kids age 4 & under were free) and it included EVERYTHING you’re about to read/see……

The Munchkins loved the bouncy houses:

IMG_7802

well, Davey and Samantha loved the bounce houses. Alex wasn’t so sure about them so we found some bunnies and she was IN LOVE…

IMG_7807 IMG_7804  IMG_7820 IMG_7816

i’m slightly tempted to buy her a furry pet to love and snuggle….

*********************************************************************

but before the owners could convince me to buy one of their bunnies, it was time for the Easter Egg Hunt:

IMG_7798

there were THOUSANDS of eggs strewn across the expanse of a lawn by our association’s office. they even had it segmented for different age groups.

Alex did really well with the crowds of kids & adults. She was pretty focused on the eggs – I think it helped that she did an egg hunt at school earlier that week!

  IMG_7853 IMG_7856 IMG_7847 IMG_7859

and then it was time for the bigger kiddos:

IMG_7827 IMG_7832 

IMG_7861

IMG_7866 IMG_7869

IMG_7873

you can bet the kids age 4-6 knew what was going on! somehow, samantha managed to pick up eggs that were mostly filled with chocolate candies while davey managed to pick up eggs filled with hard candies. then again, they may have pulled something over on this Mama and “traded” egg contents before i found out what they had….

 *********************************************************************IMG_7880

as we were “re-grouping” after the fun chaos of the egg hunt, we found a special visitor:

IMG_7882

Davey and Samantha were happy to hug the Easter Bunny. Alex just watched. But then she REALLY SURPRISED me. She faced her fear of people-dressed-up-like-animals and she HAPPILY put herself by the bunny and kept petting his/her feet!

IMG_7884

I love that she’s growing more brave and that she is facing her fears head on!

*********************************************************************

lunch was next on the menu…. hamburger or hotdog plus chips and a drink…

IMG_7892

and then davey tried rock climbing while the Easter Bunny enjoyed the zip line:

IMG_7919 IMG_7925

not to be outdone, Samantha tried her climbing skills, too:

IMG_7932

*****************************************************

then samantha wanted to get her face painted. like a bunny:

IMG_7903

but what shocked me the most was when the wee one climbed up into the chair and said “bunny too!” seriously? who IS this kid who has filled the body of my Alex?!

IMG_7779

*****************************************************************

next, we spent a lot of time in line for daddy and mommy. we wanted to try the zip line. geneva was about 5 minutes ahead of us:

IMG_7934 IMG_7946 

after she completed her trip down the zipline, geneva and her husband helped wrangle our kiddos in the bounce houses and on the lawn when it was our turn to zip down the line.

geneva even snapped these photos of a SUPER helpful, caring, doting, loving and protective big brother with his baby sister in the bounce house:

IMG_7832-2 IMG_7831

***************************************************************

it was a VERY long line with a LOT of waiting before we got harnessed for our adventure. the girls and i had fun playing with my camera…

IMG_7785 IMG_7783

and then it was our turn!

IMG_7796 IMG_7798-2

geneva had my camera to snap a few photos of our zips!

IMG_7953

samantha was first:

IMG_7834

but she couldn’t do it. i was (and still am) SO PROUD OF HER for waiting in the long time, for climbing to the top of the stairs, for standing on the platform and for looking down! she couldn’t convince herself to step off that platform and trust the lines that held her, but she faced her fears and tried. at the age of 5. i was (and am!) impressed!

so then davey took his turn. he climbed to the top, stood on the platform and stepped off. just like that. no fear. no concern. no worry. he never ceases to amaze me!

IMG_7959 IMG_7955

next it was my turn. i was terrified. my legs were shaking. i thought for sure i’d have to walk back DOWN the steps like samantha did. but somehow, i managed to turn around and fall backwards off the platform:

IMG_7961 IMG_7963

and then dave just went for it:

IMG_7966

*************************************************************

samantha seemed to want to do something to convince herself she could. anything. but from start to finish. so en route to a ride, we found the bull. and she rode that bull like it was the tamest, slowest tortoise in the world:

IMG_7979

davey took the bull for a ride, too:

IMG_7984

and not to be outdone by the Munchkins, i wanted my shot:

IMG_7990

apparently i was only the THIRD woman to try to ride the bull ALL DAY. and i tried level 2. big mistake. i lasted about 2 seconds by holding on with BOTH hands.

Dave, however, tried level 3:

IMG_7991

IMG_7992 IMG_7993

IMG_7994 IMG_7995

IMG_7996 IMG_7999

that series of 7 photos happened in less than 3 seconds.

seriously.

Alex really WANTED to ride the bull but we wouldn’t let her try.

i kid you not.

she almost threw a fit as we dragged her away from the bull pit!

************************************************************

Samantha really wanted to ride the swing on giant bungee ropes, but, unfortunately, the line was LONG and there was a “closed end” to the line and we missed our chance! Samantha was really, really bummed but we told her she could try the rock wall one more time before we headed home.

