Wednesday, September 30, 2009

To Drug or Not To Drug

I have come to the conclusion that I am allergic to Arizona. Maybe not the entire state but at least the northern section. Maybe it's the cooler temperatures. Maybe it's the towering, majestic, beautiful trees. Maybe it's the lack of emissions in our neighborhood. Maybe it's the lack of fast food in my system. Whatever it is, I am allergic to something.

For the past week Dylan and I have been fighting allergies like I've never known. We have all the classic symptoms: sneezing, running nose, congestion, red and itchy eyes. I give him Benadryl hoping he will sleep it off and it does the opposite for him. He refuses to nap - ugh. I skip the Benadryl because it does make me sleep - sleep like the dead. I take Zyrtek which has been my wonder drug until now. Now my allergies laugh at my attempt. Last night I reached my limit. I called the clinic and they gave me the go ahead for some Benadryl on top of my Zyrtek. It did help me get through the night without being bothered by allergies. It may have been that I was sleeping like the dead by nine o'clock! Great night time option but the day is going to be long. I just don't feel right about making Ethan babysit his brother and mom all day while I'm drooling on the pillow!

On a some-what unrelated topic, the school sent home a permission slip for the flu shot for my kids. All the kids can go in and get it for free. For some reason, the flu shot always freaks me out. My Grandpa Larson said Grandma had some sort of reaction to it when she got it about thirty years ago and he warned me against taking it. Do I dare? Do I not dare? I've never had my kids get the flu shot and they've been okay so far but this year and this location is a bit more scary to me. We have tourists from all over the world carrying who knows what here year round. Our medical care isn't the most comprehensive, although I've been impressed with the clinic so far. I was on the fence and then I saw that if you haven't had it before, you need a booster shot a month later and I thought that was a bit of a hassle not to mention the boys will remember in a month how it felt getting the shot in the first place and I'm not sure I can lift Tom and Logan in the car and strap them down fast enough to get to the clinic. Do we do it or not?

The news had stories of healthy kids dying of the H1N1 virus and that is really frightening to me. I know the flu shot I'm talking about doesn't protect from the H1N1 virus but for me it's the first step to overcoming my fear of the flu vaccine. I'm sure the school will be offering the H1N1 shot in the future and I guess I need to make my decision. Who knew that being the mom would be so hard some days? To drug or not to drug? What's your answer?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two Hours of Joy

I'm writing this so one day, when I have grandkids and my boys and daughter-in-laws tell me about the escapades their children pull in church, I can show them proof that I have lived through it.

We only have a two-hour block here. It is lovely to only try to keep Dylan reverent for two hours, don't get me wrong. The up-side is the short amount of time because our branch is so small that it can't really staff the positions needed for a three-hour block and one hour of Young Men's or Young Women's would be pretty hard each week with just one of each in attendance. It's nice that Sacrament Meeting is only one hour. Not one hour and fifteen minutes. The extra fifteen minutes make all the difference. Really. It does.

Now, the flip side. We are the only kids in our branch. We are the "nice young couple" that brings their kids to church each Sunday, the kids that make it so the not so young couples can't hear a thing the speakers say - especially since there isn't a microphone. We are the "family with all those boys" that try to keep the noise to a dull roar each week. We are the parents of the kid that says, not in his whisper voice and while doing THE dance, "I have to go potty!" during the middle of the talk. We are the family that spreads the Fruit Loops across the whole row. We are THAT family.

Each week someone from the branch comes up to us and tells us how great it is that there are kids in the branch. They tell us they have all been there. They tell us our boys are soooooo good. They tell us kid noise is what makes a branch feel right. They tell us that one day, all too soon, they won't be making all that noise and we should enjoy it while they are young. I'm still not totally convinced that it isn't an assignment from the Branch or Relief Society President to pat us on the back in order to keep us active. What would they call that calling anyway? Bishop's cheerleader?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Danger Zone

This week we got to babysit a couple of cute kids while their mom was out of town and their dad was at work. They are three and two years-old, so they fit in perfectly with my boys. The youngest is an adorable little girl that is about the same size as Dylan, in other words, petite. The first day passed without incident. They played pretty well together and it made me realize just how energetic and noisy and full of it my boys are because our new friends were so quiet and nice. When their dad came to pick them up, they were still happy and healthy and wanting to come back. That was then.

Today is a different story. After a week of their mom being out of town, they are a bit more tired and cranky. Still adorable though and by far the easiest kids I've ever seen. I sent them out in the back yard this morning to play because Dylan was having a day and needed some space. The sun was out and the temperature had started to climb so it was perfect.

