Monday, September 27, 2010

So eight years ago I became a mommy.
My beautiful Kelly turned 8 yesterday and this years theme was Tinkerbell.
In the last couple of years she has really started to ask for Tink t-shirts and movies.
I think that with her party she has almost achieved Tinkerbell overload.
Kelly received a Tink t-shirt, the newest Tinkerbell movie, Tink silly bands, Tink activity book and 3 Tinkerbell books.

We had a grand little party with the family and a couple of Kelly's friends Kiah and Madison.
I made the cake as I'm sure you can tell. I used my cricut cake machine and the Tinkerbell cartridge.
I will say that using the cake machine when it's still in the high 90's in AZ is not easy. Every 30 seconds I would have to put the marshmallow fondant back in the freezer to harden enough to move it without tearing.
But my second try at making Tinkerbell was successful enough that I decided not to try a third time. Thank goodness.

And since I'm rarely in the photos from any of the kids' birthdays I handed my camera to Rob and this is what he caught.

Me and my girl.
I'm so proud of her. I'm so proud of all my kids.
It amazes me how this awesome person came from Rob and myself.
As a parent, I think of how much I think I'm screwing her up but then she visits a friends house or I go to a school conference and I hear how great she is, how smart she is.
I guess we're not doing so bad after all.
Love you baby girl.
8 things about Kelly
1. She likes the color purple
2. A Brownie girl scout
3. a soccer player
4. loves music
5. plays games on my Facebook page
6. has a great imagination
7. she's a bossy first born
8. She is just GREAT!! (cheesy I know)
 Since I have so much to cover I'm going to break it into smaller blurbs so as not to overwhelm myself.
This past week has been the busiest we have ever been as parents. In some ways I like that the kids have activities and on the other hand I wonder how long I will last before I'm whining about having no "free" time.
Wyatt and Kelly have both started soccer this past week and their first games are this Saturday. This is gonna be kinda funny. I mean that in the cutest way because neither one of my kids really knows what they are doing. They barely know that in soccer you can't pick up the ball.
I also know that when photographers say you need a fast lens in sports you should listen. My wimpy 75-300 was no match for a feisty Wyatt especially on that cloudy Wednesday evening.
I'm hoping to get some better shots this coming weekend. Kelly's practice was canceled on Wednesday and then she had practice on Friday morning but I didn't get any pictures of her. I'm bad I know. Believe me I will be getting some shots of her.
I'm all excited for the kids and I sincerely hope that they enjoy this soccer season. If either one or both want to continue on playing next season I'll be all for it. By then I should know if it is worth going out and getting the soccer cartridge for my cricut :)
On Thursday we found the Boy Scout store and my little guy got to do some uniform shopping. He was very excited. But then so was Daddy and Grandma.
See once upon a time Grandma was a den mom and did scouts with her older sons, so she still remembers the uniforms and handbooks and such. When we told her that Wyatt had signed up and told her about his pack she offered to buy his uniform. We made a group trek to the store to get him outfitted and so that I could take some pictures. Out of the 4 I took, this one spoke the most.
Rob showed Wyatt how to put on his kerchief and how to put on his tiger cub slide.
When they have their pack meeting tomorrow night I plan to take plenty of pictures.
I can't wait to photograph him in full uniform.
(side note) I didn't take that many photos because Rob, his mom and Wyatt were crammed into this corner and the gentleman trying to help us was in my way, Grandma was acting a little grouchy and was a bit out of patience with everyone. I was also trying to corral Chelsea as she tried to take over the store. Kelly, Kelly was cool and just walked around looking at the different books and patches.

Also I have started to read his tiger cub handbook because I really don't understand the pack/troop thing. Being a girl, I'm used to girl scout troops and how that all works, now I want to understand the world of Boy scouts so that I can be a better part of his experience.
I think I just as excited for Wyatt as Wyatt is about joining.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So hanging around the kids school is this beautiful hawk.
Now I know I've talked about him/her before but I haven't been able to get a very good picture until this morning.
I still couldn't zoom in as much as I would have liked but I could see the bird lift it's talon and turn it's head.
This is such a gorgeous bird.
When we pulled into the parking lot the other day the hawk cam soaring across the playground and landed a tree.

