Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fa La La La Leads to Lunch

For Miss A, the only part of "Snowmageden" that she didn't like was the fact that missing school on Friday meant a postponement of the Music Program at the Elementary School.  Thankfully, the school had planned ahead and scheduled the program for Tuesday.  While that appeased Miss A's need to know; it also meant that Dad would not be able to attend as he'd be traveling.  I think Mr P took the news the hardest; he's not missed a music program in eight years! (Wow, we've been at the elementary school too long)  Thankfully Mom to rescue, I told them I had purchased the DVD of the program and when it arrived we'd have a Premier Party with popcorn and the all the fixings!

For a girl who doesn't really like performing in front of a crowd, singing, or dancing; she sure loves the Music Program.  This year, she was chosen to have a special part in the 2nd Grade portion of the show; she was a boomwacker.  Just in case you don't know what that means (like her mother), it means you hold a big stick and stomp it on the ground.  It makes a loud booming sound.  According to Miss A, it was an amazing experience.  Sadly from my view from the audience, I could see her but not get a good camera angel.  Let's just say, this girl can really rock the musical instruments.

I loved watching Miss A and her friends sing and dance.  I must admit that that our Music Teacher should win a prize for getting 600 students excited about music and ready to perform.  The show is really amazing.

Keeping up with tradition, I signed Miss A out after the morning performance so we could meet some of her friends and moms for lunch at Fuddruckers.  This could be one of Miss A's favorite parts of the day.  I love it too, but mostly because its so fun to see Miss A and her crew of giggling little girlfriends.  It's loud and crazy, but boy its a sight that makes your mother heart sing.

Maybe postponements make you appreciate the small little things even more!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Snowmageden or Welcome Home

All week while we were enjoying the sun and warmth of Southern California, the boys were back at home holding down the fort and going to school and work.  Somebody had to do it!  They would call and text us with news of an impending snowstorm that forecasters were saying could bring 7 to 14 inches to our town.  Way to narrow it down meteorologists.

We arrived late Tuesday and I knew that Wednesday would mean a fast trip to the Grocery Store, laundry and prep work on the house to get it ready for "Snow Day" children.  I might not have mentioned that while the girls and I were gone, the boys were homeless as we were having hardwood floors put in on the main floor.  They didn't have it too bad, however, as they stayed at my folks.  Indoor putting is right up C's alley.

However, the dust that the floor process left behind was something else.  The boys had moved all the furniture back into place, but there was plenty for me to do to get the house back in order; all the kitchen chairs were in the basement and needed felt pads, the shelves in the Family Room were a mess of dust, and of course the kitchen counters and cabinets had a layer a few inches thick.  Nothing a little elbow grease couldn't handle, but of course the cleaning had to wait until I could restock our fridge and cupboards. Something about being "gone" for more than a week didn't leave much to eat!

So, after a marathon shopping trip and an equally exhausting afternoon of cleaning, sweeping and dusting I was prepped for Snowmagden.  Mr C's school which never cancels due to snow (the joy of a boarding school) was even preparing for the worst and cancelled school for Thursday and parent teacher conferences that evening.  Because this would leave the boys a four day weekend, we invited a Korean Student to join us for the Snow Storm.  Nothing like being in a real home with a roaring fire and a family during a snowstorm.  June Woo was thrilled to get out of school for a few days and enjoy home cooking.  After a week away from my family, I was even excited to cook!

Wednesday night the snow was still nowhere in sight, but the schools cancelled.  The rumor was that the snow would start Thursday at about noon and would fall 2 inches an hour.  By one o'clock on Thursday, the weather people had redeemed themselves and the flakes began to fall. However on our second day of "Snowstorm Nemo," we only had about 8 inches of snow.  Not quite what we were anticipating, but at least that meant we wouldn't be stuck in the house for days!

By Friday afternoon we were off to "burn off some steam" at the gym.  Playing racquetball, ping pong and shooting hoops together is a great way to spend a snow day!

Now, I'll just admit that Snowmageden was not the welcome home I was hoping for!  Come On Spring!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving Goodbye to the Sunshine

After spending nearly a week in the Desert, it was time to return to our "real lives."  However, before we left we listed off our Top Ten Things we'd miss.

1.  Sunshine
2. Grandparents
3. Warm Temperature
4. Flip Flops and No Coats
5. The Pool
6. Palm Trees
7. Flowers and Green Grass
8. Patio Time with cool drinks, puzzles and long chats with the Grands.
9. No Schedule and Relaxation ( this might have been the Mother's number one!)
10. Swimming

I think we could have stayed the rest of the winter.  In fact, both girls offered to be home schooled if I'd let them stay until Spring. The fact that the news reports showed that upon our return we'd be bracing for a Winter Storm with 7 to 10 inches of snow expected did not help our desire to return.  As we sat on the tarmac in Phoenix, I told the girls to soak up the sunshine and the look of green grass as it would probably be awhile before we saw them again.