We have a trampoline and an old fashioned swing set and slide in the back yard to play with and they had a great time earlier in the week. Today, they hadn't been out there more than an hour before the sweet little girl started screaming/crying. Ut oh.

She had fallen off the slide ladder and when I say she scraped her face, that is an understatement. It is red from eye socket to jaw bone and from nose to half way to the ear on one side. Just scratched but the kind of scratch that looks awful. Why is it that kids only do this at other people's houses? How will the parents - that I barely know - handle it? What would you do if it were your kid? Only time will tell here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Organized Chaos

Since moving here, we've been constantly downsizing, organizing, trying to find a place for everything, and rejoicing every time something gets used up or worn out so we can get rid of it. It's a constant battle. I'm what you would call a "type A" personality and have been struggling with the continual mess. It's not that I have spotless house ever, far from it, but usually things have a home and we get them there regularly. That hasn't been the case here.

It seems like every time I start the organization process, I quickly become frustrated with the lack of space and throw in the towel. It makes me crazy! We still have boxes in places but no where for the contents to go so they just sit in the corner waiting for me to sort through the precious belongings and decide what isn't precious any more. I've become much less attached in the past few weeks. It's amazing to me how much stuff six people can accumulate and not really ever use or need!

Today I had to find a place for my jars of peach jam in the pantry. This has been one of the worst spots for me. I love food storage and, even though we had been eating out of our storage and not adding to it for some time, there was still too much to organize on the shelf space we have here. We basically cut our food storage space in half. Gary bought a couple shelves and that seemed to help. He put one together and started stacking random items on it. Even though things weren't as crowded as they had been, there still wasn't room for two dozen pint jars if I wanted them in one place. I had to tackle the pantry.

An hour later, the new shelf was organized and space was made for the jam. I even got rid of the four more boxes that were packed with random food items. You can now walk across the floor of the pantry without stepping over boxes and coolers and jugs of water. You can easily find the boys lunch items. I know how many cans of tuna we have - way, way too many. I can replace the virtually empty shampoo bottle in the bathroom without running to the store because the ones in the storage room are lost. It's a lovely, lovely feeling. Maybe I should start working on some of the other boxes. Nah. Baby steps.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Smell of Fall

It's felt like fall here for quite some time. The nights are cold, mornings chilly, and afternoons perfect. Since the majority of the trees where we live are pine, we don't really see leaves change. The drop in tourists has also been a great indicator that fall is here.

Today, my kitchen smells like fall too. I had a box of peaches from the co-op that needed to be canned in one form or another for a few days. Today I had a few hours of peaceful afternoon that I figured would be perfect to turn that box of ripening peaches into some delicious jam. Little did I know that today would also be the day that Dylan and Ethan decided to forgo their naps. So much for the peace and quiet!

After hours of sticky, sugary, bubbling goodness, I can now look at two dozen pints of yummy jam ready to go in the pantry for the winter. Until I had to buy a jar of jam at the store recently, I didn't realize how good the homemade variety is! It takes me a while to get over the mountain of sugar that goes into each batch though. Honestly, I think it is twelve parts sugar, one part fruit. Maybe that explains why it tastes so good.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Spicy

This weekend we made an all too quick trip to Phoenix to visit with the Moss family (thanks a ton Brandon and Coleen!) and learned just how much warmer it is in Phoenix. We've been here freezing in the mornings, wanting to clean out the chimney so we can start a fire in to warm up the house in the mornings, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and smelling that familiar scent of fall for a couple weeks now. Phoenix isn't anywhere near cool. Wow it was warm! In fact, it was warm enough that when the boys were jumping on the trampoline, Ethan said he couldn't jump anymore. Why not? The tramp is "spicy." Yep, spicy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Hikes

One of the benefits of living where we do, is the opportunity for hiking right out our back door - or front door for that matter. Sunday afternoons and evenings are a great time for our family to enjoy the area by taking a family walk. Here are some pictures from one of our recent hikes through the park.


Tom and Ethan playing tag on a "rest" during the hike. Tom would let Ethan get pretty close and then jump out of the way before Ethan could tag him. For some reason, this didn't seem to bother Ethan. Just the opposite, in fact. He started laughing so hard he couldn't even try to tag Tom!

Logan during the game of tag. He loves this fire shirt Gary brought him back from Florida even though it is three sizes too big. Every weekend he seems to wear it.

Gary decided to have the boys build a rock tower along the side of the trail. He told them that each time we came along this trail we could add to it and watch it grow. Ethan was all excited to build the tower and started finding the biggest rocks he could carry.

