Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gramps is a Fighter

Many of you know that I asked for prayer for Gramps about a month back. Thanks. By the grace of God, Gramps is walking (with a walker) again. It's a miracle he's alive, let alone walking. Gramps is such a fighter.

About a month ago, Gramps went out for a drive. He was in a bad accident and was in the hospital for over 3 weeks. He had spinal surgeries and was told that he might not ever walk again. He had therapists coming in every hour to teach him how to walk again. He had severed the nerves at the base of his spine, which also led to other complications. It wasn't looking too good for him.

The day after Christmas, we went to go visit him. This is when we got the full story. The day of the accident, he was driving on the 15 freeway, near Fallbrook. Someone in the lane next to him swerved, so he automatically swerved to avoid them. If you know the 15, you know that the 15 is built up from the road, down below. He careened down the enbankment 50 feet. Witnesses said he flipped back over front 2 times, and side over side 3 times before landing on all 4 wheels at the bottom of the hill. All 4 wheels, right side up. That part is amazing in itself, but the fighter part comes next.

Gramps was coherent the whole time. When his car stopped rolling, he smelled smoke and gas. He had the where-with-all to turn off the engine, undo his seatbelt, and open the door. Ok, let's just be honest here. If that was me, I would probably have passed out on the first flip. Just in case I was still coherent at the bottom of the hill, I probably would have been screaming and struggling with the seat belt. But that's me, not Gramps. Gramps stepped out of his car. Stepped. Walked away from the wreck.

Trip on this, he had a BROKEN BACK! Witnesses had called 911 while the accident was happening, so crews were on scene pretty fast. The paramedics asked Gramps how he got out of the car. He walked.... with a BROKEN BACK! He's such a fighter. He doesn't even take a broken back laying down.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Mother's Thoughts

Everyone gets nostalgic around Christmas. Mother's get nostalgic on their children's birthday. For me, that's the same time. See, today is Jack's 4th birthday and I thought I would write his story here. This story is for you, but it's also for me. I like to remember............

It really all started Christmas 2004. Joe and I had been married 2 years and we still had not started our family. We were at my Grandmother's house and of course, family was asking "when?". "When?" You don't ask a woman who has been trying for over a year, "when?". You don't ask a man who has already seen a specialist and done all their tests, "when?". That simple word can spark tears. And, I cried. We shared our struggle. Not a new struggle to our family, as my cousin also had battled "when?" and the doctors came back with the answer "never". As we were walking out to our car that night, my family laid hands on us and prayed for a family that would be pleasing to God. I'll let you absorb that for a second.

I continued on with the doctor's tests. Joe was cleared, so the "problem" must lie with me. The last test they wanted to do was to inject me with dye and see where the dye would go; IF it could go. I broke down in tears (again) and told them that I didn't want to continue. I sat in my car in the parking lot, sobbing. Sobbing. I couldn't even start the engine. Sobbing, and praying. Lord, I want YOU to get the glory. I don't want the doctors to get the glory. I dried my tears and went home; verified that I was not pregnant.

One month later.............. I got pneumonia. I was so tired. I couldn't walk from the couch to the refrigerator to feed myself. Joe had his father fly in from El Paso to take care of me. He made my meals and drove me to my doctors appointments. He was (and is) so sweet. A friend came over to bring some soup and took one look at me. She said, "you're pregnant". I said no, that I just had pneumonia. She suggested that I take a test before my next chest xray. hmmmm, come to think of it, am I pregnant? I had just spent the last 19 months counting days, taking temperatures, buying umpteen pregnancy tests. Could I........? hmmm. But, I was way too sick to go to the store to buy a test.

Yep, you guessed it. Joe's dad. Picture this: a 70 year old man, with broken English, walks into Walgreens and asks where the pregnancy tests are located. I can only imagine what the lady must have been thinking. Oh, and when I asked him to get me one, he said, "they make tests for that?". So cute.

Well, since I am writing this story, you can probably figure out what the test revealed. WE WERE PREGNANT! After all this time! Did the doctors make it happen? No! God gets all the glory. When I finally gave up my control, God gave me the greatest gift; motherhood.