At least, we had the excitement of seeing Mr P and Mr C upon our return to make the trip home worthwhile.  Otherwise, it might have been hard to convince ourselves to get on the plane!

Our trip to Palm Springs was amazing.  Thanks Nana and Papa for letting us invade your little portion of heaven for a week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Living Desert: Leopards, Geckos and Giraffes

We are Zoo People.  Almost as much as we are Children Museum people.  However, because we live not too far from a World Class Zoo, we are a little jaded on what zoos we are willing to visit.  The Living Desert is definitely worth the visit. Part of it's charm is that its a great glimpse into a climate and animal life that is so drastically different from what we are use to in the Midwest.  The Palm Trees alone are worth the visit.  Add in a live animal encounter show with flying birds, climbing animals, and Zoo Keepers with a sense of humor its something you don't want to miss.

What we really love about the Living Desert is that you can see the animals up close in their natural habitat.  As Miss A said, the Giraffes are "Really Really Tall!"  Look at how cool the telescope is for looking at the Giraffes and Friends.

Since we were skipping school a few days on our trip, we tried to "learn" as much as possible on our visit. We got a behind the scene tour of the Animal Hospital on site and the docent let us touch a Ram's Horn and a set of Antlers from a Buck.  Amazing to touch and feel the difference between the two! We also got to see the exam room for the "large hoofed animals" and the sling they sit in while being examined.  Miss M decided right then that she's sticking with human nursing, no Veterinarian setting for her!

Another favorite spot at the Living Desert is the Amazing Train Display.  When Mr C was little, he could have spent the entire day watching the trains go on "adventures" ranging from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mt Rushmore.  Let's just say that there are some very talented Train Volunteers that have created a display that really shines.

For a few minutes, we contemplating taking another hike in the California Mountain, but when we saw that the shortest trail was over 3 miles long and that there were warning signs about taking water, a cell phone and letting someone know your plans; we got nervous.  Miss A said she'd rather ride the Tram around the Zoo, it seemed safer!

Spending the morning walking among the animals and soaking in the Desert was a perfect close to our vacation in California.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Children's Museum: A Walk Down Memory Lane

We don't go to many Children's Museums anymore.  Sigh.  The joy of children growing up.  At one time, we  planned our vacations around where the best Children's Museums were located.  The Palm Dessert Museum has always been our our short list of favorite places.  Back in the day, we would take Mr C all on his own, as his sister M was too young to go along.

Now, it was Miss M showing Miss A the "ropes" so to say and helping her along the way.  It's amazing how much stays the same as both girls most favorite spot at the Museum was Painting the VW Bug.  The moment we walked in the museum, it's almost like the girls had their eyes set on nothing else but painting the car.  Of course, can you blame them; donning a paint apron, slippers and a big paintbrush.

The Ropes Course was another classic favorite, but Miss M admitted it's a little more challenging when you aren't that much taller than the ropes.  Guess she has a point.

Miss M did find a new hobby in creating a Short Action Film complete with moving figures, sound effects, and changing backgrounds. Maybe this will spark some interest in the fancy digital video camera we have collecting dust at home.  Miss A found a few hidden treasures digging in the archaeological exhibit.

Of course, our final two favorite spots were the Pizza Shop and the Grocery Store.  Miss A allowed me to be the cashier, but then asked to borrow money to pay for her groceries.  Guess some things never change.  I bet we spent a good half hour restocking the shelves, ringing up the groceries and talking about how the cat and dog food cost more money than the fresh vegetables and that the cookies and frozen pies were the most expensive of all.  Not sure these were current grocery store prices and they seemed to cater to the health crazy California shopper!

After working up a good hunger shopping, Miss A and Miss M treated me to some fresh pizza.  The Brick Oven really did a great job of making even the simplest of pizza topping taste extra good.  Either that or the Pizza Chefs just did a great job laying out the pies!

We had a great morning at the Palm Dessert Children's Museum and I loved the girls enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Climbing Mountains In California

When we arrived in Palm Springs, Miss A was quick to point out that the mountains looked like a perfect place to go on a hike.  That girl has talked about our trip to the Colorado Mountains nearly weekly and has already planned our trip there this summer.  In every conversation, she talks about climbing a mountain.  Whether it be Loveland Pass or the ski slopes at Keystone, she is determined that this summer we will conquer a mountain.

