Sunday, May 30, 2010

Country Bumpkins

While this was the scene at our house last night (poor Kathryn!)....

...Pete took me on a date. Thanks to a great deal on (80% off!), we were able to go to a really nice Italian place. I didn't realize just how nice it was until we walked in and saw all the servers in suits and tuxes... It was one of those places where they fold your napkin for you everytime you get up from the table.

I hadn't been in such a fancy place in a long time, and almost immediately said something embarrassingly naive to the server. Pete tried to play the world-traveler, used-to-fine-dining guy who had a nice laugh at his bumpkin wife... until he also said something embarrassing. As I laughed and laughed, he read my mind and said, "And, no, you cannot put this on the blog! Some things are just good for staying between the two of us." But now I'm going to forget all these funny things years from now (or really days from now)! Oh well... At least I got a few pictures of our elegant time...

Our first date in a Chrysler (courtesy of Enterprise Rental Car)
Enjoying our sorbet topped with champagne between courses "to cleanse the palate"...

A couple of days ago I had snidely commented about how somehow "teacher appreciation day" had gone unobserved this year. Last night, in the middle of our happy dinner, Pete leaned forward, took my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, "Amy, there's something I want you to know. This is for Teacher Appreciation Day." Nice try, I said. This date had been planned long before he was "reminded" about T.A. Day. :)

Altogether, it was a very lovely evening, even if we were a couple of out-of-place country bumpkins!

Today, we took our whole, pale-bodied bumpkin family to the pool for the first time of the season. For Miles, it was the biggest deal of course...
At first he wasn't sure at all:
Then he started to get into it.... a little bit... ... but mostly was happiest when he could run around on land.
The other kids all loved it, though! Milo's main question is, "What do you think you guys are doing, putting me in a PINK FLOWERED floaty thing?" Oh well, Sweetie... This bumpkin family is too cheap to buy you a different one... especially after last night's dinner!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Accident (not accidental) blessings

Yesterday morning Pete left to take our car in to get the air conditioner fixed. The mechanic had ordered a part they needed from Saturn, which had come in, and so they were ready to fix the car.

A little while later, I got a call from Pete in which he said that just after leaving the mechanic's shop, he was in an accident. My first concerns were whether or not Pete was ok, and then if everyone else was, and how the the car was, where he needed me to pick him up, etc. But then, after hanging up the phone, I thought, "You have GOT to be kidding me! We just spent hundreds of dollars getting the air conditioner fixed, and now the car might be totaled!"

However, once I picked Pete up and got the rest of the story, I heard that this in fact was not the case. And in fact, that was just one aspect of the blessings we've received through all this. Here's the list so far....

1.) When Pete got to the mechanic's shop, they discovered Saturn had sent the wrong part. So the car never got fixed! Thank you Saturn -- and God!

2.) Pete is fine. I didn't realize how bad the accident was until I saw the car. Both the front and back are completely smashed. A pick-up truck plowed into Pete, who was stopped at red light, and pushed Pete's car into the one front of it, which pushed that car into the one in front of it. All of the people ended up being fine, although the woman in front of Pete was in apparent shock, and an ambulance came for her.

3.) The person who caused the accident had auto insurance.

4.) Right after it happened, our friend Bob, who is a police officer, happened to be driving by (off-duty) on his way to the beach. So he stopped and stayed with Pete, giving him a lot of good advice and help.

5.) Later, while Pete was waiting for me to pick him up at a Taco Bell across the street, in walked a friend of ours from church! Then, some of Pete's students came in, on their way to the Beach Project mission for the summer. I know he was thankful to have friendly people to talk to while he was catching his breath. All of this happened in Monroe, not exactly a small town, nor where we live... so I think it's cool that all these familiar people just happened upon him when he needed it!

It's clear that God's hand was protecting Pete in all this, and it's been another good reminder that even when "bad" things happen, He's right there in the midst, allowing nothing to happen that He's not a part of. I needed to hear that this week.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

By and about Strider

One of Strider's final Language Arts projects for the year was to write a story. It could be about anything, and then he was to make it into a book. Here he is showing off the finished result:

And here he is pretending to cry as he reads it... It must be a really touching story!
I copied his story verbatim, errors and all, to save for posterity (in case the fabric-covered cardboard version doesn't last). If anyone has some extra time on their hands to read, or is curious to see how this 9-year-old boy's mind works, here it is. It's called "A Really Great Book" and it's "by Marsh Mellow" (don't ask me):

Growing up, Jon loved football. But his parents hated it. They thought sports a complete waste of time. But every night, Jon would say he’s going outside. He would go 10 thousand cm. away to neighbor’s house and play football.

Eventually, he was really good. And so his friend told him to sign up for the football team. So when he games and practices he told his mom he was going to see the “newest movie.” He was so good, he won tons of trophys in his 1st season!