Not to be out done, Dylan also started picking up rocks and throwing them at the pile. By some miracle, he didn't hit anyone. All he wants to do is be big!

The completed first stage of the tower with the mighty builders and the ferocious watch dog.
We found a tree that a woodpecker bored a hole into. Each of the boys had to have a look inside the tree. I'm glad Gary was with us. I can't lift Tom and Logan anymore and it was just high enough that they needed a boost.
The journey home. Dylan "hiked" most of the way on Gary's shoulders. The boys each carried their back packs with water and snacks and jackets in case it rained. Ethan's looks HUGE on him but he insisted on carrying it the whole time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giddy Up!

Church doesn't start until 1:00 here in our little branch. That gives us some time to kill in the mornings before getting ready. Last Sunday, this is how Dylan came out of Tom and Logan's room. Logan is really into costumes and, for some reason, Dylan was in the right mood for Logan to dress him up. I may be the mom, but I think he is adorable!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fundraising Nightmares

Let me just start by saying I understand why the boys have PTA fundraisers. I know the PTA is important and does great things for the school. I know they need money to do that. I know they search for the best fundraisers they can. I know. I know. I know.

BUT,

The boys are in the middle of a fundraiser for the school right now. The pool of potential candidates is very limited in our neighborhood. Almost half of the people living in our neighborhood right now are seasonal employees that won't be here when the fundraiser comes. They've had two orders from our neighbors and I count that as a success.

This fundraiser has an Internet option for out-of-town family and friends. Gary registered online and I sent out the mass email. My great Aunt Karen placed an order and sent me an email letting me know how many "prize credits" the boys receive. Who can't live without another downloadable game and book of puzzles? I checked their website to see how many orders they've received and it shows zero. I called and the nice lady on the other end of the phone says that she can't find the order. I have to send Karen an email back saying she has to do it all over or send me her confirmation number and I'll call the company again. How many other orders are out there in the black hole of the company's website? Grrrrrrr.....

Oh, and the deadline is tomorrow and Gary is out of town for the day. Won't get back until too late to deal with any of it. Of course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Four-Year-Old and a Family Home Evening Lesson

Last night was the night we try to have our weekly Family Home Evening. I say try because we don't always succeed at having it, and sometimes we only get through half of it before someone makes someone else cry and then they have to go to their room, or something else happens that is totally unforeseeable.

Last night, was a bit more successful. A bit. Ethan was in charge of the lesson last night and I kept asking him if he would like some help preparing - you know, since he's four and can't read words with more than four letters. He repeated the same answer over and over. "No. I can do it. I'm going to give my lesson about clocks."

Clocks. Hmmmm. Okay. Who am I to judge. In the back of my mind, I had the whole tie-in. Clocks tell time. Heavenly Father has given us time. We need to use it wisely to do good things. Gold star on my forehead for a wonderful lesson from one word. The self confidence I felt should have been my first clue.

After a rendition of "I am a Child of God" that made me laugh because we were all singing at different paces and were more off-key than usual, we ventured into the lesson. Ethan, sitting next to Gary, started off, "I am going to talk about clocks."

He then turned and gave the rest of the lesson while STARING at Gary. His expression-filled eyes were even bigger than usual. He was serious. He had given this a lot of thought and knew exactly what he was going to say. He went on to tell us why clocks are important. You know, you need them to know what time it is so you won't be late for school and work. If you didn't have them, oh the horror, you might be late for work or school because you would get up late and then just hang around and play and not leave on time.

At this point, I am crying from laughing, on the inside of course, and Gary, bless his heart, still had most of a straight face. It's here that the humor became more than I could take. Tom raised his hand and Ethan diligently called on him. Tom went on about the different types of clocks, digital and non-digital. They talked for a minute while Gary and I just sat there trying to keep our laughter stifled. Next, Logan's hand shot up. He too had some comments on the importance of clocks and the different noises they make from the alarm clocks that are useful for waking him up in the morning to the tick-tocking that the annoying clock buried in his top drawer makes. It makes it hard for him to sleep you know.

Well then. What a lesson. It had some of the best audience participation we've had for some time. Spiritual message? Not sure.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Omlet, with Lettuce Please

We have a list of things we want to do and see while living here but we've been so busy with fires and gathering firewood that we haven't had much time to tackle our list, until Monday. Every weekend (and I guess holiday) there is a Native American art and craft show in the square in town. They have booths full of beautiful jewelry and trinkets made by the Navajo tribe as well as dancers. Monday, as Gary was heading out for his two loads of wood, he noticed that they were also selling Navajo tacos. We thought, in order to reward the boys for all their hard work during the weekend, we would head over about four o'clock and see the art and dancing and then wrap it up with dinner.