However, the story doesn't end there. You have to hear the delivery story, as I think it's pretty funny.

Oh, and by the way, it was the most beautiful 9 months of my life. Never sick. Glowed from head to toe. The world's cutest belly. And I could eat all that I wanted. Oh to be pregnant again.............

I was speaking to a friend, who just happened to be pregnant at the same time, about delivery. I was joking around saying that I need an aspirin for a papercut, and that I would definitely need drugs for delivery. I am so glad that she gave me the Bradley Method book. There was so much about my own body that I didn't even know. If you don't know, the Bradley Method teaches women how to work with their body during labor to deliver naturally. Beautifully. The way God intended.

Sarah, my super good friend, agreed to be my doula. She had taken time off work at Jack's due date, so that she could be with me. Well, we all know about due dates, right? You might as well give due months, instead of due days. His due date came and went. Sarah had to return to work, in Yosemite. In winter. When snow can close the one and only road out. Come to think of it, snow could close the only road out of Oakhurst too. hmmm.

December 23, our church had a Christmas carol event. We went to church that night and sang Christmas carols for hours, while sipping hot chocolate. It was so much fun. Sarah came home with us, but had to return to work on Christmas day. Three am I woke up with a BIG contraction. When you are pregnant for the first time, you keep wondering, how will I know? What does a contraction feel like? Let me tell you, I KNEW! I quietly went to the living room to do my meditation. I kept track of the times and intensities. At eight am, I went into Sarah's room to tell her that today was the day. She was already awake. She had been laying in there, praying for me, since six am. And she didn't even know that just through the wall, on the other side, I was already in labor.

We woke up Joe, to let him get prepared. What were the first words out of his mouth? "Today?! I have to go Christmas shopping today." Well, you're having a baby today. Don't get me started.

I continued to labor and track at home for a few more hours. Sarah was wonderful. Joe read the newspaper.

When we felt is was time, we drove down the hill to the hospital, about one hour away. At first, they didn't want to keep me. I told them that I was not driving back up into the snow. I was staying put in the waiting room if I had to. Funny thing. I got a room right away.

Again, Sarah and I made a wonderful team. I had my relaxing nature sounds music. We breathed. We visualized. She fed me ice chips. Joe read the newspaper. There must have been some good news that day. I wouldn't know, as I never got around to the paper that day. Every time he turned the page, he had to rattle it real loud. Uggg. Sarah nicely suggested that he go get some coffee.

When he brought the coffee back, he slurped it so loud. Every sip. I'm trying to get in the zone, here! I'm visualizing my cervix opening, here! Sarah suggested Joe go to Home Depot. Ahhh, peace and quiet.

Soon after, I got the feeling to push. Sarah called Joe to come back. It was time! An hour later, he strolls in. Folks, the Home Depot is across the street from the hospital. And what does he say, "she hasn't had the baby yet?! See, I know I should have walked around the store one more time." Anyone else getting the feeling that my husband is uncomfortable in this situation?

One hour later, Jack Isaiah Rodriguez is born. Naturally. Beautifully. With all glory to God. On Christmas Eve, 2005. Remember how my family laid hands on me at Christmas? Jack was born within that year. Glory to God.

"“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high." 1 Samuel 2:1

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh come, let ALL adore Him

I love Nativity Scenes. I can stare at them for hours. I imagine what Mary must have been thinking/feeling. I think about Joseph (who is often forgotten). I mostly think about Baby Jesus. My Best Friend. My Saviour. My Love (I am His bride, afterall).

I have many different Nativity Scenes, each different, yet the same cast of characters. Before we had children, they were set out on coffee tables and end tables. They were admired, but never touched. Never. They might break.

When the boys were born and became mobile, up went the Nativity Scenes. Banished to high perches on shelves. For, the boys might touch them. They might break Baby Jesus....... break Jesus.........break the One who was broken for us............

If I want my boys to have a personal relationship with their Saviour, why won't I let them play with Him? Why am I afraid they might break Him?

