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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

It's a Holly Jolly Christmas

It's nearly Christmas, and it's been another interesting month to be sure. This past week especially - a week that's usually reserved for Christmas planning and merriment - has been particularly... well, difficult. In the end though, in between hospital visits and gall bladder attacks, we pulled it off. We wrapped presents. We sent Christmas cards. I managed to make cookies with the boys. Out with the peanut butter kisses and black and whites (too depressing to make fat-free versions) and in with the fat free chewy chocolate mints, and fat free sugar cookies. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that my oreo balls were very nearly as good with reduced fat cookies and fat free cream cheese. Last night we snuggled up and watched Dumb and Dumber. While not your typical holiday fare, it was fun nonetheless, especially for my little (and big) Jim Carrey fans.

We bought a family Christmas present this week too - a 2004 Toyota Sequoia, with lots of space for us, the boys, and new little McGrail whose arrival is fast approaching. We loved it as-is, right off the lot, except for the tires and wheels. Mike desperately wanted to change them, and I asked him to wait to awhile, just because we didn't need the project or the expense at the moment. He waited 3 whole days before he bought new ones. :)

Another early Christmas present? Lindsay, a beautiful blue dumbo rat. We first saw that the store had blues on a Sunday. Paxton and I had fallen in love with them months ago, the first time we saw them. Mike wasn't keen on the idea of adding another rat at the moment, so we went home without one. On Wednesday, I went back with the boys and bought her. :) I think I'm sensing a pattern here? She is sweet and friendy, and the perfect addition to the crew.

We have a busy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year, so Santa is coming a day early. The boys are wildly excited that they get to get ready for Santa tonight, on the 23rd. Right now they are happily rolling another batch of Oreo balls, and later we'll relax with The Santa Clause, Elf and our traditional Christmas Eve reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas and the nativity story. Tonight they'll put out their milk and cookies for Santa. After a crazy month and an even crazier week... at the moment, everything is just as it should be.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Turkey Bowling

Friday night was the monthly Cub Scout pack meeting. Pack meetings are generally quite long and quite loud (says the overly sensitive pregnant woman) and this one was no exception. The boys were psyched about it though, because this month they were turkey bowling! I don't know what they did with all the turkeys when they were done - I didn't ask - but everyone sure enjoyed it. My camera's battery had died before I got over to Spencer's den during the bowling part of the evening, but I did snap him after receiving his Bobcat badge, one of several things he earned that night:

And for my random picture of the day....

The boys lost a ball on top of the roof. Being the industrious people that we are, we decided to knock it off with another ball. Now the boys had lost TWO balls on the roof. One did come down on its own, but the other decided to stay put. We don't own a ladder tall enough for Mike to climb up to get it, which left us with a couple options: Wait to see if it eventually blew down (which would be unlikely since it was on a portion of the roof that had a small retaining wall around it) or hoist one of the boys up. We were pretty much resigned to option A since neither Paxton nor Spencer were interested. A half hour later though, Paxton had changed his mind and wanted to give it a try. He was victorious, and incredibly proud of conquering his fear.

Projects and telling time

Spencer needed a project. It wasn't a specific project at first, it just had to be a project, and he wanted it to involve screws. I suggested he and Mike build me a new DVD case since I'd outgrown my current one. He was very excited about that, but it required more planning, materials and tools than we could acquire in one weekend. Then he decided it could be a little project, so we looked at Walmart, and he was very happy to find a model truck that was put together with... screws! Here he is working on it, and the finished product:

Since we were going to Walmart, Paxton decided to bring some money because he's been wanting to buy a watch. They didn't have a huge selection of kids' watches, but he did find one that caught his eye. It was black, and covered in flames. He's been big into flames lately. It was a regular watch though, not a digital one like he'd planned. He worried out loud that he didn't know how to tell time yet, and I assured him that it was something he could learn easily if that was the watch he wanted. He decided to get it, and we headed home. We piled into the car and pulled out of the parking lot... only to return to return 30 seconds later to retrieve the brand-new watch from the floor beside the ice machine, where he'd set it down to put his change into his wallet. With the watch finally safely in hand once again, I explained what was on the face and what it all meant. By the time we got home - maybe an 8 minute drive - he had time-telling down cold, and gave us frequent updates the rest of the night.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scout-O-Rama and caramel apples

It was hot. Really hot. Even for Arizona, especially for November. But the Scout-O-Rama (a huge, state-wide Scout fair where each pack sets up and runs a different, hands-on booth) was a lot of fun. Our pack did a booth about mining, complete with mining info, a "mine" for kids to go through - after Spencer outfitted them with their headlights - and a chance to pan for gold. After they were done with their shifts, we walked around and experienced a lot of the other packs' offerings.