Davey also tried again and got pretty far:

IMG_8006

I’d say he made it at least 1/3 of the way up the wall!

and for completely UNKNOWN reasons, i decided to try the wall.

yes. me with my fear of falling from heights. i’d already faced the zip line and though i “cheated” a bit by going backwards, at least i did it.

so why was i tempting fate?

why was i looking to humiliate myself in front of my family and strangers?

i honestly do NOT know the answers to those questions. all i know is i got harnessed and i started to climb.

IMG_8017    IMG_8020

i made myself put one foot on a knob at a time.

and i made myself grab one hand hold at a time.

and i reminded myself that i was attached to a rope.

and i reminded myself that i was NOT heavy enough to make the wall fall over.

and my hands were sweaty. and i lost my grip a couple of times.

but just before i was ready to stop and let the rope return me safely to the ground, i saw the buzzer.

I WAS NEAR ENOUGH TO THE TOP TO SEE THE BUZZER!

i pushed myself upward another knob and another foot hold and i pressed that buzzer with my sweaty, shaky hands:

IMG_8024

and then i grabbed the top of the rope and let it lower me to the ground.

but i couldn’t stop beaming.

and i couldn’t stop believing that i really did it.

and i couldn’t stop shaking.

and i couldn’t stop smiling.

and i couldn’t have been more proud of myself than i was at that moment.

IMG_8029 IMG_8030 IMG_8032

i was proud because i had faced one of my biggest fears.

twice in one day.

and i showed my children that we CAN do things that scare us.

we CAN do things that intimidate us.

we CAN do things that make us tremble.

no cotton candy or lemonade?!

WHAT?!

yes. you read that right.

NO COTTON CANDY or LEMONADE.

none. nada. zip. zero. zilch.

it’s all i wanted. and they had none.

but despite that, the Spectrum Elementary School Carnival last Friday night was a success!

Davey and Samantha had wrist bands allowing them unlimited access to several venues including, but not limited to  the inflatable slide, bounce house, pony race, bumper cars, trackless train and more.

IMG_7594 IMG_7567

 IMG_7572

IMG_7571 IMG_7570

IMG_7587 IMG_7577

10259830_10202916030373639_2268465104317161985_n

things like FACE PAINTING were additional tickets:

IMG_7603 IMG_7604

IMG_7610   10154275_10203426717768241_8357421276527585590_n IMG_7585 IMG_7583

IMG_7706

along with the wristband rides and face painting and other activities, there were games, a petting zoo, pony rides, snacks (just no cotton candy or lemonade) and LOTS and LOTS of friends!

we had purchased a LOT of extra tickets (along with the wristbands for the two older Munchkins) but with the long lines everyone, no one was really interested in slowly spending tickets. AND THAT’s when it happened. i found the BOOK TABLE. yep. people had donated books they no longer wanted and we were able to use ticket to purchase them. books were either 50 cents or $1 each.  i spent a large thwack of tickets at the book booth getting “new” books for the kids to enjoy!

in case you’re wondering, yes, alex was at the carnival too. she was tired and ornery and NOT a good photography subject. and then the blessing of all blessings appeared in the form of Mrs. Katie, a special ed teacher who has the classroom next to alex’s.  while dave was with davey at the rides, i was with samantha in a LONG line to get her face painted. and alex was with us. strapped into her stroller and VERY unhappy about it. and along came Mrs. Katie who offered to walk around with alex. and around. and around. and around. she took her to the petting zoo. and the horses. and she had her walking and running everywhere. yep. Mrs. Katie was our angel that night.!

it was a fun night but i’m glad there’s not a repeat for another year or so!

praying for steady hands….

samantha’s hair has gotten REALLY long. especially when it’s wet and we’ve combed out all the tangles.

a few weeks ago, i posted this photo on Facebook:

IMG_7585

i mean, look at that – her hair is down to her waist!!!

we’ve (samantha and mommy) been struggling each morning before school and before t-ball games to comb out some tangles and “do something” with this mop. she really prefers her hair DOWN, and while i don’t “mind,” it bothers me that her hair just gets more matted and knotted and tangled and turns into a crazy mess. for t-ball, i insist on braids (usually two french braids) but that involves parting her hair with a comb and separating the tangles to braid it all.

it’s been a frustrating, painful, tear-filled time in our home.

so we started talking about trimming it. and at first, she was AGAINST it. she would like to have Rapunzel’s hair, you know.

yes. that long. she would be in heaven. i would be in Hair Hell.

but after a particularly tangled day when her hair had to be sectioned into french braids, she agreed it was time for a cut.

and a few days later, SHE reminded ME.

so this past saturday afternoon, her hair went from this:

IMG_7711

to this:

IMG_7712

which means she left behind all of this:

IMG_7713

it looks like i cut off about 2 inches (maybe closer to 3). it was all dry, damaged ends that had been bleached by the Arizona sun + pool chlorine last summer.