Let me tell you about my favorite Nativity Scene. My mother is another one who loves Nativity Scenes. She too has them all over the house. She has one that is very humble. The "stable" is made out of bark. It is coated with hay. The characters are all scratched up and broken. The angel's wing is clipped. But, as a kid, I played with that Nativity Scene every December. All December long. Ten years later, my sister played with the Nativity Scene. For a short while, there was a Cabbage Patch angel in attendance at the Miraculous Birth. Along the years, one wise man has lost his treasured gift. We're not really sure if it was the frankincense or the myrrh. That doesn't stop us from loving it all the more.

This morning I went out to the living room, to look at the Nativity Scene. Guess what I found there? Even Avatar creatures and monster trucks were in attendance. "Oh come, let us adore Him."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Skype Hype

Friends and Family

Joe and I have recently converted one of our cell phones to internet service for the netbook. Although I am extremely happy with having the net at home, it is a little inconvenient not having 2 cell phones. Sometimes, Joe takes the phone to work and I am left with no phone. And even if I do have the phone, we reduced our non-Verizon minutes by half. Friends have been telling me about Skype. Free calls with a webcam. Pretty cool as our new netbook came with a webcam.

So, instead of me typing in all of your names and searching for you, comment me back if you are on it and like it. Or better yet, if you do like it, add me as your contact on Skype. I am saved as Susan Rodriguez, Lakeside.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Craft

One of the best things about being a teacher, is that you are surrounded by greatness.

A Kindergarten teacher that I work with, had extra Christmas crafts for Jack and Josh. This one was so easy. You get a styrofoam cone, toothpicks, and mini-marshmellows. Snap the toothpicks in half. Stab a mini-marshmellow with the toothpick and then insert it into the cone. Jack did very well, I thought, for being only 4 (almost) and the Kinders are 5-6 years old. His looked like this:

Joshua, on the other hand, is a creation unto his own. He made the tree just fine. It was cute, although it didn't have as many marshmellows on it as Jack's did. That's funny, I thought I gave him the same amount. Somehow they were disappearing. I could not imagine that he was eating them all, as I don't like marshmellows, hence I never buy them for the kids. At the end of the project, his tree looked ok, but after 5 minutes in his bedroom, this is what I found:

Do you think Josh likes marshmellows?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Hate Xmas

No, I am not a Scrooge. Quite the contrary. I just hate "xmas". It is the most blatant omissin of Christ, our Saviour. The Creator. The whole reason we are here. Christmas is the celebration of God humbling Himself to come to earth to save us from.... well, from ourselves.

I LOVE Christmas! My house is decorated to the hilt. My mom even used to have Christmas toilet paper (I draw the line somewhere). So, imagine my frustration when I tried to find a nice Christ-centered background for this blog. Lots of Christmas trees and Santas and snowmen. By the way, I have nothing against snowmen. But, I wanted to focus on Christ. The current one is ok, but still not my favorite.

As I began to write my annual newsletter to be included in our Christmas cards, I was shopping for Christ-centered stationary. Granted our town isn't that big, but I still went to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Hallmark, Walgreens, Safeway, and Dollar General. I had to settle on snowmen.

I have been reading this new (to me) blog and like everything she has to offer. She was talking about advent calendars and I thought that since the boys are older, they are ready for it this year. Again, I looked high and low. I would have even settled for a chocolate advent calendar. Of course, someone would have to sacrifice and eat all the chocolates so that I could stuff Bible verses into the slots. That someone could have been me. But no. No advent calendars. We made a paper chain with a different Bible verse or activity on each link. The boys are counting down the days that way and seeing that Christmas is not all about the presents and Santa.

Then, I came across this. I couldn't have said it better myself, so I am just going to include a link and you can read it straight from her. We need Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

God is Good

God is so good to us, and most of the time we don't even realize it.

As many of you know, I drive quite a distance to work everyday. And it's not just a distance, it's also down the mountain. Even once I get there, I'm not completely safe, as teachers have had their vehicles vandalized in the parking lot. I'm talking slashed tires, keyed, and break-ins; not to mention dozens of dents.