We got there about 4:30 and found many booths full of jewelry and a live country band playing. No dancers. As we moved our way around the circle of booths, we got closer and closer to the end without spotting a Navajo taco. Apparently, they just sell them for lunch, not dinner.

Not easily dissuaded from a dinner out, we reassessed our choices. McDonalds, Wendy's, the pizza place, a steak house that promised high prices, or the Tusayan Cafe. We opted for the Tusayan Cafe. Off we went and boy, were we in for a treat.

Tom and Logan weren't interested in any of the choices on the children's menu (except for maybe the Prime Rib- yeah right!) so we let them order off the adult menu. They are really on the edge of the child's menu anyway, at least this time they would be assured adequate food to fuel those growing bodies. They decided on an omelet. The waiter then asked if they would like a baked potato, rice pilaf, or french fries with that. I thought that was a bit odd but what kid wouldn't like french fries with every meal? Then he asked if they would like soup or salad. Their answer? Nope! We ordered them salad, with Ranch dressing.

After the waiter left, Logan started in about how he didn't want lettuce on his omelet. They had never had so many choices with their dinners out before. Ordering from the adult side of the menu was a whole new experience and Gary and I hadn't properly taught them about the complexities of sides and starters.

Logan didn't even want the cheese on his omelet at first that we talked him in to having so it wouldn't just be scrambled eggs. How could they put lettuce on an omelet!? He was sure it would be all put together until his meal came. Salad first - with blue cheese all the way around, yuck! - and then the omelet. It was then that he was asking where his ham was and why Tom got ham and he didn't. Seriously!

The food was, well, awful. The company was, well, amazing. The experience was, well, one we won't soon forget. I guess we're down to choosing from the pizza place, steak house, or the two fast food entries!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Late Bus

Kids at the Grand Canyon School have a few different options for riding the bus home from school if they are in elementary school. Since the junior high and high school kids also attend the same campus, there is the early bus, the late bus, the late late bus if there is a practice for one of the teams, and the night bus for times there is a sporting event at night.

The early bus leaves after elementary school dismisses at 3:00. The late bus leaves after the older grades are done at 4:00 and the late late bus and night bus leave sometime after that - I haven't had to deal with those yet. My boys ride the regular 3:00 bus that gets them home by 3:30 most days.

Today, however, there is an after school activity for the 2nd graders. We have a school/community garden and they have been invited to participate today by spending time helping in the garden, and eating the fresh produce the garden has ready. Just like a field trip, we sign a permission slip and let them know that they will be walking home from school or riding the bus or we will be picking them up. I also need to get Tom from scouts tonight, so the timing made it right for Logan to ride the bus home. I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous for my little second grader to be riding the bus home with all those "evil" older kids! Even though he rides to school with them, coming home will be a bit different. He won't have Tom with him this time.

Luckily, there is one other kid from our branch that rides the bus in our neighborhood. I use the term "kid" loosely because he's in high school. I asked him if he would look out for Logan and he agreed. Keeping my fingers crossed here that it goes smoothly. I never thought that I would be sending my boys to school at 7:30 in the morning and not see them again until 4:30 or 5:00 when they were in 2nd and 4th grade. Crazy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Scouts

In Idaho, Gary and I served as the Cub Masters for our little, but growing, pack of scouts. I thought it was a great job. One meeting a month to plan and one to put on and in between I could schedule my time around the boys. There wasn't a weekly obligation that I needed to plan and carry out. That was my problem. I think I said that out loud.

Here, there isn't a church sponsored pack. Since it is community run, they rely on volunteers without the calling from the Bishop. They needed someone to help with the Wolf and Bear dens (2nd and 3rd grade here) which contain six total boys. The mom that volunteered in the past is mid-chemo and, although she wants to do it again, can't get it started for a few weeks. I told her I'd help her.

That's when the guilt started to set in. Here I am, healthy, sitting at home, wishing I could meet more people, hoping the boys actually advance and have regular meetings so Logan's first experience with scouting is a good one. What excuse could I possibly come up with that is more worthy of not doing it than chemo? Really?

So, long story not quite so long, the boys are all coming over to my house today and we will be having our first scout meeting. I should be scouring the web for information and planning helps. I should be creating my advancement tracking spreadsheet to be filled in when the boys bring their books today and I can see what they already have passed off. I should be doing anything other than blogging but, in blogging defense, writing down this commitment helps me to get my head around it and figure out just exactly it will work. Wish me luck!