Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You mean I have to CATCH the ball?!

I have two daughters, whom I adore.

They are both very unique.

One reminds me SO much of myself.
And the other one....not so much! (At least when it comes to sports.)

For example....

Both girls play baseball. Syd puts her whole heart into the game. She gives it her all. She loves the competition, and loves trying to get better and better. She is not afraid of, well, anything really. (Except perhaps tornadoes!)

Then there is Maddy. Madelyn is not so much into the whole baseball thing. At first, she was downright unhappy about the fact that she had to play anything other than tee-ball.

"I'm scared," she said.

And me, being the sympathetic mother that I am, told her there was nothing to be scared of, and I was sure she would like playing.

(In my defense, Madelyn is always scared of "new" things. Take skiing for example. She was so nervous at first, but after a few runs there was no stopping her. In fact, she was usually the last one off the hill! So, I just keep on making her do things, like it or not.)

It didn't take long for her to realize that baseball is really not very scary. But....that is about as far as we've gotten. She usually strikes out (followed by a big grin....there's always next time, right?!) She would rather pull grass and dig in the dirt than worry about whether the ball might actually be coming her way. And if the ball does happen to come nearby, she is not sure whether she should be the one getting it or not. She doesn't want to step on someone else's territory!

Then there's Syd. She's a bundle of energy, stopping balls, tagging people out. She was playing pitcher tonight, and when the ball was hit to the outfield, guess who was out there helping out? You got it. Syd. Crazy girl!

Anywho....I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut during Maddy's games. I feel this constant need to encourage her. Or at least tell her to STAND UP!

It is quite comical. And who knows, maybe one day she will decide that she really does like baseball. Then again, maybe not! You never know with Maddy. Only time will tell!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What if a potato lands on my head?

Monday night began like this.

Friends and family gathered at the Morrison's in honor of Carly, the graduating, valedictorian senior of the household.

The kids played, we visited, we ate....good times.

After a while, a common scene unfolded. Brek visiting with friends, completely oblivious to his wifey, aka moi, who was holding a very tired baby ready for bed. I can't fault Brek, for you see, he doesn't lack in willingness to help. If I give him Ben, he willingly takes him. The problem, however, is this. When Ben is tired, he wants NOBODY but me. So, no matter how many times I hand him over, he soon ends up back in my arms. After a couple hours of holding him, I, too, am exhausted.

And there lies the problem. Brek so loves to visit with friends, that I simply wait it out, not wanting to drag him away. After all, the poor guy works SO much that I am happy when he gets to enjoy himself. Don't get me wrong....I love to visit with friends, as well. But, Ben doesn't always cooperate.

Anyway, enough about that. On to the meat of the story.

As the evening wore on the party moved outside. A nearby fire engine had drawn our attention, and there was much speculation as to what sort of accident may have happened. We later learned that there was an alzheimers escapee from a local care center, who had taken a serious fall, at which point he was finally discovered.

As that drama came to a close, we watched another scene unfold before our eyes. On the horizon, we watched as "something" rose in the sky. Was it smoke? At first glance, that was our guess. But as the dark cloud quickly grew, we ruled that idea out. Was it dust? Could it be?

The guys and Carly jumped in the car to go investigate. As us moms sat there watching, we all of a sudden realized that whatever it was, it was headed straight for us. We ran to get the kids inside!

As we ran towards the house, the wind began howling. Natalie ran to help the horses. Josh, Scott, and I ran to gather chairs that were flying through the back yard. The wind was so strong, it was almost impossible. Trista and the other kids watched from inside the house as a huge branch broke off a tree in the front yard, and the basketball hoop went flying.

"Get away from the windows!" Trista yelled.

Just as suddenly as the storm had come, it passed.

The dads returned to report that they had seen a funnel (tornado!). As they were driving, they looked out their window to see a wheel line (sprinkler pipe) flying through a field directly toward them. They gunned the car, and the wheel line flew past them a mere ten feet away. The wheel line hit a telephone pole and wrapped around it, sparks flying.

Back at the home front, the power went out.

After the storm had passed, we all gathered to share stories. Some of us were completely coated in dirt. Others (the older boys) couldn't believe they had missed out on the exciting car ride!

We headed home to assess the damage. Matt and Trista returned to a house full of dirt. Their front door had flown open during the storm, and everything was coated!

Once home, we discovered that our trampoline was gone. Where to? Nobody knew. The only sign we could find of our tramp were springs and legs lying in people's yards. Our BBQ was no longer behind our house, but was lying in our driveway. Did it fly over the top of our house? The two satellite dishes on our roof that had been flattened made us wonder.

Our neighbor across the street was missing part of her roof. Her chimney had ripped completely off and was lying on top of her roof in two huge pieces.

The neighbors rushed to help, trying to secure a tarp to protect her exposed house until help could come.

While working on the roof, our trampoline was discovered. It was on the opposite side of our neighbors house bent around a tree. We all agree that perhaps our trampoline had something to do with the chimney fiasco.

Darn tramp.

