Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Tribute to Harvey-One of the World's Best Neighbors

One of the world's best neighbors is moving today. I say "one" of the best not as anything negative toward Harvey. He was up against stiff competition. Shortly after Joe got out of the hospital, Randy (one of the world's best neighbors) came over and gave us a truckload of wood, knowing that Joe wouldn't be able to gather our own wood for the winter. Good neighbor. Deborah is also one of the world's best neighbors. She has baked with me, laughed with me, read Bible verses with me, prayed with me, cried with me. I could go on, but this is a tribute to Harvey, One of the World's Best Neighbors.

One of my first memories of Harvey was the kitchen remodel. I was very pregnant and couldn't be much help to Joe. Harvey would just show up at the right times to help Joe carry out the heavy, old cabinets or hold up the new cabinets, so Joe could mount them. He always had a smile and laughed.

Harvey would frequently give toys to the boys. Harvey is "The Yard Sale King" (this pic is Chase in the Bike Parade at our Block Party. His bike was "Yard Sale King". He won first place). He would buy abondoned storage units and sell the stuff inside at yard sales. He usually made a profit of $1500 per yard sale. Crazy. And he did them about once a month. But, he was generous and would frequently give my boys the pick of the litter. In fact, there is a beautiful TV cabinet sitting in our garage (that I am anxious to get into the living room) that Harvey just gave us. Good neighbor.

Harvey has a grandson, Chase, who is 5 years old. Just old enough to be one stage ahead of Jack. That meant we got his hand me downs. His clothes were always clean and well maintained. We're gonna miss those hand-me-downs.

When Chase got a big boy bike, Harvey gave us his motorized 4 wheeler. It was a little banged up, but honestly, it would have looked like this after a month with Jack and Josh anyway. Good neighbor.

Last Christmas, it snowed pretty heavily while we were in El Paso. We weren't sure if the roads were open and plowed. We called Harvey for a road report. He said they were clear. You know what? They were clear because he had taken his snow blower and did our whole driveway and ***they just drove by, for the last time (sniffle)**** walkway. We just drove right into the garage. When Joe got out of the hospital, Harvey just walked over (without our even asking) and blew our driveway and walkway. Great neighbor.

Many of the neighbors went over last night to say "see ya later". We just couldn't bear to say "good-bye". It was the most somber time I have ever had in his driveway. Blessings to you, Harvey and Joni. You will be missed. The World's Best Neighbors.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fall Festival Parade

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Every year, our town has a Fall Festival. It includes vendors, booths, music, food, and a parade. The boys love the parade. Check out our photobook of the pics of the parade. This year, we went to Woodland Lake Park directly after the parade. The boys played and we had a picnic. We are so blessed to live in such a wonderful town.

Indian Day

And no, I'm not being racist. That's what they call it, "Indian Day".

Every year, our students celebrate Indian Day with a huge dance. The kids dress up and they dance their traditional dances. It's very pretty. The best part is the Frybread and Indian Tacos. Yum.

I will try my best to describe the dances from my "white" eyes. Oh, and the pics are from the net. I have tried every year to get good pics of the dances, and it's just too hard while watching my 27 students, and Jack, and Josh, and the lighting is really bad. So, please forgive the stock photos. I wanted you to see what it looks like.

The Kindergartners do the Cradleboard Dance. The Cradleboard is the Native American version of a sling for a baby. The baby is tied up in the cradleboard and the woman wears it on her back. She can also hang it up, say on a tree, if she is working outside. The dance is so cute. It's a partner dance, one boy and one girl. The girl is wearing the cradleboard and the boy is holding a blanket. They come in and the boy lays out the blanket. The boy helps the girl take the cradleboard off. He then holds it up and dances around in a circle. He then gives the cradleboard (and doll) back to the girl sitting on the blanket. She takes the baby out and rocks it back and forth. At the end, she puts it back in the cradleboard and ties it back up. The boy helps her put it back on her back. This dance is a favorite because the Kinders are so small and cute.