***************************

i’ll admit, i was VERY nervous. and the only reasons i agreed to trim her hair are as follows:

1. she was REALLY excited about it and we didn’t have time to go somewhere

2. she REALLY needed it

3. she has a lot of natural curl so i knew that would “hide” any mistakes i might make (and let’s face it, we KNOW i was going to make mistakes!)

***************************

so my concern now that it’s been trimmed so significantly is many of her natural curls seem to have disappeared. then again, she ran around at two birthday parties (with one bath in between) and has been sick since Sunday night, so we haven’t really had a chance to see what it’s going to do long term. i’m just hoping i didn’t cut off all her beautiful curls – i would be devastated!

did you really think i LIKED that black, all-purpose camera case

many of you know that i commandeered my husband’s DSLR several years ago when he stopped using it. since then, i’ve taken two photography classes (i still really struggle with the settings for aperture and shutter speed!) and i’m know as the “photography mom” in each of my Munchkins’ classes at school.

my love of photography is a byproduct of my first love: paper, glitter, pens, markers, stickers and all things craft-y. this, naturally, led to scrapbooking. and that led to a desire to do a better job at capturing life as it happens with NON blurry and NOT TOO DARK photos. and i started to take photos with the end result (scrapbooking them!) in mind, so i started to arrange my children and i moved my body to get different “back drops” and things like that. and all that has brought me to where i am today.

a wife. a mom. a documenter. and a very, VERY amateur photographer.

for all these years, i’ve been toting my husband’s camera around in his all black camera bag. it does the job. but that’s all. and it doesn’t fit any extra lenses or anything. and i don’t  like the style of the bag. he also has a camera backpack which is ALSO not my style and it holds a little TOO much in the way of camera gear. so i finally started looking at bags for me. you know, something a little more….. FASHIONABLE.

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW EXPENSIVE A “FASHIONABLE” CAMERA BAG IS?!?

seriously! google it. or check amazon. there are some B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L bags out there if you’re willing to drop $120, $150, $200, $300 or more! some of them are even worth it. i just don’t have that kind of money. not when my husband has some perfectly “useable” and “serviceable” bags already in our home.

then i remembered that a few years ago, a dear friend made her own camera insert. she bought a purse she liked, made an insert and had her own camera bag. i knew, however, that i did NOT want to tackle the “make-your-own-insert” project. not at all. my sewing machine has some serious issues right now and i did not want to battle it for a project like this. so i did some research on line and you can BUY a camera bag insert. check on amazon, b and photo video, adorama, etc. there are lots of options out there in varying price ranges. so i went to Ross and picked out a purse:

IMG_7705

(isn’t it beautiful?! it’s a coral-ish color and it’s a Nine West “Vintage” line – i have this serious love for Nine West bags – i fall in love with a bag at a store and THEN look to see the designer and 9 times out of 10 it will be Nine West. it’s a bit uncanny, actually.)

then i went home and got ready to BUY myself a pre-made camera bag insert. so i started researching them further – reading reviews, measuring my purse, etc. and i just couldn’t find one that seemed like it would be “perfect!” i was afraid i would order an insert that was too small to house our (brand new – and this is a whole different story!) zoom lens. or i was afraid i would order one that was too large for my purse. or i was afraid that i would simply hate the thing and i would have wasted $30 or $30 or $50 or $60 (yes, there are some even MORE expensive than that!)!

ironically enough, i had conversations with TWO different friends about camera bags/camera bag inserts in the past few days and they BOTH encouraged me to make my own (they each made their own). so i looked up a few tutorials (hooray for Google, You Tube and Pinterest!) and i found a tutorial that seemed quite basic. and then one of my two previously mentioned friends sent me a link to the tutorial SHE used – also basic.

what was my biggest problem with this entire situation? it was 9pm on a friday night. the local stores where i needed to buy foam and fabric were all closed! ack! and i REALLY wanted the bag for the Munchkins’ t-ball game on saturday morning. so sad.

after t-ball this morning, we made a pit stop at Hobby Lobby where i ALMOST purchased grey & white polka dot fabric and turquoise & white chevron fabric to make my own insert. but then…. then i caught a glimpse of THIS and i was sold:

IMG_7709

did you see that? it’s grey & white. it’s a wood pattern. it made me swoon.

well, almost.

but i immediately purchased a yard of it and i haven’t regretted that decision at all.

i think i started my project around 1:30 (we got home from t-ball and errands and had to deal with pesky “chores” like making and eating lunch as a family!) and by 4:45, i was finished. this included re-reading the directions, measuring, reading the directions, cutting, reading the directions, sewing, reading the directions again…. and then showing my husband (who was busy doing our taxes!) every finished step of the process. yes, he really IS that patient with me. (most of the time).

so friends, i have no “in progress” photos for you because i simply wanted to “get ‘er done!” but i do have some FINISHED photos and i would call this a successful and relatively easy project. (we don’t need to discuss the reality that i took one Munchkin to a birthday party today where i joyfully carried my latest creation with me only to discover i had left the camera BATTERY at home on the charger SO LAME, i know!!)