Buy the he was in high school there was two problems: one his parents were susipishous of him going to a movie every night, and two his started to become fameous, and being in the newspaper.

Jon started getting scholarships. He couldn’t believe his parents haven’t found out it was him. He started telling his mom he was going to hang out with his friend (Rowley).

Jon was now senior and he was picked to go to the all stars. That was a serious problem. The all stars was in California and he lived in Nevada. His friend Rowley said his family would take him. He told his parents that he was having a party at
Rowley’s. He thought it would work because the game was at 7:00 and since
the flight was short, leave for the airport at 1:00 and come back the next day,
they’d only be gon about 23 hours.

After the game Jon got a trophy. This one he decided to keep under his bed. It was a big honor. When Jon back his parents wondered why the “party” took so long. He just said It was fun.

Jon loved the All star game. His team was down by 5 with a second left and they came back and won with a hail mary! Jon thinking about telling his parents. But he fineally decided to tell them when he was in the NFL.

Jon decided to go to University of Arizona. They were
ranked 20th when the season started. They won they’re first game 55 to 0 vs. Harvard. Jon got 7 Td passes and 516 yards! He set a record!

But in game 2, Jon broke his back! He was in the hospiss. He was
born with severe back problems so that’s why he had to go to hospiss. His
parents saw what happened they called him. They were so mad they when he
got out he would have millitary camp as a punishment.

Years later he was one of the best soldiers ever.

Meanwhile, Strider is having a new adventure of his own (hopefully no secret ones like his protagonist was having.) He's joined our neighborhood Swim Team, so each evening, this is the scene as he hops onto his bike and rides off... supposedly to practice! We're looking forward to seeing how his swimming is progressing at the meets coming up...

Another day in the B.S.E.

As I walked home from the pool yesterday, I was thinking again about life in the B.S.E. (Broken Stuff Era).

To back up, I had put the 2 little boys in the double stroller, and with Rayna on her bike, we had traipsed up to the pool to watch Strider at swim practice for a few minutes. And as we came home, I was accompanied by a very loud "SCREEEEEEEEEETCH" all the way.

To back way, way up.... Pete bought me this double stroller as a gift (Mother's Day maybe?) back when Rayna was a baby. He got it 2nd-hand for $50, and it had already had a lot of use. And since that point, the sun visor has broken off the front seat, the front tray has come off, the back sun visor no longer stays up well, and the whole thing is just generally dilapidated. Not to mention the fact that it's so dang heavy, being of an older generation of double strollers.

I've seen people with nice fancy, lighter strollers that actually turn corners and have sun shades, and occasionally think maybe I should get one. But for the last several years we've been sure we're "almost done" needing a double stroller, so I can't bring my frugal/cheap self to buy a new one. So I trudge on, at a 45-degree angle, pushing my heavy, broken one.

A couple of days ago, Colsen in the front seat leaned forward, and broke the seat belt. "No problem," I thought. This is NOT enough to make me get a new one. So, last night when we wanted to go for a walk, I went inside to get a regular belt to use. I picked out one that I had made a few years ago, and never wear, to donate to the cause. It has long fringed ends -- not the most beautiful thing. I tied Colsen in securely, yelled "OK, we'll see you in a little bit!" to my empty house (so I didn't have to lock the doors), and off we went.

At the pool, Colsen insisted on getting out so he could see better, and then wanted to walk for a little bit. By the time we were ready to head home, I realized that the now-untied belt's fringe had gotten all tangled up in the wheel gear. In order to get it out, I had to break off most of the fringe, one at a time, scraping my knuckles repeatedly in the process.

Hot, sweaty and frustrated, I finally loaded Colsen back in and we started home... which is when the "SCREEEEEEEEETCH"-ing noise started, apparently from the remaining fringe threads still stuck in the gear thing. It was a rather irritating walk home.

But the good news is, we're ALMOST DONE needing a double stroller!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Yay! Ryan and Leyila are married! It was a beautiful ceremony -- the groom was crying before the bride even started down the aisle - I love that. And the reception was joyful and full of great food... definitely a fun time. Hopefully, Ryan and Leyila are now on a beach somewhere recovering from all the excitement of yesterday. I had forgotten how tiring weddings can be... and the only thing I had to do was manage the 2 smallest participants in the wedding.

Speaking of the little people, here's the Ring-Bearer:

And the Flower Girl:

Practicing their big job: walking:
And practicing their other big job: holding the basket or pillow.
Pre-wedding conversations with the lovely bride... Rayna was enamoured and curious.... And then the kids' big moment arrived!

Colsen, happily and rather unexpectedly, did exactly what he was supposed to do: walk down the aisle.

Rayna was the one with the more "interesting" performance...
When we had rehearsed, there hadn't been anyone sitting in the pews of course, so for the real deal, she came around the corner and.... spotted all kinds of fun people. Quite audibly she exclaimed, "Hey, there's Strider! And look at all these people!" She enthusiastically threw all the petals out of her basket in one grand gesture.... and then proceeded to stop and start visiting with the various friendly faces she recognized. She even side-stepped into one of the pews to say hello... As I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat in the front row, trying to decide how much of a scene I should make to call her forward, she eventually got herded by the friendly faces all the way up. Whew.