The kids made caramel apples that same weekend, something I'd promised them we'd do as a family since they'd missed it at the Harvest party. It was a success, and the end result was of course, delicious.

Friday, November 02, 2007

News, notes & happenings

The mind reels that it could be possible, but another month has come and gone, and we are now officially into November. October was every bit as packed with activity as September, both good and bad.

I am now 24 weeks pregnant. I rang in week 21 with a several-hour stay in the hospital with incredible pains, the source of which was never discovered. I was pumped with fluids, experienced morphine for the first time in my life, was poked, prodded, given shake-inducing drugs to stop any contractions... and eventually sent home with instructions to call if it got worse. Whatever it was, it lasted 3 days, and then went away. Good times. That same weekend, our neighbors re-did their lawn, and Spencer and Paxton got to help drive the tractor - Spencer's idea of heaven; and my parents brought all three of them to Anabelle's birthday party. Life goes on.

The next few weeks went by in a blur. We spent an entire day unassembling and moving a swingset, and another setting it up. A kind person on one of my homeschool lists was giving it away for free, and since we didn't have one and always had it on our "someday" list, we jumped on it. It's been a lot of fun for the kids, especially now that it's cooled off; and the upper level makes a great hideway for a picnic lunch.

Mike took a day off so we could all go to AZ State Fair. It was a good fair, a HUGE fair, and the boys did everything from milking a pretend cow and "selling" vegetables, to riding rides, shooting balloons with darts to win stuffed animals, to completing a scavenger hunt and quiz to get a rattlesnake poster.

Because we apparently felt the need to squeeze as much into 2 days as physically possible, the day after the fair we set up a Zen garden:

and visited a pumpkin patch, farmer's market, and corn maze:

This past weekend was a trip to the zoo, where we saw it more packed than we've ever experienced, got to pet stingrays and sharks, and spent a long time watching the baby orangutan. I didn't touch the camera all day, but Paxton did snap this great shot of the bald eagle:

This week was of course Halloween, which meant carving pumpkins, dressing up, and trick-or-treating. They went trick-or-treating not once, but TWICE this year, as they went as a Cub Scout group to an assisted living home, as well as around our neighborhood. We were supposed to go a Harvest Party this week too, but ending up backing out at the last minute, because we were just plain TIRED. Everett had been sick earlier in the week, Spencer had his post-op eye appt, I had an OB appt... We'd finally hit a wall. Halloween was a blast though, and the kids have enough candy to last through the rest of the year.

As always, visit my Photobucket, under October 07, if you want to see even more pictures! http://s16.photobucket.com/albums/b48/thriceblessed/ Password is "fulton."

And finally... After an extremely stressful several weeks dealing with Everett's UTI issues, he underwent his tests last week at the hospital. They were as miserable as expected (as were the next few days) but the results were unequivocally POSITIVE. There was no reflux, no lesions, and absolutely no anomolies that required further study or action on our part. So for now, we chalk it up to another one of those flukey things, and pray that we're done with this particular issue.

And off we go into November!

Spencer's Eyes: Before & After

Spencer has always had beautiful green eyes. Thanks to the skills of his doctor at Arizona Pediatric Eye Specialists, his eyes are now even MORE beautiful. His vision is nearly perfect, his alignment is just as it should be, and he doesn't have to go back for so much as a checkup for another year.

BEFORE, the day of his surgery on Sept 11:

AFTER, about a month and a half post-op:

Friday, October 05, 2007

How Paxton lost his tooth

He's lost three now... his bottom two, and now his top front. It was loose for awhile, but wasn't quite ready to come out on its own. He inadvertently helped it along. We'd just gotten back from getting their Halloween costumes, and in his excitement to try his on he accidentally kneed himself in the face and knocked it right out. From the look on his face, I could tell he wasn't sure if he should laugh or cry. He chose the former. :)

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

September's highlights:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Offroading, Apple Picking, and Cub Scout Camp

And time keeps on marching by...

Another crazy couple of weeks we've had. I have pictures for all of it, but because they're trapped in a virtual disease land with my broken laptop, they'll have to wait till next time.

Our new truck got to go on another off-roading adventure, this time with the whole family. It was about a 5 hour run (which was a couple of hours too long for the nauseous, pregnant mom) but it was a fun trip in yet another beautiful part of this great state. We decided to rest our weary bones - and wash the grit out of our teeth - at a local frozen custard place. It had frozen coffee drinks that put even Starbucks to shame.

The boys and I went to a Not Back to School party with the homeschool group we used to belong to in Tempe. It had been over a year since we've seen most of the members, and a great number of them are new. We all had a great time anyway, and the boys voted unanimously to go to more of their events in the future.