IMG_7717

IMG_7720 IMG_7718

best part: this insert is REMOVABLE. if i decide i no longer like the EXTERIOR of my NEW camera bag, i just find another one i like and place the insert in there. pretty cool, huh?

*******************************************************************************

DETAILS:

purse: fun find at Ross for $30

fabric: fun find at Hobby Lobby for $5 for one yard (it was on sale)

very dense 1″ foam: fun find in our garage!

velcro (or “hook and loop” if you’re being PC – which NO ONE has ever “accused” me of being PC) – 25 cents per package at a garage sale – used two packages (mine was 3/4″ velcro and it’s working just fine. i honestly can’t imagine using 1.5″ velcro as recommended in the first tutorial?!)

needle, thread, sewing machine: already in my possession

TOTAL COST: $36.00

*******************************************************************************

here is a link to the tutorial i used.

here is another link to one that maybe i should have used.

*******************************************************************************

what did i learn from this experience?

1. i purchased a purse with a rectangular bottom, not an oval one (like in the first link). based solely on the shape of the bottom of my purse, i should have used the second linked tutorial for a more “squared” purse shape. live and learn – it’s no big deal.

2. i bought the WRONG foam at Hobby Lobby. actually, i bought the ONLY foam they had. it wasn’t dense enough. fortunately for me, we had some AMAZING foam in the garage that did NOT get purged (not sure why?!) in our recent “clean-the-garage” project (odd, since this foam came with our house and we don’t know why). so i’ll return the cheap foam to HL and i have LOTS of this super-duper dense, blue foam remaining should i want to make another camera bag insert one day.

3. always, always, always read the directions two, three or four times before you cut your fabric. for my FINAL cutting step, i cut the fabric with an allowance of 2″ on the top and bottom but only 1/2″ on the sides. it was supposed to be the other way around. UGH! fortunately for me, the tree pattern lends itself to a vertical or horizontal situation so i turned it sideways in order to finish the project.

4. i made THREE foam dividers instead of the recommended two. that third one can go on TOP of the camera + lens for padding from above (and then my wallet fits right on top!)

5. i should always, always, ALWAYS do my research before making any purchases that will be an investment.  that research (which stressed me out) is what led to this DIY project and i LOVE the end result.

6. hand stitching is NOT my forte. especially when fighting with a really dense foam that is trying to form a circle but you want it in a rectangle (seriously?! did i learn ANYTHING in pre-school?!) and my fingers have some “war wounds” to show for it.

7. my sewing skills are a bit better than i thought they were – though i’m still an “infant” when it comes to my sewing machine and knowing how to use it.

8. always, always, ALWAYS check to make sure there’s a BATTERY and a MEMORY CARD in your CAMERA which should be in your CAMERA BAG before you leave the house – especially when attending a birthday party with some of your other mom friends and you want to SHOW OFF your hot, new creation!

off i went, into cold, grey washington….

consider THIS your warning:

this is a ridiculously long blog post with well over 50 photos

IMG_7190

so it’s true. it was over a month ago that i packed my bags with warmer clothing (it had been in the 80s* here in Arizona!) and hopped on a delayed plane and jetted off to washington for a long weekend (thursday to monday).

IMG_7194 IMG_7196

there was a specific purpose for my adventure:

babies.

yes. babies.

three of them, to be exact.

miss abby:

IMG_7202

mr. wesley:

IMG_7206

and mr. cooper:

cooper

three sweet babies belonging to three very special friends.

first up is little miss abby…. who isn’t very little anymore. she was born in november to my best female friend on this planet:

1974655_10152121080990914_275774961_n

carrilee.

and baby abby has THREE older siblings:

henry (turned 8 a month after this photo was taken):

IMG_5700

jorja (will be 6 in july):

IMG_5697

and albert (will be 3 in june):

albert

(here’s another view at sweet abby)…

IMG_5689

i actually spent three different “sessions” of time with carrilee (with and without kiddos) at her house. she kept her schedule clear for my weekend visit and i’m so thankful she did. it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to simply be together. chat. chill. laugh. engage. focus on a movie. i miss her tons. she really has always been like a sister to me. it was NOT easy to move 1000 miles from her. it’s not easy to have her so far away. it’s not easy to see her once or twice a year.

next up is mr. wesley, who was born in january and was two months old when i finally got to meet him. his sweet mama is my sister-in-law, rachel:

IMG_7216 

so that makes wesley my nephew. and he has one sibling, amity:

IMG_5739 IMG_7210

i know, right?! she’s a doll filled with more personality in her 3-year old body than most people emote in a lifetime!

amity and i had a grand time dancing and listening to music and coloring and playing with her blocks and eating lunch and smiling at each other and making goofy faces and doing all kinds of FUN things that she loves.