I am a safe driver. My only accident that was my fault was 12 years ago. And it was just a fender-bender. But, driving isn't always about what you can control. For instance, it snowed 2 feet this week. On top of that, a little melts each day and covers the road. It then freezes again at night. There is also the danger of wildlife crossing. Just yesterday, I had to stop for a cow to cross the road, but elk, bear, horses, and turkey are the usual offenders.

All this to say, God protects us even when we don't directly pray for it.

I drove to work and back just fine Friday. About 5 minutes after I got home, Joe went out to the garage. My back tire was completely, rim-touching-the-ground flat. 5 minutes! What if that had happened on the way to work that morning, when it was still dark, 20 degrees, and I was going 60 mph down the hill with no pullouts? What if it had happened while I was at work and I got out to the parking lot and saw the flat, and would have had to change it myself? I consider myself an independent woman, but even I draw the line somewhere. And then, what if it had happened while I was driving up the hill, going 60 mph, with no pullouts? And what if it had been any night Sunday through Thursday, where I would have to get it fixed that night so that I could go to work the next morning?

But no. God protects us, even when we don't realize it.

Here's the second part of the blessing: We got a stellar deal on the new tires and brakes.

See, the back tires came with the van 3 years ago when we bought it used. We knew they needed to be replaced then, but it was expensive enough to buy the van. We simply said, "later". I wasn't too surprised that we needed to replace the back tires.

Joe told me that my brakes were pulling and needed to be rotated. Whatever that means! Brakes don't pull, they stop. When the tire guys (I think that's their official name) pulled off the front tires to put them on the back, they noticed that my brakes were metal touching metal. They called us and said it would cost $400 for the brake job, on top of the new tire cost. $400! Who has that kind of money in December?! Joe told them he would call them back and tell them to proceed or not. We discussed it for maybe a minute. I mean, brakes are kinda important, y'all. When Joe called back, the man immediately offered to knock off $200. Hello? We didn't even ask for a discount and you are going to knock off your entire profit margin?! Ok, I won't fight you.

But here's the deal. I took on some extra jobs this year to cover... well, to cover our mortgage. I am on the District Curriculum Team, the Student Council Advisor, and a Tutor. The school district does not pay out these amounts monthly, yet twice a year. Guess when the first paycheck will be. Yep, you guessed it. This week. God is so good.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Festival of Lights

Across the highway, a cute little camp is perched in the pines. Camp Tatiyee is a camp in the summer for kids/adults with mental and physical disabilities. In the winter, they hold a Festival of Lights fundraiser.

When you arrive, you get to walk around the cabins. Each cabin is decorated by a local business and you get to vote on the best decorated (we voted for the Country Store). Then, you can go into the dining room and warm up with a hot cocoa (it was 35 degrees outside). They have little trinkets for the kids to buy. The boys bought little baggies of cars and road barriers. All money goes directly to the Lions Club that pays for all the campers in the summer.

The best part is saved for last. You can go into the gym and jump in a bounce house. We were the only ones there and obviously the first ones of the night. Jack and Josh were having so much fun, one of the "elves" wanted to jump with them. This elf was 80 years old! I don't know who had more fun, the boys or her.

We didn't even realize it, but we had been there for over an hour. The Festival of Lights will definitely become an annual treat.

P.S. these are stock photos as it was too dark to get good shots. But it does look like this

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Storm

Just a quick post to share pics with you of our latest snow storm. Of course it started while Joe was in the hospital. Come to think of it, last years biggest storm happened while Joe was in the hospital. hmmmm.

We got 2 feet and lots of wind. Here are some cute pics.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No Batteries Required

What was your favorite toy growing up? Did it require batteries? I'm guessing not.

My favorite "toy" growing up was reading a book. I always had a book in my hand. Whether we were at church, at the beach, or standing in line at the grocery store, I always was reading.