Scott and Josh were pumped. It's not too often we all survive a tornado, you know! They would run out to help their dad, then come running back in the house announcing that another "one" was coming!

All my kids would run to the shelter of the basement and wait until the huge wind gusts passed. Then the boys would run outside again to help. I don't know what time we finally went to bed. The girls and Luke all slept in the basement....just in case.

Before going to bed, Luke asked, "What if a "potato" lands on my head tonight?"

I am happy to report that there were no more tornadoes or potatoes that night.

Do you want to know what really stinks about this whole thing?!

No satellite Tuesday or Wednesday. Hence, no American Idol!! Are you flippin' kidding me? I am not a big TV watcher, but American Idol is my fave! So, I am trying really hard not to find out who won until I can get to somebody's house and watch it. With my busy week/weekend, it's not looking to promising. But, it's worth a shot!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And so we say goodbye to Squishy

There has been a death in the neighborhood. And as the friendly neighborhood photographer, I went to document.

Squishy was a chicken. Her grave site was lovingly decorated with rhubarb leaves, a tulip, and a "gravestone"....compliments of Caitlyn. Also, the leaves have been "decorated" and filled with little messages.

This is Caitlyn. And one of her chickens. Did I mention that my neighbors have about a bazillion chickens? Guess where I'll be going when I run out of eggs!

Caitlyn is Maddy's buddy. They are two peas in a pod. Both share a love of the outdoors and all small creatures. Both have a very unique style sense, as in NO style sense! Both have a flair for creativity (hence, the grave site). Caitlyn is always full of good stories.

Once I was finished documenting the death of poor Squishy, the kids began bombarding me with photo shoot ops.

"Take one of me trying to catch the chicken!"

"Take one of the chicken flying through the air!"

"Take one of me holding the chicken!"

I'll tell you what, it was good entertainment. And I thought all chickens were good for was their eggs!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Arrivals

I have always wondered if our cat is a boy or a girl. Not being an expert on cats, I was never quite sure....

until now.

Let me back up to this morning.

It was 6 am. We were all a bit sleepy-eyed as we began our morning routine. All of a sudden Scott came running in from the garage announcing that our cat had had kittens.

You can imagine my surprise, for you see, I had no clue she was pregnant! How could that be? Well, I have no idea. Our cat is not so much a lovable pet as a mandatory mouse killer. I give her food and say hello every now and then when she runs across my path, but I don't exactly snuggle up with her. Cat hair....yuck! You would think I would notice a fat cat, but hey, maybe she's just the type who hides her weight well.

I was so surprised when I saw the squeaking little kittens (Syd says they look like rats, and I would have to agree), that I wondered if maybe the kittens belonged to some other cat who had snuck into our garage to give birth. After all, they are all black! (That daddy must have some dominant genes.)

Soon the kids reported that the mama cat was nursing her 3 little kitties, so that theory was shot. I was forced to accept the fact that our cat had been pregnant and I didn't even know it. How long are cats pregnant for anyway?

She handled the whole thing like a champ, if you ask me. No complaining about morning sickness, no special food cravings, no complaints about lack of sleep or a sore back, no water retention. And you should see her now. She has bounced right back. She looks like she was never even pregnant. What a gal!

Later that morning, as though I hadn't been shocked enough for one day, I returned from Madelyn's talent show and found not 3, but 4 kitties latched onto their mama. Are you kidding me? Where did #4 come from?!

When I told Syd about the fourth kitty, she said the mama cat must have laid another kitty (sort of like laying an egg?). She corrected herself, however, saying the cat must have had another kitty.

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of not 1, but 5 cats. And considering the fact that 1 is pushing it as far as Brek is concerned, I will be looking for homes for the 4 kitties. They are brand new and come from a smoke-free, pet-free home....well, a smoke-free home anyway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Warning: This post contains an insane amount of pictures! But hey, how many times in your life do you get to go to Okinawa?!

Brek and I spent a wonderful week in Okinawa with Scott and Josh. We went to visit our friends the Days, who we love! It was so good to see them again!

For the first couple of days we traveled to the opposite end of the island (a whopping 60 miles or so) to Okuma. We spent a couple of days enjoying the beautiful beaches there. Just outside of our room, there were huge pine trees, and then the beach. It was like nothing I've ever seen before....very beautiful.

Scott and Josh went snorkeling for their first time! Brandon showed them all the tricks of the trade.

The kids had fun exploring, finding shells and sea glass, riding around on kayaks, snorkeling, playing in the sand, and going for tube rides.

Savannah was the one and only girl, and didn't like being left behind. Not being old enough for kayaking, she chose to ride around on this "sea bike" with her mom.

One afternoon, we caught a boat, which took us a few miles away from shore to snorkel at a reef. There were tons of fish. It was a little bit chilly, but once we finally jumped in, we were OK. Josh said this was one of his favorite things!

Jasmine, Brek, and I found a fun little restaurant nearby. Luckily we had Brek along (Brek served his mission in Japan), because everything was written in Japanese, and the waiters spoke no English. We sat on the floor in the traditional Japanese way, and cooked our own food on a grill right in the middle of the table!