IMG_5760 IMG_5766 IMG_5765 IMG_5742 IMG_5743  IMG_5744  IMG_5745 

(since my visit, she has been enrolled in a dance class. you never would’ve guessed that she LOVES it, would you?)

Amity had a LOT of fun playing with her grandma and her new “quiet” blocks and trying on he new outfits from grandpa & grandma and (gasp!) skipping her nap.

 IMG_5718mom

 IMG_5706

IMG_5735

(i spelled “amity” and then in front of that, she spelled “auntie tam” and behind her name, she spelled “nah-ma” (her name for grandma).

but as much fun as she and i had dancing and reading and coloring and being goofy, and as much as she thought it might, the visit did NOT revolve around her. not completely, at least. i DID get lots of sweet snuggles from this not-so-little guy:

IMG_5702 IMG_7208    

 IMG_5781IMG_5772

oh how i miss these sweet baby stretches!

and i miss babies falling asleep in super-cute positions:

 IMG_5758  IMG_5740

(i COMPLETELY FORGOT about the sleeping but wicked head-tilt position!!)

but i DID get to see his eyes  and practice some photography skills as he spotted his dear mama:

IMG_5813 IMG_5811 

and then he was asleep again (so thoughtfully dressed in one of the outfits i sent his way after he was born!):

IMG_7215

(if you can’t tell, it’s a onesie with the abominable snowman – so appropriate for someone living in western washington – and it says “FEED ME” which is ALSO appropriate for this chubby-chunky boy!)

after meeting 2/3 of the babies i journeyed to see, i have a small hiatus from baby-holding, snuggling, cuddling and loving. i spent time with some grown-ups doing fun things like shopping, eating, talking without being interrupted by children….

IMG_7229

IMG_7233 IMG_7232

IMG_7230

i am SO THANKFUL for my saturday with julie. she is one of my dearest friends. thanks so much, julie, for giving me the better part of your saturday!

i also saw lots of familiar faces at church on sunday (though i only photographed two of them):

IMG_7239 IMG_7237

it was SO CRAZY-FUN to see Christy (photo on the left). her family recently returned “home” from a decade in the mission field in indonesia. when she and richard first went to indonesia, they were married with no children. now they have FOUR children! and i just “happened” to be in lynden the weekend they were at the church talking about how God closed the doors for THEIR life to be in indonesia at this time.  they live several hours south of lynden, washington now (near their families).

but the craziest thing of all about church on sunday…. it was a day of CELEBRATION. my in-laws have been at this church for TWENTY years. yes. twenty. their first day at Grace Baptist Church in Lynden, Washington was on march 6, 1994. their ministry has morphed many different times over the past 20 years and their family has changed drastically in the last 12 years (their 4 children are college graduates, 3 of 4 children are married, they have 6 grandchildren…). so i just HAPPENED to be at church the DAY there was a large and informal reception after the two church services to celebrate their service and ministry:

IMG_5826

aren’t these flowers BEAUTIFUL?!:

 IMG_7539

and on the morning of my last half day of my trip, i finally got to meet, hold, snuggle, kiss, cuddle, love on and photograph Baby Cooper, who was 13 days old in these photos:

IMG_5837 IMG_5829

cooper is the FIRST child in his family. he belongs to my brother-in-law, Jeff, and his wife, Taryn. darling cooper had only been home from the hospital for a day or two when i met him – he was in the hospital for an extra long time after they discovered he had sepsis! he was treated and recovered and released, though, and we are all VERY thankful that he’s alive and healthy and HERE!

IMG_5841

(i LOVE this photo of grandpa & grandma ogling their 3rd grandson!)

cooper looks a lot like his daddy. and he seems to act like him, too:

IMG_5853

he knows that there could be BETTER photos of him, so he changes his pose ever-so-slightly:

IMG_5854

to get the “oohs” and “aahs” from all the ladies!

i LOVED every minute with this sweet boy (i even changed his diaper and got him dressed!) and i can’t possibly spend enough time visiting with his parents…. especially since they’re now, well, PARENTS. gasp! feels so weird to type that about jeff and taryn. (they started dating when i was pregnant with davey and they got married when samantha was about 8 months old).

ladies-man-cooper has one issue that he’s going to have to overcome, however, to get his father’s complete respect…. cooper is going to have to give up sucking his thumb:

 IMG_5878 IMG_5877

see, jeff was a thumb-sucker. and as ALL of us former thumb-suckers know (yes, i am shamelessly admitting that i was a BIG-TIME thumb-sucker back in the day), it’s about more than the thumb vs. a pacifier. it’s about your teeth and your smile and your self-confidence and orthodontia bills and so much more. so even though sweet Coop is only 13 days old here, his daddy is being vigilant to try to prevent him from getting too attached to having his thumb in his mouth.

sometimes Cooper even listens to his dad and CHEWS on his hand instead of sucks his thumb:

 IMG_5857 IMG_5856 IMG_5858

yeah. sure. i guess being a canibal is better than being a thumb-sucker.

i DID manage to snap a few photos of the new parents WITH their darling cooper (it wasn’t easy, trust me, for me to STOP holding this precious bundle). I’m sharing ALL of these family photos because even though Jeff and Taryn look the same in every picture, sweet Cooper is telling us a story. are you ready to hear it?