Or coloring. I still get giddy over a fresh box of crayons. The smell. The sharp tips of new crayons. And if you were rich, you had the box of 64 crayons with a sharpener on the back. A sharpener! I didn't have the sharpener, but I guess my crayons just sharpened themselves with use. To be honest, my absolute favorite crayon was a short, stubby brown crayon with no wrapper. I loved that crayon. I wonder if I psychoanalyzed that what it would mean....

I have a firm belief that the best toys are "no battery required". Long gone are the days when I played with toys. I do still read, but it's usually on the computer now (which is always with me). And I do still color (i.e., paint the house), but my favorite color now is a sandy green. It's my boys who do most of the "toy" playing now.

I have discovered the secret to a peaceful meal out or doctor visit. Coloring. I have this nifty clipboard stashed in my mom-van for just such occasions. It is well stocked with Color Wonder paper and markers. If you don't know Color Wonder, you must not have kids. Because every mom should have some. The markers work perfectly on the Color Wonder paper. But, they don't write at all on skin (this is a biggy in our family), clothing, carseats, or carpet. It's magic! I can let them create without having to stand over them and be the marker nazi. It might be a little spendy up-front, but we are still using the same notebook for over a year now. I guess we just don't go out all that often. Best part.... no batteries.

Last year for Christmas, the boys got a Magna Doodle. For those of us over 20, it's the updated version of the Etch a Sketch. You remember the Etch a Sketch. I could barely make a square and then someone would walk over and shake it and it's gone. Darn knobs. I never knew if I wanted to twist right or left, how to make it go up and down. But the Magna Doodle is way superior. And the little magnetic pencil is attached via string (in other words, my boys can't lose it). My boys usually ask me to draw this or that. I feel bad because my drawing skills are not up to speed. I spent my whole life coloring in the lines, not making the lines. Lately, Jack has been doing the drawing himself. The other day, he came running to me, "Mom, look! I made a Mr. Potato Head." I think it looks just like the real thing.

Last month my mom came to visit and brought some blocks for the boys. No fancy paint designs, so you can't tell the decade in which they were made. No flashing lasers. No screeming sirens. Just blocks. To be honest, they are probably older than me, and that gets older every year. You know what? They have become the favorite toy in the house. The boys will play with their blocks from sunrise to sunset. They make buildings, bridges, cities; and then send them crashing to the floor. Their other favorite toy is trains. I suggested they make a Wal-Mart (their favorite place to shop) next to the train tracks. "Mom. Trains don't go to Wal-Mart. People do." I'm glad he pointed that out to me. "I know! I'll make a Train-Mart!" And he did. He even made a parking lot for the trains. I wonder if trains come out of Train-Mart and forget where they parked their cargo.....

I should have taken a picture of it, but I was too wrapped up in the magic of it all. I did, however, take a picture of his car wash.

Notice the front door and roof. They are very particular that all their buildings have a door and roof. All from just blocks.

As Jack's birthday (December 24th), Christmas (December 25th), and Joshua's birthday (February 23rd) approach, I think of what they will be getting. I hope they will be "no batteries required".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas-16 Years in the Making

It's tradition. Growing up, we would decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. My mom would bring all the boxes out of the garage. We would turn on Canadian Brass Christmas music. And we would decorate the tree and house all day. Then, we could enjoy the season for a month or more. It's tradition.

Well, tradition sort of goes out the window when you turn 18 and move to college. It's hard enough to fit two girls and their wardrobes into a college dorm room, let alone a Christmas tree. But that's ok. I would go home for Christmas. When I finally moved up in the world (i.e., rented a room instead of living on campus), again, my bed barely fit in that room. No Christmas tree that year. Oh well, I would go home for Christmas. When I moved to Yosemite, I lived in a dorm room again, with a roommate again. Although we couldn't fit a Christmas tree in our dorm room, we only had to look outside our window to see thousands of trees. It was alright, because I might be able to go home for Christmas. When Joe and I got married, we lived in a cabin-ette (named so because it was all of 125 square feet) to save money to buy a house. Let's just say that although I was very creative on my use of space, I couldn't get a tree in there. But again, we were surrounded by thousands of trees. And, we would go home for Christmas.