Normally he can be found in this half dead eucalyptus. Once in a blue moon his/her mate will be on another limb.
Now that the weather is getting cooler I'll start to see them more.
I wished that I would have been able to hang out longer and get a picture of some wing action but I had Chelsea in the car and I had no clue how long I would be so I fired off these shots on my tripod.
It was so cool to see this bird look around and then down at me.
This haughty stare.
Well don't worry Mr. Bird I will gladly admire you from a distance.

My beautiful birthday present arrived the other day.
Cotton Candy by Natalie
I have wanted this strap, in this fabric for a year now and I was so excited to see and put it on my camera.
What's cool is that it is just a bit longer than the strap I was using and it fits better in my camera bag.
I can't wait to walk around and show off my newest accessory.
It's also made me want to make a couple more in different fabrics for my old strap and just interchange them out.
Since I have no plans on getting rid of my XT anyway. Plus it matches the camera bag I saw on Becky Higgins blog the other day that I would like to get   Missy-pink
I really like the damask interior and can picture a camera strap to match. which I almost got but decided on my cha cha carnival one.

I found a cool how-to on Moda bake shop website that I'm thinking of trying that show how to make camera straps.

I have more exciting kid news coming up this week.
Wyatt starts soccer practice today (hopefully not a rain out) and once we go to the store I'll show you Wyatt and Daddy's new journey. We are all so super excited. But first I have to get some pictures.
It has to do with this <-----

He is gonna look so cute.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Girl Scout Camp out 2010

Oh what a weekend!
Kelly and I headed up to Whispering Pines Girl Scout Camp this weekend with the girls from her troop this year and some of the girls from last year that have bridged to Juniors.
We had 20 girls, 3 moms and 3 troop leaders.
It was a crazy, fun, relaxing weekend.
Did I actually say relaxing?
Someone smack me.
The only time that was remotely relaxing was at 6 am, when barely anyone was awake and I was sitting and just enjoying the beautiful morning.
Our first project for the girls was to decorate shoe boxes to keep all their treasures in.
This is the stuff Kelly loves. If you were to look into her room you would find boxes, containers, etc. for all her treasures.
After lunch we went for a little hike down to this stream and little waterfall that has some big rocks that the girls could climb.
Ms. Kelly got half way up before she said no way and came back down.

Instead she spent most of her time playing in the water. The hike back up was a bit easier and we had the task of finding non-natural objects on the path.
Let's see, we had brownie stew for dinner and then went on a night hike to see the lights of Tucson.
It was so pretty and sooooo quiet.
We headed back to camp and had some s'mores. A few of the girls fell asleep sitting up. I know I was tired.
Poor Kelly was almost begging to go to bed but she was a trooper until after the s'mores where she then snuck away and went to sleep. Considering that she normally goes to bed at 8pm and it was about 9:30, I didn't blame her one bit.
And sleep, what is that? I was tired, but I didn't sleep well Friday night and thought I would just crash. Know what??? I could not sleep! I dozed a bit but really I only got a few hours and woke back up at my normal 5:30.
Oh gosh, the beds! Okay, so we have these twin size beds that have some wonderful springs and a four inch mattress. So wonderful that if you were a little girl they are comfortable to sleep on. For a mom, a plus size mom at that, that wonderful springy bed SINKS with your weight! My butt about hit the floor and my feet were pointing up toward the ceiling! We added a second mattress which helped, but it sure wasn't comfy to me.
Over the course of our time we made our treasure boxes, name tags and bandannas. Yesterday we earned our drama badge and oh, how proud am I of my girl.
We went through several drama exercises and in this exercise Kelly was given an emotion and had to say "I did it" in that emotion. She did awesome, the BEST out of all the girls. Seriously, no joking, you could hear her, you could hear the emotion and see clearly her expression. I told Rob that she looked like a natural on stage.
I will be honest and say that I teared up. To see how far Kelly has come, yes, she is still shy but more outgoing than she used to be. And to be the last to go and onstage in front of everyone. Wow!
Overall it was a great experience for both of us and my one and only regret is that I didn't get a single picture of us together.
I'm so mad at myself for not getting a picture of us but know this Ms. Kelly, that I took allllll these pictures and you are in most of them. Next time baby.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Almost a month ago I hit 35.
I've been depressed ever since.
We know about my dilemma about having a birthday party. This is/was the path I chose, to go on vacation, and I'm still having some trouble dealing with it.
I love birthdays, whether it is my family's or friends. Cards, cake, ice cream, presents.
The one day to celebrate you.
There is just one fly in the ointment.
 I hate my birthday.
That is a hard thing for me to say.
Let me try to explain and warning this could get long and complicated.
Most of my birthday party's have been just family, nothing wrong with that. All through my life most of my friends have forgotten when my birthday even is.
When Rob hit 35 I threw him this good ol bash, invited tons of friends, decorated everything in a Chinese flair and catered food. We agreed that every five years we would have a big sha bang. My 30th birthday was great! My mom, Rob and friends gave me a 80's themed  party which I loved. My best birthday ever. And I have been so excited for my 35th party ever since. Well until this summer anyhow.
So now I'm older and I thought wiser, but over the last year I have had a couple of friends have birthdays that basically have made me green eyed with jealousy.
It's not about the presents or the party either. It's the love that their friends have shown.
Both people have received lots of birthday cards, not just people saying Happy Birthday on Facebook, both have had friends take them out to lunch or movies. Their husbands have taken them out to dinner.