{yawn}. maybe i AM tired after keeping these crazy people up all night…

IMG_5880

but i’d rather be held by my auntie tam as i fall asleep:

IMG_5881

no.

really. you crazy, sleep-deprived people need to know that i’d rather be held by my auntie tam as i fall asleep:

IMG_5882

why are you not listening to me?

IMG_5883

{yawn}. oh fine. i guess i’ll just give up.

IMG_5884

but i know she’s taking pictures so at least i’ll look cute for my auntie tam:

IMG_5885

and then i went to the airport and flew home to my fabulous family. and i was greeted with hugs and kisses and hugs and love and hugs and squeals of “mommmmmmmmmy’s hoooooooome!” and more hugs.

and there was this special gem, too:

home

“Dear Dave 3, I am so happy that you get to pick up mommy.”

written by Samantha.

so even though i miss those three VERY SPECIAL BABIES and their families, i was happy to get home to my husband and my own “babies” (and warm, sunny weather).

my daughter’s teacher can sing amazingly well…. can yours?!

IMG_7600

have you been to the th-e-uh-tuh lately?

well, have you?

i must admit, it’d been awhile for me.

quite awhile.

like, possibly 11 years? (feel free to correct me if i’m wrong, dave).

Lynn Flanagan is Samantha’s Kindergarten teacher. awhile back, she promised her youngest daughter, Shaylee, that she could try out for a musical “one day.” that day finally arrived earlier this year. and when lynn thought about having to drive shaylee to and from practices all the time, she decided to try out, too.

and they both got a call back!

and then they were both cast for the show!

 fast forward a few months and my hiatus from attending the th-e-uh-tuh ended last saturday!

after t-ball and a quick lunch, samantha and i got all dressed up (we even had matching fingernail polish!) and enjoyed a mommy-daughter date along with some of our friends. Mrs. Geneva & Drew (our lone male representative), Mrs. MaryAnn, Lily Kate & Violet and Samantha & I piled into Mrs. MaryAnn’s minivan and headed to the th-e-uh-tuh in Mesa where we enjoyed a matinee performance of OLIVER!

IMG_7608 IMG_7609

IMG_7611 IMG_7617

we were all seated in separate sections, but with MaryAnn, LilyKate and Violet a short way behind us, we were blessed with this photo:

IMG_7639

before the show began, i read a synopsis of the musical to samantha (from the program). i had to explain things like “work house” and “orphan” and i had to sensor words like “murder,” but i think she got the basic gist of what was happening. or she simply nodded because she was excited for what was yet to come: HER TEACHER (and one-of-her-most-favorite-persons-in-the-world) ON STAGE!

samantha was pretty fidgety but she sat through act I quite well. we both thoroughly enjoyed searching for Lynn (aka: Mrs. Flanagan) and Shaylee on stage with each scene-change.

photo 2 photo 1

(many thanks to someone in our group — perhaps it was me? or perhaps not! — for snapping a few “illegal” photos during the performance!)

during intermission, we found some other kindergarten students (from mrs. flanagan’s class and from other classes!). and when Act II began, samantha had a much harder time sitting still. after a few scenes, she ended up in my lap. to be fair, there were some “darker” scenes and the music definitely added to the melodrama of the moment. 

as soon as the musical was over, samantha was ready to be up and out. she was out of our row and down the stairs (we were in balcony seats) before i could blink! i must’ve been quite a sight trying to chase her down in my shorter dress and higher wedges!

but then i saw what had her so motivated: she practically catapulted herself onto the Milk Maid:

IMG_7620 IMG_7621

(that’s her teacher, Mrs. Flanagan, the Milk Maid).

and then our friends arrived and we pulled out our cell phones and started taking photo after photo after photo…..

  IMG_7638

IMG_7636 IMG_7635

IMG_7641 IMG_7632

in the end, i’d say samantha had an extra special first experience with the th-e-uh-tuh!

the box: the musical

you read the title of this post, right? the box: the musical.

no. it’s not some weird joke that you don’t understand (or if it is, I don’t understand it, either!). it’s simply the name of a musical. The Box. the 1st grade classes (all 4 of them) performed the musical “The Box” at 2pm and 6pm on thursday, march 6th —- the same day i left town for a long weekend in washington  (another #momfail). davey even had a speaking part. yep. and i missed it. his FIRST musical. his FIRST speaking part. his ONLY musical with a speaking part in 1st grade. i repeat, #momfail.

after pleading my case to davey’s teacher (who then, in turn, plead my case to the music teacher), i was able to attend their FINAL rehearsal the day BEFORE the show(s). unfortunately for the photographer in me, the day BEFORE the show was also WACKY WEDNESDAY, so the kids were supposed to wear mis-matched clothing and have crazy hair and whatever else their minds could devise. davey chose to also wear two different shoes.