Last weekend we headed north to check out an apple orchard in the middle of the desert. Spencer got into apple picking right away, and Paxton and Evertt enthusiastically joined in once they realized that the bees on the ground were indeed infinitely more interested in the dropped fruit than any passerby. We came home with three times more apples than we could actually eat, and we've been busy making pies, pancakes, muffins, and German coffee cake.

This past weekend we headed north once again, this time to Cub Scout camp. It was our first camping experience in Arizona, and Everett's second experience ever. The area was beautiful, surrounded with pine trees and mountain views. It reminded me of camping in the White Mountains, which now seems a lifetime ago. The trip was fun, and the nights were cold. We slept bundled from head to toe, which also reminded me of camping in New Hampshire. It was authentic *camping* (none of this wimpy cabin stuff), complete with a pungent outhouse nearby. We all used it at least once (except for Everett, who completely lost the urge to go once he stepped inside) but we timed most of our bathroom breaks for when we were further down the campground and had access to actual - albeit dark and scary - toilets. Saturday was packed with enough activities to last a week. The boys did obstacle courses, knot tying, fire starting, relay races, frisbee football, service projects. Spencer's group learned knife safety. Paxton's group went on a treasure hunt. Everett happily followed along, and tried many of the events himself. That night was the closing bonfire, where the boys received their badges, did skits, and participated in a flag retirement ceremony. It was a fun, if exhausting, day, and we all went home tired and happy on Sunday.

One of us came home burnt to a crisp with a sunburn, but no names will be disclosed... to protect the identity of the genius who spent an entire day in high altitude sun, in Arizona, without so much as a hat.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Five

I've been tagged.

Five things that I want my children to know before they grow up:

1. I will always love them, value them, and respect them.... Not for the people that they are going to be, not for the people that others think they *should* be... but for WHO THEY ARE, right then, at that very moment in time

2. You don't need to be in a church to find God. God is everywhere.

3. There will always be negative people in life, people who want to tell you you're not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough. YOU ARE. Forgive them and forget them. Focus on your true friends and family who lift you up instead of trying to bring you down.

4 Kindness and respect are important - both for others, and for yourself

5. Sometimes the unexpected detours end up being the best part of the trip

Now I tag you Erika! : )

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Daddy, there's two doors!!"

One of the side effects of Spencer's eyes healing is double vision. The doctor told him, and us, that it was common and totally normal during the recovery period, but I still worried that it would freak him out when he experienced it. Not my kid. He's amused and entertained by it. His vision is normal most of the time, but every now and then he will randomly, and happily, shout out, "There's two TVs! There's two doors! There's two vacuums!" This prompts Paxton and Everett to run over to wherever he's looking and ask if there is two of them. Sometimes there is, which amuses them all to no end, and sometimes it has already passed.

I love these kids.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rolling with the punches

What an interesting several weeks it's been. Good-interesting, or bad-interesting, you ask? Well if you asked the sleeping boy on the couch who's resting off the effects of his surgery (and his third time being anesthestized in as many months) I'd go with the latter. Ditto if you look at the morning(AKA ALL-DAY & NIGHT) sickness, the mounting stack of dental and doctor bills, and the fact that we were essentially kicked out of our initial Cub Scout troop.


Paxton turned 7, and rocked his party at the bowling ally:

We did find another Cub Scout group, and the boys are already busy working on their badges. Spencer earned his Journeyman badge, and they both had a successful day selling tickets to the upcoming Scout-O-Rama.

Mike finally got to take the new truck on an off-roading run, and since the big boys weren't interested that day (and I was sick with a lousy summer cold), Everett got to experience a Daddy and Everett day to remember:

Spencer is thankfully done with the ridiculous amount of dental work he needed done this summer, and Paxton and Everett are both going to get theirs completed in two weeks. Today was his strabismus surgery, which has more or less been in the works since he was 18 months old and was diagnosed. We always knew it was a possibility, and a month ago we were told it was a necessity. As with most unpleasant things in life, the anticipation was almost worse than the reality. It went off without a hitch, and he has been home - sleeping - all afternoon. He is uncomfortable and sore, but in typical Spencer good spirits. The recovery period is supposed to be brief, and as far as Spencer is concerned, the worst part now is that he has to have drops put in three times a day. My poor boy; he is such a trooper.

We're praying for a calmer month of October. The boys have some fun Cub Scout stuff coming up, we're going to the state fair, and we may - or may not - get involved with a homeschool group soon. We're not making too many plans, because if we've learned anything this year, it's that plans change. Right now we're just buckling up and preparing for the ride.


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