Colsen, meanwhile, had left her in the dust, keeping his eye on the prize, which was a promised piece of gum from my purse.

With that nerve-wracking part of the show out of the way, I could now sit back and enjoy the rest of the ceremony....

Here comes the Bride!
Pictures afterward:
I was proud of my little participants. :)

We managed to get a couple family shots at the reception:
Fun day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

We'll see how this goes tomorrow...

Rayna and Colsen have the special honor and exciting adventure of being in our friends' (Ryan and Leyila) wedding tomorrow -- Rayna will be the the flower girl and Colsen the ring-bearer. We've been looking forward to the big occasion for months now.

I have to say, though, I'm a little apprehensive of what exactly Colsen will do. Rayna is a veteran now, and is thrilled to wear a beautiful dress and play a role in the big day. Colsen, on the other hand.... well, for one thing, when I had him try on his suit to see if it fit this week, THIS is what he did:

In typical male fashion, he went on and on about how his neck was "TOO TIGHT!" I hope we can wrestle (bribe) him back into the outfit tomorrow.

This evening we had the rehearsal. Rayna followed the instructions quite well and loved having her pretty basket to carry. Colsen first had a fit about how he didn't "know everybody" and needed an adult to stay with him for every step of the way. Eventually he calmed down, but I can't say his performance was stellar...
(notice the football hold)

He mostly did a lot of this:
... and this....
....and this!
So we'll see how it goes tomorrow....

But as our friend Sandy (the wedding coordinator) assured us, regardless of what Colsen does or does not do, Ryan and Leyila will be just as married! So that's something to celebrate. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Daddy's home!

Somehow we all survived 10 days without Peter. It was the longest he and I have been apart in the last 12 years -- and it was very weird. It was also way too long for Miles to be without his Daddy apparently because when Pete got home, Miles kept running away from him, scared. Poor little guy -- and poor Pete. :( Now he's warmed up to him, though.

We had an interesting time while Pete was gone. There were highlights, such as having Gee-Gee here to read books to the kids and play uncountable games of Uno, Candyland and Boggle. Or building super-tall block towers at Nonna and Poppa's.

And there have also been so not-so-highlights, such as when dishes full of food or drink got dropped and shattered into tiny shards all over the floor, or when I discovered the garbage disposal was broken, and had to keep putting my hand down in it to pick out all the nasty garbage. Or when I discovered the dishwasher was no longer working.

But then there were more highlights, like when my father taught me that garbage disposals have a re-set button and it turned out it wasn't broken after all! And when I discovered the dishwasher wasn't really broken either!

And then there were more not-so-highlights, sometimes at night, such as the fact that Rayna suddenly needs much less sleep than she used to apparently, and refused to go to sleep earlier than between 9:30-10:30 pm any of the nights. And because she wasn't sleeping, she was either waking up her brothers, getting into things she shouldn't, or, as I found out at 11:30 one night when I came up to go to bed, pouring water in and out of her tea set -- all over her bed and Miles' crib. So for 2 nights in a row, I had to change the sheets on both beds, as well as both of their pajama sets, while both kids were sleeping.

I never got quite enough sleep, of course, for the last 10 days. It brought a sense of accomplishment, though, as I realized I hadn't been awake before 7 am for 10 straight days in a row in many, many years!

And it also brought apparent brain fatigue... as I did some rather dumb things this past week. For example, I was getting all frustrated that our memory card reader wouldn't take the memory card from my mother-in-law's camera. I called 2 different people to help me... before James diagnosed my problem: I was trying to insert the camera battery into the card reader. Oops.

So, just in the nick of time, Daddy is home.

And he even came bearing gifts, to everyone's delight! The kids loved their new shirts...
and personalized items... ... and I received plenty of much-needed chocolate! Since a vacation is not on my near horizon, my chocolate mini-escapes will have to do. :)
I'll post pictures from Pete's trip soon... I think he had a slightly more exciting time than we did!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

If your mama's a llama, then you must be a....

This is one of the things we learned today on our little field trip to a llama farm a couple of miles from our house. The very friendly couple who owns them (there were about 60 llamas there today!) took us all around and taught us about the capabilities, history, thought patterns, and care of these curious and gentle animals.

According to the couple, it actually costs less to maintain a llama as a pet than it does a dog! I have to say, I'm very tempted to get a few of these creatures... they were very sweet.

And smart! The woman showed us how she's trained this one to do an obstacle course and perform tricks for shows they go to...

The kids all got to take turns shepherding a llama around...

....and Gee-Gee had plenty of opportunities to shepherd Milo around... It was a fun little excursion, practically in our backyard!