On Sunday afternoon after Church, the girls, Papa and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to climb a California Mountain.  We packed some water bottles, put on our tennis shoes and headed out to a perfect climbing spot in Palm Desert.  The trail was winding and steep, but the views were fantastic.  We didn't make it all the way to the top.  We got a little nervous about the grade, that we were going solo, and not sure about the climb back down.

Let's just say it was little more rocky and rugged than Colorado.  My dad's comment at the start of the trail was that many get stuck coming down, and had to be rescued.  Miss M might also have been a little nervous that we would run into California wildlife also known as snakes.  If you know me at all, that's really all it took to get me thinking that every dirt hill and crevice in the trail was a snake hole.  Thanks Miss M.

I didn't let fear ruin my fun though.  We climbed to our hearts content and then when we thought it was time to go back down, we did.  Of course before I sound too cocky, I do have to admit that the climb down is the tough part.  With only a few hundred feet to go, Miss A slipped and fell on the rocks and skinned her knees. It was one of those moments when you know a guardian angel is "catching your child" because her slide very easily could have been down and over the mountain.  Thank God is wasn't.

A little cleaning with a towel which I just happened to have pack in my bag and some fresh water and she was good to go.  We told her it was a California souvenir.  The tough cookie she is it didn't stop her desire to keep going and she might have even suggested another trip to climb later in the week.  While that plan didn't happen, we are already planning our summer climb in the Rockies.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day in the Desert

While I might not have been with all my sweethearts for Valentine's Day, I must say that laying out by the pool isn't a bad substitute!

We had a fabulous day in the desert and then that evening took a little trip to downtown Palm Springs to explore the Art Museum and Street Fair. Miss M and Miss A enjoyed the Art Museum.  They both fell in love with the Teddy Bear Chair and are scheming about how we might be able to use our overabundance of Build A Bear Animals to form our own chair.

Nana and Papa's friends; Fred and Ethel (might not be their real names) were a little "stiff," but we enjoyed seeing how they really soak in the atmosphere of the Museum, you might even say they "fit right in."

Our Valentine's Day dinner was al fresco at the California Pizza Kitchen allowing us the opportunity to chat, people watch, and soak in the warm weather.  After dinner, we strolled along the Street Fair; checking out the latest must have items and the eclectic foods and treats. Miss A even ran into a celebrity!  Her most memorable moment however was at the Marilyn Monroe Statue where she begged to have her picture taken from the backside!  Love that girl's sense of humor.

A perfect Valentine's Day in the Desert.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane....

The girls and I left very early (4:00 AM early) on Wednesday morning for a trip to the Desert of California.  As we drove to the airport, Miss A announced that she had never seen the streets so empty as we counted only a half dozen cars on the road.  Leaving our winter jackets behind and praying that our suitcases would come in under 50 pounds, we kissed Mr P goodbye and boarded our plane for a week of sunshine!  This is the life.

Let me just tell you that it's been awhile since I've traveled by air and it just ain't what it use to be.  Even Miss M who hasn't flown for a few years commented that she couldn't believe the only snacks available on board were a bag of $3 goldfish.  No free peanuts anymore!  Thankfully, we'd packed our own treats.  I guess all this allowed to realize how much more enjoyable travel is our little Honda Minivan.  According to Miss A, however, the fact that there is a restroom on board a plane does make it a little bit better.

By the time we arrived in Phoenix, we were thrilled to see the green grass, sunny faces and moving sidewalks. Our layover in the airport provided us an opportunity to stretch our legs and get a quick snack (still exurbanite prices, but more options) But I must say the moving sidewalks were a real treat. I think Miss A must have gone up and down the International Concourse a half dozen times. By the end, I had the overhead announcement (to watch my step, and grab the handrail) memorized.  Miss A and M did finally learn the inside lane was for those just riding along and the outside lane for the movers and shakers.  They took turns being each.

Arriving in Palm Springs was a treat.  Not only is it the coolest airport in the world; all outside concourses, a putting green in the lobby and a playground. It was also nearly 70 degrees at 9:30 in the morning, there were flowers in bloom and the grass was green and lush.  As Miss A announced upon disembarking "It's like a whole different world!"  However, I think my kids were even more excited to see Nana and Papa who they have missed seeing a few weeks.