I've stated to my husband and others that turning 35 is really hard for me and I wasn't sure why. I think now I do.
Since Kim's death 3 years ago I have no close friends. I think I sincerely try, but making friends is so complicated and I feel really unsure what to do. Seriously, I feel like an outsider trying to find someone to want to be my friend. And making friends now is way different than it was in school.
Seeing shows like Friends, Sex and the City, How I met your mother, and reading books where the theme is women friends orientated just seem to make me want that type of friendship more.
Except I have no idea how to get it.
Last year I was part of a group that was learning how to quilt. I really liked each woman in that group and had hoped we could continue and grow closer but that group has since fallen apart. Also I had hoped that someone would join our home church that I could really connect with and that hasn't happened either.
Back to my birthday story rant.
So my birthday this year was no where near ideal. It would rank pretty sucky on most peoples lists. Here's how it went.
Got up and ready for the day, came back to the campsite where hubby gave me kiss told me if it wasn't for his phone he would have forgotten it was my day. Thanks dude but really you don't tell your wife that.
We loaded up our gear and headed to breakfast where Rob had the kids sing Happy Birthday to me in the car. Rob asked if the restaurant did anything special for birthdays but they said no. Eat. We hit the road. I get a text from my Mom that reads happy Birthday.
We make a couple of stops but we get home at 4:30 that night. I call mother in law to let her know we were back and thank her for providing dinner. She apologizes for forgetting that it's my birthday. Thanks, not what I need to hear
Get home, My mom had dropped off a balloon, which was immediately confiscated by my kids, two cards and some cupcakes. Thanks mom!! My dad tried to call but he was at a baseball game and couldn't hear me. Sigh.
That was my day. I got on Facebook and I had 14 birthday wishes and I didn't have the heart to say how much my day sucked and all I wanted to do was cry.( as I have been doing as I've been writing this out)

So I think my goal for this next year is to make sure I send a card (at the least) to people I like on their birthdays, so that they at least know that they matter to me.
I keep praying that God would make me into a person a friend would want to have and to teach me how to be a great friend. My other prayer is that by my 40th (gulp)birthday that I'll be in a much better time in my life than I am right now.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What do these things have in common.
4 clay pots, 5 plants, tree roots, fabric liner to the porch swing, gas hose to the grill, igniter wires to the grill, Wyatt's bicycle seat, streamers and handles to Chelsea's tricycle, the computer on the elliptical, the tension strap on the elliptical, the gas hose to the smoker, the power cord to the rotisserie, the cord to my mother in laws pressure washer, little people toys, a box of books, my doormat, a vinyl bar stool, 1/2 a bag of dog food, a few squirt guns, part of the potato bush, the water hose and sprayer.
I'm sure there is more but this is what comes readily to mind.
So what do they have in common???