First Grade does the Painting Ceremony. When a girl becomes a woman (I hope you know where I'm going with this), she has a Sunrise Dance. Sunrise Dances are huge. They are bigger than Anglo Sweet Sixteen parties. They are bigger than Hispanic Quinceneras. They are even bigger than weddings. They last a number of days and take about 2 weeks to prepare. The entire tribe is invited. It's huge. I can't possibly describe it all here, but I will try my best at the Painting Ceremony. For the dance, four long branches are brought it and made into a teepee shape. The girl is brought in and she sits under this "teepee". The "elders" (also first graders) dance around her. She gets a massage. Then they get the "paint". In the sunrise dance, the paint is pollen. The boy takes some sage bound together and "paints" her forhead.

Second Grade does the Apache War Dance. For the dance, they wear long, black wigs. They have their spear and shield. They have war paint on their faces. They are shirtless and wear a "loincloth" and mocassins. When they dance, they whoop and hollar. When they come in, they separate into two lines facing each other. They sort of square off, and challenge each other and come into the middle ground and "fight".

Third and Fourth Grade does the Flag Dance. About 7 flags are brought in, carried by 6 students each. American, Arizona, Tribe, District, School, and a couple of others. The American flag goes to the middle and is held up high. Then 3 students (2 of which are mine) say the Pledge of Allegiance in Apache.

Fifth Grade does the Hoop Dance. I have never seen this dance. It is always about this time that my students need to use the restroom, that my Flag Dancers are returning to me and are super excited, or Jack and Josh have dirty diapers. It never fails.

Sixth Grade does the Two-Step. I know, you are thinking, that's a cowboy dance. Here's the funny thing; the Indians ARE cowboys. Wrap your mind around that one. Think about it, they rode horses a long time before white men even came here. When it's traditional dress day, the kids all wear cowboy outfits. The girls may wear camp dresses and the boys may wear ribbon shirts, but it's all jeans, and boots, and cowboy hats. Many of my students own horses. The boys bull-ride. The rodeo is big! But the funny thing about the Sixth Grade doing the Two Step is that they are nervous about touching each other to dance. Good! Let's keep it that way for a few more years!

Special Dance: Navajo Eagle Dance
For the second year now, we have been honored with the Navajo Eagle Dance. I am especially proud, as the "eagle" has been my student for 2 years. Seneca is a Navajo Dancer. He travels the circuit with his sister, doing this dance. It makes you cry, it is so beautiful. Navajo's are very different from Apaches. Just because they are both Native American, does NOT mean they are the same. To be honest, Apaches are warriors (they are proud of that) and the Navajos are so much more reserved (no pun intended). Seneca has had a hard time on this reservation, as he has been made fun of for being different. Performing this dance last year gave him some clout and I'm so proud of him.

The last dance is always the Crown Dancers. The crown dancers are pretty scary to me. I'm not allowed to know the story about them. I'm ok with that. They wear black hoods over their faces, so you don't know who they are. In fact, I just found out that one of my precious boys that I taught for 2 years is a Crown Dancer. They dance around with wooden crosses. They have jingles on their belt. It's very sacred. Girls are not even allowed to draw them. But, they are hugely revered. At this point in the ceremony, all the kids in the school are invited to stand in a huge circle around the crown dancers. Jack loves this part. He practiced dancing that morning, while we were getting ready at home. He even remembered how they sound.

I am working on getting pics of my students on here. They were so pretty on Indian Day.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Did You Find the Treasure?

"Mom, did you find the treasure?" asked Jack about a hundred times on our letterboxing hunt. This was our first hunt and I wasn't sure he would understand the concept of hidden treasure. Oh, he understood.

It must be a common theme on cartoons, because he asked me fifty times where the "x" is (you know, x marks the spot). I had the "map" in hand and compass/watch on my wrist. We had the journal and stamp in the backpack. For those who don't know, letterboxing is sort of like a treasure hunt. Instead of finding gold, you find a box, with a personalized stamp and a journal. You stamp their stamp in your journal, and then you stamp your stamp in their journal. You can also write a little note. It's fun to read the other notes. And then your journal will have a record (and tons of memories) of your letterboxing hunts. Go to for more info and locations.