seriously.

it’s just another reason why i love him the way i do.

after signing in at the front office, i found my way to the cafeteria gymnasium theater multi purpose room where the hallways were filled with giddy and wound-up 1st graders who were learning “where to stand” in the hallway so they could walk into the multi-purpose room in an organized fashion. and i found davey pretty quickly and couldn’t stop myself from snapping some photos of him:

IMG_5672

unfortunately, most of them turned out rather blurry.

but i didn’t want to be too much of a distraction, so i hustled myself into the multi-purpose room where i discovered that i had a front row seat to the final rehearsal where the audience consisted of part of a 6th grade class, 4  1st grade teachers and myself. woo hoo! and then, DOUBLE BONUS, davey was in the front row (okay, not really a big surprise!)!

IMG_5647 IMG_5628

i was impressed with his use of the microphone and that he spoke clearly and slowly enough to be understood:

IMG_5651

at 2pm on tuesday, however, maryann was not as lucky as i was the day before. she arrived early enough for a front row seat…. but the “front row” was pretty far back from the stage:

IMG_8464

the 2pm showing, apparently, was also an all-school assembly with ALL the students from ALL the grades sitting on the floor in between the benches and the performers. this made photos kinda hard. but there IS a silver lining: dave was able to attend the daytime performance that day (nana and alex “represented” our family at the evening showing) so after the performance, maryann moved in close and snapped some photos of my guys:

IMG_8484 IMG_8505

dave said davey did a GREAT job.

and dave doesn’t say things just to make you happy. or to say them. or because he’s expected to say them. he says things because he means them. so even though i couldn’t be there for the actual show(s), i’m so-very-thankful to my family and friends who supported davey when i couldn’t.

and after pleading my case with my friend (who is a much better amateur photographer than i), she was able to attend the 2pm showtime.

back on the field trip circuit….

you’ve heard of circuit riding preachers, right? especially back in the days of cowboys and “settling” the wild, wild west, there were preachers who rode around parts of the country and performed weddings and funerals and Sunday services for a week or two or three before moving on to the next town. sometimes you’d see the preacher once a year and you never knew when he was coming. seriously. at least, that’s what i “interpreted” from reading multiple “set-in-the-wild-west” novels.

all that to say, i’m back. and you didn’t know when (or IF) i would ever return. i’ve enjoyed my unplanned 2-month hiatus, but life hasn’t stopped these past few months, so i hope to spend time letting you know what fun adventures we’ve enjoyed (or not enjoyed?) for the last little while. but it’s no fun to always talk about what happened “so long ago” so tonight, i’m sharing with you what happened TODAY.

seriously.

TODAY.

my last post was about samantha’s first-ever-field trip. and it was to the stuffington bear factory in phoenix, arizona. today’s trip was for davey (and the rest of the over-100 first grade students from his school) to the phoenix zoo. so this is where that weird intro about “circuit riding preachers” comes in…. i’m a circuit-riding-field-trip-chaperone.

yeah. it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. i get it. let’s move on, shall we?

it was an INSANE morning of TRYING desperately to get everyone where they needed to be ON TIME (including myself). i failed. alex was later to preschool then planned (one child had to use the restroom right when it was time for daddy to leave and take the kids to school. so after a LONG restroom delay, i finally agreed to take said child to school with me since i had to be there early for the field trip). and said potty-break-needed child received a TARDY slip today. partly his/her fault. a lot my fault. see, in my rush to get dinner prepped and eat something and pack FOUR lunches and drop of diapers at the neighbor’s (she took care of Alex after pre-school ended) and everything else i had to do to get us out the door, i left alex’s backpack behind. which contained half of her snack for preschool.

excuse me? yes. half of her snack. FOR HER WHOLE CLASS. (and just now, 13 hours later, i realized she didn’t take anything for show-and-share, which she only gets to do on Snack Helper days! #momfail). so we went home for that. then on the way to school (again), i realized my cell phone was missing. so back home we went. (seriously. i live 0.20 miles from the school or something ridiculous like that).  and i actually had to use the house phone (good thing we have one) to call my cell phone to find it (it was already in the car with us). so i FINALLY got the kiddos to school at 8:15. The kiddos are considered TARDY after 8:13 (when school starts). #momfail

so after ALL my running around, i made it to davey’s class, received my name tag, received my list of students (another mom and i were grouped together so she had already passed out their name tags and gathered their lunches) and i had a chance to BREATHE. and it was nice. and then my co-mom offered to drive. to the zoo? in phoenix? YES, PLEASE! and from there, the day went up, up, UP HILL!