The first year we were in our own house, we started our own traditions. We had a huge Thanksgiving meal with 8 visitors. We hiked after the feast (to make room for pie), which is a tradition we have kept to this day. The day after, I just assumed that I would decorate for Christmas. Turns out that Joe had never grown up with Christmas. Never. Never had a Christmas tree. Never had a nativity scene. Money was very tight that first year in our own house, so we didn't have money for a tree anyway. Oh well, I would go home for Christmas and see mom's tree. The next year, I bought three little decorative trees and used those for our Christmas tree. The following year, I was 9 months pregnant (Jack was born on Christmas Eve) and even I didn't feel like decorating that year. The following year found us in our second home, with a one-year old, and me 7 months pregnant (again). To say that I was exhausted would be an understatement. And even if I had wanted to decorate, our kitchen was demolished, awaiting remodeling. It was alright, because we were going home for Christmas.

The following year, we had a one-year old and a two-year old. Boys. Do I dare decorate? Would everything we broken in a week? I used the little decorative trees and kept all ornaments to cloth. Repeat the following year. Now the boys are 3 and 4. They are a little calmer now. Little bit. Do I dare dream to decorate?

I looked at tree prices. Have you bought a tree lately? Christmas tree sales alone could be enough to stimulate our economy. $70 for real?! $150 for fake?! I won't be spending that much on presents, let alone a tree! Many of our friends and neighbors had been telling us how they got their own trees. I thought that was something people did in movies. You know, like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. The more we talked to our friends, the more it sounded do-able.

The permit was only $15 and basically the whole mountain is in-bounds. We drove up Porter Mountain road to the same spot where we collected our firewood. We got out of the van a couple of times, thinking we had seen the perfect tree. We fanned out and searched each time. Once, we did have a Chevy Chase, Christmas Vacation moment. We found the perfect tree. The light shone down upon it. The angels were singing. But....it was behind a barbed wire fence. Back in the van. Keep looking. Jump out of van. Fan out. Search. On our last search, we came to a berm. I noticed that the small (10 footers) grow near the edges of the forest, near the clearings. So, I walked to the berm. On the other side, was a frozen pond. We had so much fun throwing rocks and logs onto the pond. Turns out there was a perfect tree there.

We walked back to the van to get the chainsaw. The boys rode their bikes around the forest. We thanked God for the tree and then........TIMBER! We made it home just fine, as were only 15 minutes away, in the forest. In the forest, it looked small. When we got it into the living room, however, it was scraping the ceiling (and we have tall ceilings). Out to the backyard to chop off 2 feet. She now stands tall and pretty in our living room. The product of a new tradition. I am home for Christmas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Our Podcast

Many of you have been asking what it is that I spoke about at church. This is a perfect opportunity for me to share our podcast site with you.

For those of you who don't know, our church took a new direction a little over a year ago. Many churches meet Sunday morning, people sit in rows, and sing hymns. God spoke to our pastor about a new venue to attract the crowd that doesn't feel comfortable with the typical Sunday service. We meet on Saturday nights. We sit at round tables and drink coffee and eat sweets. We worship to Christian rock music. God has continued to draw people in and we run out of seats continually.

We have tried to communicate with others through alternative means. We are on Facebook. We have a podcast. Hence this post.

Pastor Ernie just finished up a series on be(ing) His. In the final "episode", he asked a few of us to share how God has changed our lives. I was shocked to hear him ask me to share.

I won't spoil the surprise. I'll let you hear it for yourself. Click on our podbean to hear the week I spoke.

If you look on the right side, you will see recent weeks and sermons. Enjoy. Pass this on to others you think may like to hear it. If you are local, come and join us on Saturday Nights at Seven.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"Let's go to Globe."
"Globe?! What's in Globe?"
Turns out, there are memories in Globe. And we went to get some.

I had mentioned previously that we often like to just jump in the car and drive. This time, we knew we were heading to Globe, but we didn't really know what we were going to see, do, or find there. I love those days.