We set out on our first hunt to Pintail Lake. We had been to this lake once before, but it was 2 years ago, when the boys were 1 1/2 and 4 months old. Gee, I just don't know why they don't remember it. I let them discover the whole lake/trail first, since they didn't remember it. When we were in the observation hut, we saw a duck swimming lazily by. The boys enjoyed watching him dive under water.

Then we started our real hunt. We counted steps. We used the compass. We measured. We hunted. We crouched real low, under the branches of an old grandpa juniper. All to no avail. It did appear that a tree had toppled recently, and the box was supposed to be in the tree. So, I think, it had been crushed. But honestly, my treasure was spending time with my boys. Enjoying God's nature. Enjoying seeing them explore and learn. Enjoying talking with them and seeing the world through their eyes. Sniffle, sniffle. "But mom, did you find the treasure?"

Undaunted, we set off an another letterbox hunt. I was warned that letterboxes may not be in their locations due to acts of nature or theft. Either way, I was prepared with a list and "map" of 6 letterbox hunts in our little town. So, off we went.

The second letterbox hunt was to Old Jacque Ranch. Very fitting. Locals, I'm not going to give anything away. You have to find it on your own. We found the first two chimneys with no problem. But, the box is hidden near the third chimney. All three (myself, Jack, and Josh) of us were looking for this third chimney. "Mom, did you find the treasure?" Jack yelled from the ruins of the old log cabin.

And then, there it was. If you get close to the irrigation ditch you can barely see the third chimney far off. I crossed the ditch just fine. I held Jack's hand and he jumped across just fine. Josh, well, Josh is Josh. There is a reason Josh was wearing big hiking boots. Josh is my nature boy. He doesn't know how to stay on a trail. He doesn't quite care to. He always walks into things because he is never looking where he is going. He is so interested in the bugs and the feathers and the flowers. Sweet boy. Needless to say, I'm glad he had those big hiking boots on.

We trekked over to the chimney and used our compass. 70 paces. 50 degrees. Face north. On the Southwest side of ......... It's all very technical. All very cool for adventurers at heart. And then, we found it! Just where the directions said it would be! There was tension in the air as we opened the box and found the stamp and journal.

We stamped in their journal and stamped in ours. We read the journal. So cool. Then, we hid it back where it was. On the way back to the van, the boys asked if we could have our picnic there. I got out the blanket and food and we feasted under the shade of an old juniper. As we lay there, Jack labeled the clouds. Josh played in the mud. Mostly, we just talked. My boys are growing up and they have thoughts of their own. Sigh.

"Mom, did you find the treasure?" Yeah, baby, I found my treasure. Sniffle, sniffle.

Click on the play button below to watch our letterbox adventure.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Even Little Engines Can Do Big Things

"See Mom, even little engines can do big things", Jack said as he watched Thomas.

What is it with little boys and any mode of transportation? Cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, helicopters, and (of course) trains. My boys just love Thomas right now. I know this phase will probably pass before you could name all the engines (go ahead and try, I'll wait). But, what do you do when the boys ask you for yet another piece to their ever-growing track-world? Do you run out to the store to buy it? Do you regret spending the $19.97 at Wal-Mart when they stop playing with it 2 days later? Do you have them use their own piggy bank money to teach saving and spending? Or.................

Do you have them make it themselves? I do admit; I have bought more tracks and engines then I would like to admit. And Jack did use his piggy bank money to buy the bridge set. But they had just finished watching Thomas and wanted a station. I am home sick with Bronchitis right now, so I wasn't up to running out to the store (no matter who paid).

Remembering that back in the day, we used to make our own toys, I suggested we paint our own station. We found an old box (probably got a freebie in it). We dug out my old paints (like 6 years old). And we fished out our painting shirts (notice those were freebies too). They got started right away. They decided on red for the roof, blue for the walls, and yellow for the windows.

One neat thing about the (box) station is that the "door" opens and closes. oooooh aaaaaah. What is the best part of our station creation? That it was free? That the boys were creative? That we worked on colors and shapes while they painted? The best part.... well, you'll just have to ask them. They're in the playroom right now, still playing with it.

Even little engines can do big things.

where Glory meets my suffering