Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living the Dream with rice and beans

Holy frijoles! I am so excited. This weekend I will be "living my dream"--the other one. Not the one of getting married and having a family--living that one and very gratefully. No, this is my other dream, the one I had long ago but never has been tucked away but never quite extinguished. The dream of traveling to third world countries to provide medical service.  I made it as far as Chemistry 105 when I met Brandon and my first dream eclipsed the other for a time. I did finish my degree--in Spanish--and although I lament at times that it was a pretty unmarketable choice--it turned out to be my ticket to go on this trip.

But first, I must announce very happy birthday wishes to Kate. My oldest is now 11! She had a sleepover with a few friends (another thing kids will talk you in to) She was an excellent hostess and provided non-stop entertainment all night--at least until 11 p.m. when I told them it was time for bed then again at 2 a.m. because they didn't listen the first time.  There was a  steady stream of loud laughing and giggling so I guess that means they had fun.  Most of their entertainment thrived on the disgusting: egg races, eating baby food and guessing the flavor of the lifesaver inside, and something about digging for a treasure in a vat of raw meat.   Sick.
Kate got a pocket video cam. so she can film our reactions to her crazy pranks and send them into America's Funniest Videos for a chance at an easy million. She also got a book of easy piano Adele songs so that she will love practicing every day.
It has been a beautiful thing to watch Kate grow up and come into her own. She is a great babysitter and now dog-sitter and she continues to grow in talents. I think she will grow up to become a writer and illustrator where her imagination can charm, entertain, and even shock her fans.

So back to the dream....I will be flying deep into the innards of Mexico to volunteer as a translator for a group of medical professionals. I couldn't be more excited! My brother is one of the doctors. My niece is also joining as a pre-med student. When my sister heard us planning the trip she got downright jealous and now she's coming too. We will conclude the trip with a little Whale Petting excursion in Baja which is just icing on the already scrumptious cake!!

Getting this trip planned wasn't exactly as EASY as cake. I had some problems getting my passport--wrong form, delays, etc. Then travel alerts popped up for our destination. Some people thought I was crazy (Mexicans even) For one reason or another it seemed like I kept getting stymied and I almost gave up and thought it would be easier to just stay home.   It would have BUT then I remembered that some things are worth fighting for.
 Like the time I went on study abroad and had the chance to take an optional excursion to Macchu Picchu, Peru--one of my other dreams (I guess I have a few)  There were serious drug trafficking dangers going on at the time, some American students had just been killed in a plane crash on our same airline there a few days earlier, then I came down with a stomach bug, and weirdest of all, the day before I was supposed to leave I woke up with a sprained ankle!! Like an episode of bizarre ER, I don't know what happened just that I woke up and couldn't walk for the whole day. How was I supposed to get around the rugged ruins? I just prayed that everything would work out and it did. The next day as quick as my leg ailment appeared it disappeared.  We ended up going on the trip and I count it as one of the best experiences of my life. Certainly, it was  the most breathtaking and magical place I have ever visited.  Worth the fight no question.

So, I got on my war paint and bushwacked through the obstacles--like calling the passport agency EVERY day until that got resolved and other minutia.

I went to the doctor for some antibiotic--in case I get ill. I'll also be bringing some of my oils for the same reason. I came home from the store with scrubs, my own stash of TP  and some trinkets for the kids. Luckily there are lots of pockets on those scrubs. One of those is going to be filled with TP, another, my camera, and the rest I'll load up with stickers, candies, and little toys,--even clearance valentines because if those kids are like the ones in S. America they swarm up to with hugs and then just light up when you have a little something to give them.

Adios amigos. And as I assured Brandon, I WILL BE BACK.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dog Diary

It's official. We have a dog now.  It's been one week since this little puppy bounced into our life. And it just goes to show that kids can talk you into anything.
 This was Kate's Christmas gift that took awhile to get here...She is a miniature pinscher or "minscher pinscher' as Bud calls her. Kate named her Jade.
 Having a puppy is like having a newborn without the benefits. She's a bundle of trouble. She pees a lot (mostly in the right spots.) She spends half her time sleeping and the other half playing, which now that she has gained some confidence in her new surroundings, means chasing our feet and chewing our toes. She is not quite smart enough to know that one mis-step from us and she'd be squashed.
 My old nursing pillow has come back to life as the dog's perfect curl up bed. The fold-n-go has been the perfect pen and our old baby blankets are getting used again.
The first night we had her she up was every hour on the hour. Brandon and I took turns responding to her whining, getting her out, letting her play and then putting her back to bed.  That's when we realized what the manual meant about not spoiling your dog.  Oops.We've since engaged in "sleep training" which is like baby training only quicker because dog's have shorter memories, and as a result we like her better now.