now that uphill journey included 7  1st graders (5 girls and 2 boys), a step mom, a mom and a grandmom, heat like no-other (seriously, it was at least 93* today with NO cloud cover), a bit of complaining and whining x6  1st graders (i’m so pleased to report that my child is the only one who never whined or complained!) and the last-minute news that our field trip would be AN HOUR longer than initially planned. (the Zoo field trip is crazy – as a chaperone, you have a group of children and you’re on your own – aka: no agenda – at the zoo for about 3 hours. lucky us, we were on our own for 4 hours! ). Despite all this, God was so kind to me today. I really enjoyed my co-mom (the step mom mentioned above) and, more importantly, i enjoyed time with my son. and his classmates. but mostly my time with Davey. he’s not getting any smaller or any younger, you know. one day, he won’t want me on his field trips. or helping in his class. or eating lunch with him. so i plan to enjoy it while it lasts. because he genuinely LOVES me. unconditionally. and a love and acceptance like that is so hard to find these days.

at the beginning of our hot and LONG day, the kids were interested in EVERY little animal (and i do mean EVERY – the exclamations over turtles, regular birds and lizards at the beginning of the day was 1000x louder and more excitable than any mutterings about giraffes and zebras later in the day)!

IMG_7298

check out this moss-covered turtle:

IMG_7300

there were LOTS of baby ducks and geese wandering about:

IMG_7301 IMG_7309

did you know there’s an animal called a Warty Pig? and it’s different from the Warthog? i kid you not:

IMG_7306

there were four Warty Pigs in this enclosure. Davey and Shae named them all: Grouchy, Sleepy, Hairy and Fatty. I think. I may have to double check those names with Davey (he’s already in bed for the night).

IMG_7304

In an attempt to ward off any complaints of “i’m so hungry” LOOOOOOONG before it was time to stop for lunch, Bri and I agreed we’d buy Kettle Korn for the kiddos to share. so as I headed off to do that, i saw some animals with their handlers and called our group over to see them….

IMG_7310 IMG_7315

IMG_7323

i love the look on davey’s face in this one:

IMG_7324

and following a session of hand sanitizer/hand washing, we enjoyed a break for our mid-morning snack:

IMG_7331 IMG_7333

and then we set out to see some more animals because how can you see elephants, turtles, geese, swans, a turkey and a lizard and say “i spent the day at the zoo?!” you can’t, right? people would totally say “but what about the zebras and giraffes and lions and tigers and rhinoceros….?”

so we found the Andean Bear exhibit (aka: the Forest de Uco) and enjoyed the bears, some stingrays, some monkeys and birds and snakes and spiders and toads and i don’t remember what else. our group (nicknamed the “Yellow Giraffes” for the sake of not having to call out 7 individual names EVERY time we wanted to move on to the next exhibit), really enjoyed finding shade and climbing things.

IMG_7340

and we didn’t make it ANY further before it was time for a LONG lunch stop. (seriously. it was LOOOOOOOONG. and we STILL had to have one girl throw away 1/4 of her uneaten sandwich. )

but we persevered through the rising temps and the significantly diminished supply of drinking water and managed to see the otters, african dogs, dik diks, emu, mandrills, rhinoceros, lions and tiger:

IMG_7351 IMG_7349

IMG_7355 IMG_7362

before Mrs. Wilson’s #1 rule (“no complaining!”) was repeatedly broken. so we stopped for some water and a shade/sit down break.

and then we pushed the kids past their limit. we found the denning and the giraffes:

IMG_7363

before we sat on a slightly shaded bench in front of the zebras. where NOT ONE CHILD looked at the zebras. at all. not one. not even a glance. and we knew it was all over.

IMG_7366

(yes, that’s a GIRL in davey’s class holding him on her lap b/c the bench was full already!)

it was pretty impressive how quickly the kids PERKED UP when we told them we were going to a play area. the kids took off at a brisk clip and proceeded to enjoy playing “house” and “zombies” while we were in the tree house/creek play area. which was 100% shaded. and it felt SO. GOOD.

and yes, that extra HOUR on the field trip kicked our chaperone fannies. but after some play time and shade and a the final drops of our water, we all met up near the exit and managed to snap some fun class photos:

IMG_7376 IMG_7370

after walking up a SERIOUS HILL with the kiddos to make sure our SEVEN got ON the school bus, Bri and i were a bit “giddy” (or maybe we were dehydrated?!) and we enjoyed her air conditioned car on the drive home (which may have included a stop at McD’s for two VERY LARGE Dr. Pepper beverages with “easy” ice) before we were officially finished with our day.

to give you an idea of how “close” the timing of the end of the trip, the drive back to school and the end of the day was, Bri dropped me at my car in the school parking lot. i zipped out (before getting stuck in the pick-up lines), pulled my car into the garage at home and as i walked to my corner, my neighbor was leaving her garage with her double stroller (with her daughter and my daughter – neither one napped!), as she walked to pick up her kindergartener AND my kindergartener.

it was a long, hot, sweaty, sunny day. i have a mild sunburn. i might have a touch of dehydration. but it was worth it and i would repeat every minute of the day if asked.

because THIS guy is so very important to me:

sweaty