In the two months we have had her this is just some
of the damage she has caused.
It is with a somewhat heavy heart that we have asked her previous owner to find her a new home.
It also looks like she will be with her new family tomorrow night.
This decision has been really hard on Kelly and not very easy for myself. I feel like I have given up on loving this dog because of her destructive nature. The sad part is she is such a sweet dog, she does fantastic with the kids but the last couple of days I have caught her with her paws on the table and the counter trying to get food. Now before you start saying I'm not feeding her enough, she gets 4 cups of food and treats everyday. She is not underfed, in fact she has put on some weight since we got her.
But I can't afford to continue replacing the items that she has chewed up.
I refuse to live with my stuff locked behind a gate so that she can trash the yard.
See once upon a time we had a dog yard, but when our last pet, my beloved Chester past we decided to make Braxton an indoor dog and turned the dog yard into the kids playground. This way Brax couldn't pee on the wood play set.
Anyway, we feel that it is Lucy's best interest to find a new home. It looks like she will be going to a great guy and we will wish them the best.
Total randomness
I love how much these three have grown over the summer.
There's hope for them yet :)
They have really begun to gel as a kid group to some extent.
Wyatt and Chelsea have eased up on the fighting and are helping each other out and of course big sis Kelly is always trying to be the bossy mom to all of us.
Now by no way am I saying they are great and perfect but when I look at last summer and compare to this summer.
I'm so proud of them.
You can say it was only a matter of time but in some families the youngest sibling can either be doted on or ignored. I wanted them to just be a member of the family. Because Chelsea is the baby I don't want her to be treated differently then K and W. On the same hand I don't want Kelly to feel she has to take care of her siblings because she is the oldest. They all have responsibilities.
Wow, this was so not what I was planning to write.
This past holiday weekend (Labor Day) we took the kids to Denny's for brunch. Because the restaurant was so busy we were seated in this extra room by ourselves for most of the meal. We had this beautiful light coming in from the north windows that was just lighting up the kids eyes and I just had to play.

When I say how happy I am with how much they have gelled together it was mainly because of this photo. Chelsea and Wyatt looking at each other with the same face.
Chelsea is a ham, at the dinner table she tries to make the others laugh and her newest trick is to blow bubbles in her milk and giggle hysterically.

Anyway this week is pretty much going to be random pictures of whatever catches my fancy.
From getting down low, to finding photography challenges to try.
I'm wanting to spread my wings and learn and relearn some new/forgotten techniques.
Through all the silly face pictures Kelly never changed her look!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Duh, duh, duh
So a few million years ago this volcano erupted and it spewed lava and ciders for miles around. It is kinda freaky to see a solid black cinder covering a side of a mountain and only a sparse pine tree here and there.
As we pulled down the lane toward the mountain it is a photographer's paradise.
There were at least three people with tripods not including those with just cameras.
Rob called it camera nerds paradise.

Beside this parking lot is a small bridge that spans this lava flow stream.
It was odd to see this one tree growing out of the lava bed.
Now that I can think and not feel rushed I should have stepped onto the other side of this bridge and included the bridge in the picture. I didn't because there was a couple also on the bridge and he was "teaching" his wife about the history of the volcano.

You leave the forests and begin to head into the desert and red rocks. You can see for miles around and yet you could drive right past this community and not know that it was there. Like I have said before, the people that found this place really ransacked it. This is sad because now you don't know what is original and what the park service has fixed. The kids liked walking around it and we talked about how the people might have lived.

This is walnut canyon.
It is hard to tell but this triangle shaped mountain is actually like an island surrounded by cliff dwellings on all sides.
It was 185 ft down and 224 stairs ONE WAY!!
The wind was whipping around us and at spots there was no protection from the edge of the cliffs.
The kids got such a kick out of walking through the rooms and seeing the blackened ceilings and doorways.
Dead trees and flowers were all around. Well I can't forget all the pine trees can I?
You can see where there were popped gas bubbles in the rocks, there were iron geodes that the park ranger pointed out.

The rooms were fairly deep but of course low, since Indians weren't that tall way back when.
I had to duck a couple of times and when we took our little picture my sunglasses almost scraped the ceiling.
Wyatt thought that it was so cool that my head could touch the roof.
Walking around was pretty cool but the climb up really wasn't that bad. Yes, I had to stop a couple of times and once I had a bad pain in my back but otherwise, slow and steady got me up there.