When we pulled into town, we saw a green sign. I have come to love green signs (brown signs too). Green and brown signs are usually Park Service or State signs. The sign said, "Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Site". Coolness! This is where the teacher comes out in me. Archaeology. History. Memories!

It's amazing to me how you can drive through a town a dozen times and never notice certain things. Take the Indian Ruins at Besh Ba Gowah. I had never noticed the sign before. So glad we did this time.

You can click on the link for Besh Ba Gowah for more info, but basically, it is the ruins of a Native American pueblo from 700 years ago! It has a museum with artifacts found at the site. The museum has a 15 minute video teaching you about the tribe (the Salado) and their ways. Then, you can go on a walk through the pueblo.

You can see the remains of a 160-room pueblo. Some rooms have been recreated for you to see how the Salado lived 700 years ago. Some rooms have been left as they were found, just half-walls. Joshua, my adventurer, thought it would be fun to climb onto the walls and jump off. Did I mention these walls were 700 years old? This is the boy who thinks the fastest way from the living room to the den is to climb over the sofa and jump off the back. He also climbs into his car seat by going to the third row and attacking his seat from behind. Joshua. Sweetheart, those walls are 700 years old. You can't climb or jump on them. Memories.

As we were leaving the ruins, we found a gate to a secret garden. In the garden, the museum workers are recreating the crops and gardens of the Salado, from 700 years ago. We found corn, beans, and squash. We were the only ones in the garden. Then, in the corner, is another gate to a more secret, secluded garden. Larger. More lush. Beautiful.

We walked down the secret path and were amazed by the variety of plants and trees. Joe and I played Hide and Seek from the boys among the plants. Memories.

On the way back up the hill, we heard the distant rumble of a train. We sat in the shade of a pine tree and watched the little blue engine chug it's way up the hill. It's a good thing that my boys are young enough to be delighted at just the sight of a train, instead of the $68 it would have cost us to ride the train up the hill. Besides, it felt so good to just hold them and snuggle in that secret garden and talk about the "Little Engine That Could". Memories.

We drove around Globe some more in search of Spike, the steam engine. Found him. Once again, I was amazed that we had driven past that spot a dozen times and had never seen the train. Unfortunately, the boys couldn't play on him. Oh well.

For lunch, we went to Jack in the Box. It was far cry from the Mexican Restaurant we had our hearts and taste buds set on. But, they were closed. Jack in the Box it was. Once again, I thought, "what's so great about Jack in the Box?" Turns out, they have memories there too.

Jack discovered his shadow on the table. He kept trying to shake it off. He was telling his shadow to just leave him alone. Funny. Joe started to make animal-shadows. Joshua provided the sound effects. These pics are his horse face and his pig face. Memories.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wood Update

I know that you are dying to see our wood pile. I know. I can sense it. Everyone is as excited as I am about our wood. (click here to read about our wood collecting) Let me just say that I am so proud of my husband who has collected every single piece of it. This from a man who was so sick last year that we only got 1/2 cord.

This is the pile that he has split already. You can't tell from the pic, but it is 4 rows deep. He still has more to split.

And yes, he cuts down the tree, cuts it into rounds, splits it, and stacks it. And he will stack it again and again about 6 times over the winter, every time adjusting it just so. Sorted by type. Sorted by size. Sorted by .... actually I don't even know of other ways to sort it, but he is very particular about his wood.

Here is a picture of the pile Joshie stacked. Just like Dad.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Change of Plans

We had a perfect family day planned. Then, plans changed. That's alright; perfection is boring.

We had planned to go cut more wood (read the post about our wood cutting adventures). But, it stormed Saturday night and we knew the dirt roads to the wood would be pretty muddy. So, we planned on a drive up 260, with a letterbox hunt, and a hike at Becker Lake. Let's just say, our plans changed.

We did drive up 260, named one of the most scenic drives in Arizona and my absolute fave this time of year. We stopped at our letterbox location at Sunrise Lake, but there were too many people around, and one of the ethics is that you don't let people see you hunt. They may go over to the box after you leave and harm it, not knowing what it is. So, we planned to come back on our way back home.