It has been great to watch the kids take some responsibility. Everyone has to take a turn with dog duty. They all know how to get her to pee and poop in the right spot, and if she doesn't they know how to clean it up. They know to give her toys when she starts chewing fingers. They can give her food and water and make sure to police her out of unwanted areas with a firm "no."

We've been getting her used to wearing sweaters and going on walks. Tons-o-fun. Even Adrie is getting used to her--although she prefers the dog's company best when it's asleep.
Now if I could just figure out what to do with her when we go out of town....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Swiftly Seven

Adria turned 7 years old. She started out the day with cookie crisp cereal in bed, followed by a quick before-school game of present finding, called boola-boola. She found fun stuff like her own 2-L of soda and  rollerblades! They are exactly like the ones her older sister got for Christmas that she borrows so often. I had to text Santa on his beach vacation to find out where exactly I could get those exact skates. But, no harm done. He hooked me up and we got the job done.

I went to Adrie's school for a treat and story. Who would have guessed her favorite book was one full of dino facts?!  The kids gathered around the story chair and one boy groaned, "Please don't let it be a princess story."  Much to his relief and the other kids' delight I pulled out the dinosaur book and started reading aloud. Then I found out why Adrie, who dreams of being the class clown, chose this particular book,
                                 Over thousands of years the bones, teeth, footprints, and even poop....
cue roaring laughter from the whole class. 
I tried again, ...and even poop..
Again, volcano of uncontrollable laughter.
We finally got through the rest of the info to find out even dino poop turned to rock, called fossils.

Adrie had a good rest of the day with a little after school party, which wasn't quite as funny. Adrie  cried 5 different times.( She's saying it wasn't THAT many)  I guess it was too much responsibility to be the birthday girl. We went out for ice cream, made some glitzy rings, and played games.

Adrie's a great kid. She was our earliest talker and she's been entertaining us with her observations ever since. From her baby journal, age 4:
Adrie asked me today, "Mom what percent pretty are you?"
Of course I replied, "100 %"
Then she said very proudly, "I'm infinity"

One more--same age.
 "Mom, I know what a funeral is. It's when someone dies and you eat rolls."
Just when I was thinking that was pretty true, she said,
 "Get it?" Funa-ROLL......!
Here are a couple favorite photos from her quieter years...

Sunday, February 12, 2012


                                                                                                  What?!! Another beach post?! I know, I'm ridiculously loving it. But, before you go getting all gaggy seasick on me just know, I'm just doing my daughterly duties. If there's one thing I've learned from these road trips it's that driving is a lot more fun when you've got some good tunes to sing to. I like to call it CAR eoke. I add my own CAR eography as well. Also, AAA is a good investment. Fortunately I haven't had to use it--it's just the knowing it's there. Besides groovy music, we listened to an exciting fantasy adventure, Leven Thumps on audio CD. The kids did amazingly well (and there's another trick--lots of bubblegum!)

Anyway, we had a good time. My mom is still happy as ever. She had a few bad days while we were there followed by a few good ones and that's the way it goes with her. She certainly lives it up on the good days. If we weren't beaching it we were shopping or dining or sampling exotic gelato flavors or whale watching or dog watching; huge ones, tiny ones, even a couple of three-legged ones. I looked across the beach at one point and thought that if all the dogs suddenly turned into children we'd be on the Lido deck of a Disney cruiseship.

We did all the fun usual things and had some new adventures as well--or misadventures I should say-- mainly in the form of sleepus interruptus. My mom lives in housing unit converted into apartments.  Her neighbors love her and she loves them. She's the resident "grandma," and while you wouldn't guess it by the looks of them, they and my mom actually have a lot in common.
  • They love to party. 
  • A steady stream of visitors come and go
  • They're up at all hours of the night
  • They like to make music (guitar for them, keyboard for my mom--they ought to all get together on that one.)
  • They have their substances of choice (my mom's is chocolate.)
  •  Also, I think they all don't have jobs.
All this combines to be the perfect symbiotic relationship. It's only when someone with a regular working/sleeping schedule comes that their ecosystem is disrupted. That would be me.  I was startled awake at 2 a.m. by ridiculously loud rock music and its accompanying karaoke. At 3 a.m. it was BB gun target practice and shattering glass. When I groaned about it to my mom --who had just finished a refreshing little beach stroll--she went down to reason with the neighbors and the noise blessedly stopped. While I was up I looked out the window to see some cops making an arrest on PCH. If I wanted to be real bon homme I would do like my brothers and give them all my best with a case of beer. I guess I'm not because I didn't, but I did eventually leave so they could go back to they're partying ways.