We headed back to town and some dinner. We decided that we would try and find some souvenir T-shirts for Rob and the kids.
Do you know we went to Walmart, Target, CVS and the next morning Walgreens and all they really had were Arizona shirts? A couple of route 66 shirts and one ugly styled flagstaff shirt. So we gave up that dream Sunday morning and after having breakfast at the Crown Railroad cafe we started our way back home.
We took a couple of detours though.
First stop was Montezuma's Well.
I really didn't know what to expect and I ended up letting myself down when I didn't follow Rob and the kids on this small hike carrying Chelsea. Instead I went back to the parking lot with Chels to wait.
I missed some pretty cool stuff. Maybe next time.
It was cute to hear the kids jabbering away about the stuff they saw, which was a stream and butterflies.
This well is fed by 4 natural springs which flow into this river that feeds the valley.
When your on top like this and looking down you don't see all the beauty that is hidden if only you climb down.
We loaded back up to head a few miles down the road to Montezuma's Castle.

Funny, I had know idea that where we were going I had only seen in pictures.
When we parked that river from the well was still flowing miles away.
Unfortunately you couldn't get too close to the river because of rock wall barriers, which is a good thing because recent rains had caused high water and some flooding.

I really wonder about the people who lived here.
You have these small cliff dwellings all around and then you see this huge housing development with levels.
Was it the city center? Was it the chiefs castle?
Imagine all the climbing you would have to do daily?
So after wandering around (it's not big at all) we headed to lunch at Sonic and finally drove the rest of the way home.
We pulled into the driveway after 4 pm and thankfully Rob's mom had brought us some delicious chicken stew and mom had delivered cupcakes.
Yep cupcakes, after all last Sunday was my 35th birthday.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Part II Grand Canyon
After a horrible night of sleep we were up very early and got ready for the drive up to the Grand Canyon.

If I remember correctly it's about 74 miles and there isn't a whole lot to see when you come up through the south entrance. We parked at Mather Point and began our rim walk.
Now to be completely honest, I'm not super excited about seeing the canyon and I soon find out why.
My fear of heights is a LOT worse than I thought. Figure in my small children, klutziness and no railings and I'm freaking. Seriously.
Most of the photos taken out on the edge were taken by Rob.
Anyway we walked from Mather Point to Hermit's Rest transfer where we took a  bus ride and hopped on and off. Our hike was 2.6 miles, it sure felt like more than that. The kids did fantastic, our only issue was that Wyatt kept walking and we were constantly having him stop and wait for us. We drug the tripod along with us and took several family photos. The one thing we hadn't really considered was that we had to face south into the sun for most of the shots and we have plenty of squinty eyed photos to show for it. Our other problem was as we entered the Village area is that we couldn't find water and we were almost out. They had bottle water to sell but no where to refill our water bottles.
So we hopped on the transfer bus to see a few key or famous locations. We stopped at Powell point, and Hopi point but by then we were all exhausted and hungry. So we skipped Mojave Point and the Abyss.
Rob jumped off at Hermit's rest, the last stop, to take some photos while we hung out in the air conditioned bus.
After a 10 minute wait we headed back to the transfer to catch the next bus that would get us to our truck.

The kids were such troopers and we are very proud of them. Very little complaining and eager to explore.
By the time we got to the truck we were all dragging and that's about the time that it started to rain. A chilly rain.
We decided since we came in the South entrance we would take the east exit and stop at all the views and points that our map pointed out.
Yes we did it in the rain.
Or I should say Rob did it.
I ended up doing the driving. The only bit of driving on our whole vacation :)
The last stop on the way out is the Watchtower. At this time the rain is letting up, I have to go to the little girls room and Rob wants to see this tower.
The kids don't want to leave the video they are watching in the back seat.
Since we were only going to be gone a couple of minutes we locked the doors and set off.
Rob and I walk up to the Watchtower and see the view and we almost immediately turn around to go get the kids. They had to see this.

Sunset was coming soon and you can walk up into the Tower so we took the kids inside to explore.
Afterwards as we waited for the sunset the kids got a chance to run around and explore.
Rob spent most of his time taking group pictures for other people.
The rain had moved on and the foggy clouds were lifting.
Further to the east was a rainbow and almost a double rainbow. Wouldn't you know I had taken my polarizing filter off my camera. dang it.

The weather changed so many times in that 20 or so minutes and each stage had it's own beauty.
By the time the sunset was over we loaded back to the truck and headed into the darkness for our camp in Flagstaff.
We arrived around 9pm, after a quick drive through McD's and ate a few bites before we crawled into bed and promptly slept like rocks.
Tomorrow Part III- Sunset Crater, Wupatki Ruins and Walnut Canyon