"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Weekend Projects

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It never fails that several months after Christmas, one of the boys will find a gift that was put on a shelf and forgotten about. This time it was a book about battery science, complete with battery and wires and motors just waiting to be played with. Paxton and I made a battery operated robot bug on Friday, then Spencer and Mike built a motor and made a doodle pen. Cool! Yesterday, we had a lazy Saturday morning breakfast of pancakes and eggs (made almost exclusively by the kids) and then spent most of the day out and about. First up were trips to Target and Trader Joe's; then to a boat store, an auto-parts store, and Home Depot... all for supplies for Mike's truck-tweaking project. Something to do with the air intake. The boys were very patient throughout all the store hopping, and were particularly in awe of the boat shop, that had everything from boats and trailers to kneeboards and tubes and water-skis. When we got home, Mike brought his project into the kitchen table so he could be social while he worked on it. Everett was more than happy to help, and the older boys got a kick out of the test drive around the block once he was done.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Swimming, playdates, and scorpion parties

July is almost over, and we're getting ready to ease into another month. We seem to go from insanely busy to nearly a stand-still, but the past couple of weeks have been pleasantly in between. We've gone swimming more than once, which is an odd experience in 110+ heat - the water is like bath water. The boys are getting more and more confident in the water, and I'm enjoying watching them learn... Paxton by jumping and kicking and sputtering and trying again and again and again; and Spencer the same way he learned to ride a bike: slow and steady. Everett is loving the water too, and has discovered the fun of jumping off the edge into our waiting arms.

We went on a playdate last week, and had another yesterday. Sandi, Mitch and the kids came down and watched the boys while Mike and I went out on a (exceedingly rare) date to the movies. Spencer apparently suggested a surprise party for our return, and we came home to a house decorated with streamers, paper balloons, and my personal favorite: giant paper cut-outs of scorpions. At least we can laugh about it.

Other random kid-related news:

Everett is talking up a STORM, and there is nothing he won't repeat.
Paxton is about to turn 6, and is trying on a new attitude for size
Spencer is currently fascinated with physics, and spending a lot of time playing with a new protractor.

We're still searching for another flip house, since our last one fell through, and spent yet another afternoon driving around scoping out possibilities. We've had our moments of frustration, but won't let ourselves lose momentum.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I stayed up way too late last night, going through old pictures of Everett to make a montage. Spencer and I were both crying by the end... him because the old pictures made him miss New Hampshire, and me because, well because it's exhausting to visit all of those feelings of love and wonder and heartbreak and happiness and pride all in one sitting. And set to music, no less. I love my boys so much. Here it is if you want to take a look.

View this video montage created at One True Media
Everett Michael

The lazy, hazy days of summer

The past few days have been some of the laziest days we've spent since we've moved here. And they have been wonderful!! I don't understand what the fuss is about when it comes to the heat. We just stay inside and don't even notice it. :) The boys and I have watched movies; played Playstation; played trains and racetracks and Sorry; challenged each other to online games of pool and chess; looked up hummingbirds and honey bees and spiders; watched Cyberchase, Zoom, and the Suite Life of Zack and Cody; played with pretend food and cooked real food.... And just generally enjoyed each others' company.

Happy, happy summer!!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Family, the Grand Canyon, and tarantulas

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Mom and Dad arrived safely back in New Hampshire this morning, after a wonderful, whirlwind week here in AZ.

Mike ended up getting the entire week off, so it was a happy - and welcome - vacation for all of us. They came late last Saturday night, and Sunday was a day of hanging out, catching up, and taking them on their first-ever trip to IKEA. We browsed for an hour, and I believe it was the first time that none of the boys had a meltdown by the time we headed out to the car.

On Monday, they headed up to Camp Verde to see (and stay at) their new house. We took them out to show them our first fix-up house on the way. The deal has since ended up falling through, but that's another story for another blog.

Tuesday was the 4th, and we headed up north to join Mom & Dad. Their house is completed, but empty, so we sat on camp chairs and stretched out on the new carpet. We played pool in the clubhouse, and board games in their living room. The view from their house is beautiful, and we were able to watch fireworks right from their driveway. We could see them going up and everything. The boys really enjoyed it, and Paxton liked the fact that because they were so far away, they weren't very loud at all.

On Wednesday, we all drove up to the Grand Canyon. It was a first for us McGrails, and we were not disappointed! The view was amazing, and we stopped at several look-out points before hiking a short way down the Bright Angel trail. It was quite a feat with 5 young kids (2 of them under age 3) but they did great!! Everett pointed out the mule poop every few steps, Paxton took pictures of a hawk we saw on one of the cliffs, and Spencer was having so much fun that he wanted to keep going after we decided we'd better head back. I can't wait to go again when the boys are older, and we can hike all the way down and camp out and everything. The ride back to Mom and Dad's took forever since we made about 92 bathroom breaks, but it was well worth it.

On Thursday we enjoyed a lazy morning and an awesome afternoon rain storm before heading home. We took the scenic route home and it was incredible! It was literally like we were driving through different countries... my favorite being the rolling green hills that made feel like we were going throught the Swiss Alps. I took pictures out the window like a tourist. Mike nearly gave me a heart attack when he suddenly gasped and slammed on the brakes. The emergency? He saw a tarantula crossing the road. We turned around and went back, and all piled out of the car, camera in hand. We watched it cross the road and go onto the shoulder. It stopped to let us look for awhile, then went on its way. It was actually quite beautiful up close, and very graceful when it moved. A couple more side-of-the-road potty stops, and dinner at Burger King, and we were home.

Friday morning, our bug guy came bright - VERY bright - and early in the morning. He's going to be coming more frequently since it is summer, and we have now seen three scorpions in the house. We were supposed to be going to our home inspection in the afternoon, but as I said above, it was a no-go. We did meet with a contractor though, so it wasn't a total bust. He was a great guy, very professional, and formerly homeschooled :) I'm sure we'll be using him on future projects.

Mom and Dad came back down here yesterday afternoon, and we were able to spend a few more hours together before we saw them off. It was a GREAT week! Now we just pray that their house in NH sells quickly, and that the next time they come, it's for good. And today we're resting, hanging out together, and still trying to figure out the best way to spend Mike's last day before he has to go back to work.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

New friends and visitors

Last Saturday, we experienced our first real summer day at the zoo. They have a splash area for the kids during the hot months, and they had a good time cooling off. We went with some new friends.. Someone I actually "met" online a year ago, who also has a son Everett's age. We found we had a lot in common, and had a nice day watching and playing with the kids. We met bright and early at 8, so we'd have plenty of time to explore before we were ready to retreat home to the a/c at lunchtime. On Thursday, Sandi and the kids came over for an extended playdate. Spencer was so excited about it, he could barely sit still all week. She was supposed to be an extra in a movie shooting nearby (but her scenes ended up getting cancelled) and planned to spend the couple of nights at our house instead of driving back north. Thursday the kids were off the wall, and settled down just long enough to bake muffins and watch a little TV. Friday was much calmer, and everyone played and colored happily together. They drew picture after picture, and cracked themselves up making flip books of rocks falling on people's head, and in Isaac's case, puppies hatching from eggs. :) I watched all 5 kids without a hitch while Sandi went to an audition, and Mike did the same while she and I went out for a girls' night out to paint pottery. Last night was pizza, and another lazy walk through the commons before bed. It has been a great visit, and has made the wait for our next visitors - Mom & Dad, who are coming TONIGHT! - go even more quickly.


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