We got to spend a couple days with my niece who came up for a visit. She is a lot of fun and force of creativity. I can't wait to tune in to the TV one day and find her hosting her own show of wardrobe makeovers and saavy decorating tips. That is her pictured above with my mom.


My mom signed up to have the missionaries come over for dinner. Seriously mom? You're dying of cancer and you're having the missionaries over for dinner?!  I would have cooked if I had known in time but she dragged herself into the kitchen just prior and threw some things together--one of her "prize winning recipes." This one however wouldn't have won any prizes.  The missionaries ate it which showed better decorum than my kids and I.  It did end well. In typical nana fashion we had a fabulous bakery dessert.  Mom has her freezer stocked full for entertaining purposes. She will be on her deathbed and offering eclairs with a glass of punch.

Well, heaven forgive my complaining because little did I know what a great blessing it would be to have the missionaries come. One young man was from Wyoming, the other from New Zealand. They had an enthusiasm and an aura about them that was so energizing and uplifting. I wished their parents could peek in and see their sons' wisdom and maturity. 19-year olds mature? Absolutely! And radiating goodness.  What a heart swelling moment that would be. We had a wonderful visit. They shared a message from the Bible and gave my mom a blessing 'that her afflictions would be but a small moment." I was so impressed with their good spirits and it felt so good to be around them, I  had the thought after they left that if I weren't already a member of their church, I would want to be--or at least learn more.

The kids handled the long ride home fairly well. They were pretty well wore out by the end of the week, as was I. We had to get back to watch my nieces 2 kids for the weekend and well, I have motherly duties too--like helping the kids make 3 valentine boxes and a combined total of 80 valentines.   When asked if he wanted to go back to the beach and visit Nana again Cannon quickly replied,  "No, I'm too tired at doing that." And besides, "it takes for a long time!"

It is great to be a whole family again and enjoy a full night's rest. Still,  I'd love to get BD to want to move to sunny CA and well, he's thinking an eternal summer is sounding pretty good about now--especially after a weekend of bailing out the basement windows from melting snow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunshine after the Storm

Brandon came home with a bronze medal from the unified special Olympics. I'm feeling a lot better about my camp assignment. Everything seems better in the morning after a good night's sleep and with the hope of a new day. It was nice to have some bloggy shoulders to cry on. I and the two younger kids are taking another turn with my mom at the beach. It was a different kind of Sunday for sure . It was in the seventies! We had a picnic on the beach, watched the surfers, found a treasure trove of creatures in the tidepools and spotted a whale in the distance come up and spout. I don't think that could ever get old.

  I was reading and found this most helpful passage of scripture... If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should say unto this water, be thou earth, and if I should say it, it would be done. And now if the Lord has such great power and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should....(insert your assignment here)

So yea, if Moses could lead a million Israelites to the promised land, I think I should be able to plan and carry out a an overnighter for a few dozen girls. Thanks everyone for your helpful comments. Peace out from paradise.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oh Me of Little Faith

It's a pretty sad night at our house if we're having mac-n-cheese from a box for dinner.  Brandon is away volunteering in the Special Olympics. He plays volleyball as a "unified" member on a team of "specials." I think I tried to explain this last year. Anyway, they are hoping to defend their gold medal from last year. Good stuff but that leaves me no adult to talk to-- No one to process the day with...and today needs processing...

I got an "assignment" to be in charge of the stake (community) young women  (16-18 year old girls) summer camp retreat. Gulp. It's a mouthful and a handful. To come up with an awesome mountain adventure overnighter thing and find some motivational speakers to fire up the girls into being awesome leaders to the younger girls seems pretty overwhelming.  I sure wouldn't have picked me for this job--What do I know about outdoor teenage adventure around these parts??! We don't even have 4-wheel drive.   I've got a lot to learn and I'm feeling suddenly very unresourceful but like all good things I know it will come together and turn out fine in the end. For now though, I'm just gonna have a good cry.