Our next stop was Becker Lake and Wildlife Viewing Area. We had read brochures about Becker Lake ever since we moved to Arizona three years ago. We had been saving it for a special date. Saving it for when the boys were older to appreciate it. Let me just say, don't believe everything you read. It was pretty. But, it wasn't this huge wildlife viewing area. It was basically a footpath along a creekbank. The entire trail is only 1/2 mile. This for hikers from Yosemite, who are used to viewing bear, elk, and turkey and hiking (really hiking) a minimum of 4 miles.

So, there we were, done with our perfect plans by 10 am. Oh well. Plans change, right? Perfection is boring. We decided to get lost. We love getting lost. Before we had Jack and Josh, we used to get in the car and just drive. Our only requirement was that we had to use roads we had never taken before. You wouldn't believe some of the vistas, meadows, and wildlife we saw on the backroads.

We drove up highway 261 to Big Lake. Well, we were planning for Big Lake. We stopped at Crescent Lake. The boys had a blast on the dock. Then, we noticed that the dirt road (Hwy 273) from Sunrise Lake to Big Lake had finally been paved and reopened. We had tried to take this road when we first moved here, but it was closed for construction. So, we took the road instead of going to Big Lake. Plans change.

On our leisurely drive, we saw many trailheads. We had no intention of taking any of them today, but we wanted to see the maps of the trails and see their distances. Just in case we wanted to plan a hiking trip (but we all know what happens to plans). As we pulled in to one trailhead, Joe recognized an older gentleman getting ready to head out on the trail to Mount Baldy.

It turns out that this gentleman, Hugh, is retired from the Forest Service and now spends his days mapping trees. Pretty cool. His stories of the area lured us out of our van and on to the trail. We're so glad we did. Hugh taught us about the local trees and wildlife as we walked. Then, he took us off trail and showed us a small strand of trees recently overturned in the wind. If you look closely, you can see that they are 4 trees who overturned all at the same time.

At the end of the hike, the boys were exhausted and the clouds were moving in. We said our good-byes to Hugh and started to head home. We continued on highway 273, right past Sunrise Lake and our letterbox hunt. Oh well, I'll plan that for another day (but we all know what happens to plans).

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Papa

Allow me to introduce my Papa to you. Papa is a superhero.

25 years ago, my mother married my stepdad, after being a widow for 8 years. During those 8 years, life was always just my mom and me. It was always calm and quiet. Yet, I longed for a family. I longed for a daddy. I longed for a grandma and grandpa. When she got married, I got all of that. Plus more.

My first Christmas with the new family was huge in every way. I still remember so much about it. Previously, Christmas' were just mom and me in our little 15 by 15 living room, in our little apartment. But that Christmas..... was huge. And although it was all that I had ever wanted, I was overwhelmed.

There were 15 people there. 15! I don't even think our old apartment could have fit 15 people in the whole place, let alone the living room. The house was huge. There were 4 other kids running around. It was too much too fast. But Papa must have known that. He picked me up, put me on his lap, and hugged me the whole day. Papa is a superhero.

Since then, I have left Papa's lap. But, his lap is always full of children. At Christmas, you can count on finding Papa in the living room, on the couch, with at least one child on his lap. In the last 25 years, our family has grown and we now have 9 little-ones (Great-grandchildren). Papa is a superhero.

A few months before I got married, Papa was diagnosed with cancer. Skin cancer on his head. Did that stop him from attending my cousin's wedding outside, or my wedding outside? Nope. He just put on a sweet hat and looked very dapper. Superheroes wear hats.

Since that summer, seven years ago, Papa has been diagnosed with cancer time and time again. Every time in a different place. Each time a different type of cancer. This week, he has just been diagnosed with cancer for the seventh time. His attitude is one of hope, and faith, and gratefulness for each day he has had so far. Even heroes get cancer. It's their attitude that makes them super.

This Christmas, I'm gonna make sure I get my turn to sit on Papa's lap. Because Papa is a superhero.

where Glory meets my suffering