One morning, the kids all rented these bikes (?) or whatever they may be, and rode around.

After leaving Okuma, we found another restaurant sortof hidden in the countryside. The surroundings were gorgeous. The restaurant was very open with waterfalls, and ponds filled with fish all over. They served the Okinawan specialty.....soba. Soba is a type of soup with noodles and usually some type of meat, and of course a big hunk of seaweed. Yuck! Actually the soup was pretty good, minus the seaweed. Once again, we got to sit on the floor. AND, for dessert, the kids all had huge bowls of shaved ice!

For the record, Scott did not actually end up eating that big slimy piece of seaweed. He chickened out. And, for the record, we all got quite good at eating with chopsticks!

After lunch, we headed to Neo Park, which was basically a zoo.

And here we found these two wild animals caged up! Oh wait, those are MY two wild animals!

We quite enjoyed reading the signs, T-shirts, and billboards around Okinawa. The Japanese didn't quite get their translations correct. This sign we saw at NeoPark is just one example. It was pretty funny.

One morning, we took the kids to an Okinawan park. Something tells me their playground equipment probably wouldn't pass safety inspections in the good ol' US of A. This is called a drop slide, perhaps because you reach out, grab onto a bar, and then literally "drop" straight down until the slide levels out! The kids loved it.

Brek loved the Japanese cuisine. I, however, am not exactly an adventurous eater when it comes to sushi and seaweed. Not my cup o' tea! But there were lots of other tasty things. I enjoyed lots of edamame!

On Saturday morning, Shane and Jas took us to a place called Kokusai Street. It is a street lined with stores, vendors, restaurants, etc. Josh was excited to find himself a "frolet"....or a frog wallet. After shopping around a bit, we headed for the beach (again!)

Hmmm, looks tasty boys. Rice wrapped in seaweed with some sort of "hidden treasure" in the middle. Count me out!

We ended the trip with an afternoon at the beach, and then dinner at The Garlic House (very yummy). The beach was gorgeous. It was more primitive than the other beaches where we had been. Brek and Shane went scuba diving while the kids snorkeled around and played in the sand. We, of course, did our usual sweep for sea glass and sea shells.

And then the kids decided we were in need of a fire. They scavenged up enough kindling and managed to get a fire going. Yes, they had matches, but only a few. After their first couple of attempts failed, Jas and I suggested they wait for their dads to return. They looked at us as though we were idiots and said, "Why?"

And much to our surprise, they soon had a flame going. Way to go boy scouts!

Finally, the day came when it was time for us to go home. Time flies when you are having fun. We were, however, anxious to get home to see our other kids. Shane had to fly to California and was able to get a ticket on the same flight as us. The only downside of the trip was that Shane, who is worked to the bone over there, wasn't able to get any time off work. So, he didn't always get to join us on our adventures. It was nice we got to spend a few extra hours with him.

Once we reached San Francisco, we were officially exhausted. And much to our dismay, our flight to SLC was delayed for several hours! Scott and Josh crashed. I didn't dare go to sleep, considering the fact that Josh slept walked while we were in the Tokyo airport and it took us a good ten minutes or more to find him asleep underneath some chairs a few gates down from ours. Yes, we were quite paniced!

Thank you SO much Shane and Jas for showing us such a great time! We love you guys!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh, the pain

Two and a half weeks ago, I ran a half marathon. And this wasn't just any half marathon! The first 8.5 miles were uphill. Yes, you heard me! Uphill! but the last 4.5 miles were downhill, so once I reached 8.5, I felt like I was as good as done!

I went with a few of my running buddies (otherwise I would never have gone!) And, although I was not excited about going, it felt so good when we were done.

(Thanks for the picture Garianne. I borrowed it from you!)

However, since then I haven't run once! So today I decided it HAD to be done. I ran four miles and survived....barely.

Good grief.

Oh well, serves me right.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Good to be Home

We are home!

After spending a week in Okinawa (yes, Japan!) with our dear friends, Brek, Scott, Josh and I returned home. And after almost 30 hours of travel, we were SO glad to be home!

We came home to a very green lawn in serious need of mowing.

(Nice Josh. Ever heard of this little thing called shoes?!)

AND we came home to this....

We were SO excited to see the kids, and they were equally excited to see us. Scott and Josh were very excited to see their siblings, and handed out gifts, which the kids eagerly accepted.

Then we showed them some "souvenirs" we found, courtesy of the Okinawan beaches....sea shells and sea glass.

We found this sea glass as we walked along the beaches. It is very pretty and unique. My friend Jasmine said she has never seen it on other beaches where she has lived (Florida, Texas, and California).

(Madelyn loves all things tiny and cute. Hence, we returned with many tiny shells.)

Scott was very excited to see his little buddy Ben, who he insists likes him "almost" better than me.

Throughout the day Luke has given me many hugs and said, "I missed you when you were gone!"

I missed you, too, my little friends!!