I'll say there is nothing like flying across the country in the middle of winter and leaving behind all your cares and worries and having a summer vacation!  I'll admit my bags were packed with books to read, knitting projects to enjoy, and a flip flops and swimsuits to wear sitting by the pool.  I'll say it again; this is the life!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When God Laughs at our Plans

Sunday afternoon, I decided I needed to update my current calendar system.  For the past two years, I've been using the Mead Mom's Calendar and then also carry a spiral notebook with my today list.  Every few months, I'd need to buy a new spiral and I had no way of keeping things from week to week.

I saw on a blog that Staples carried a new line of planers that you could customize.  While their store is way to far away to go to, my nearby Office supply store should carry something like it I figured.  So Miss A and I, between basketball pictures and her basketball game, had twenty minutes open to shop for my new fangled Franklin Covey Planner.   I love that it has a monthly section and a week at a glance.  Mine also has a separate notebook area which is perfect for my big to do lists I like to create.  Plus, it's in a red zippered case that makes me look all official and grown up.

Back in my young adult days when I used to have a job and responsibilities, I carried a Franklin Planner with me everywhere.  In fact so did my employer the Governor of Nebraska.  Hers was blue, mine was grey!  I had a system going and now I can start all over again!  So Sunday night in between commercials (which by the way I thought were less than stellar then in years past, but the game in the 3rd quarter was rather interesting) I started planning out my 2013.  Yes, I do lead an exciting life.

Then in about the 4th quarter, I looked over at Miss A all cuddled up in a blanket, with rosy cheeks and thought "she's sick."  Oh no.  This was not in my planner.  Monday was full of things I needed to do, places I needed to go.  Isn't it funny when God laughs at the plans we make.  I quickly realized that while "my" plans were not going to happen, the entire reason I'm here right now, in this time, with these people, is so that I can be around for times like this when a sick child needs her momma.

Thankfully, Miss A's little virus lasted only two days and resulted in us not having the crazy Tuesday night we had on the schedule.  Because she was under the weather, we went from five events to three which is much more manageable.  Guess maybe God's timing wasn't so bad!  It never is.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I've Come to Take Your Blood...and Other Funny Things I've Heard at a Blood Drive

Saturday was the 2nd Annual " Be Colerageous Blood Drive" at our elementary school held in honor of our  sixth grade friend who has Leukemia.  This is an event I'm so happy to help the Red Cross and our friends organize. To say it was a huge success does not really do it justice.  We were hoping for about 50 people to show up to give blood between 8:00 to 2:00 p.m. on a cold February Saturday and 67 people walked through the doors!  At the end of the day, our little blood drive had collected 61 units of blood and saved on average 183 lives.

Did you know that one hour of time donating blood can save up to three lives.  Just imagine it; by giving just a little of yourself and your time you are helping people like our friend Cole and other children with cancer.  You might be saving adults with blood disorders, mothers fighting Breast Cancer, fathers in accidents or maybe tiny babies with heart conditions.

I love helping out with Blood Drives.  There is just something about the energy of the day and the excitement of seeing people give of themselves in some small way. For many, it is a very courageous step give blood. Maybe they don't like needles, or they are afraid of blood,for some the fear of the process stops them from even coming through the doors. Those who don't let the fear stop them experience something really amazing.

My husband and kids have gotten on board with helping at Blood Drives too.  All three kids were there most of the day helping in the canteen, making Valentine Cards for the kids at Children's Hospital ,and just soaking in a little of what it means to serve others.  P gave blood too and knowing it's not his favorite thing to do I really appreciated his efforts.  Plus his presence allowed me a hand to hold during my own donation.

I'll admit I'm not the best at giving blood. In fact since I first organized a blood drive in 2008, to honor a little girl who lost her battle with cancer and support her family (who have since become dear friends), I've only been able to give blood four out of six attempts.  At the first blood drive, they rejected me immediately due to low iron counts.  My second attempt they nearly gave up trying to find a vein resulting in bruises on both arms without even a drip of blood coming out; bad veins!

But this time, I was ready. I've been taking my vitamins for months, have been drinking lots of water and planned our meals last week to have red meat and lots of leafy greens.  Lesson learned.  Now the veins are another thing. I can't help how bad they are but I have learned to demand a "good stick" and for them to research my arms before attempting.  This time it was the left arm and it only took about five minutes and two Red Cross workers to locate the right vein!  I figure it will be awhile before I wear short sleeves as the bruise is a pretty blue and purple color.

All this to say that it was all worth it.  Knowing that my little discomfort will be coming a lifesaving gift for someone else, I can't imagine saying no.  In fact, I'm already planning on giving again in 8 weeks when the Red Cross comes to the Junior High for a Blood Drive.  How can I say no.

Finally to lighten this up a little I do have to share a few of the funny outtakes from the day:

* We had some great volunteers.  One of my friends did such a great job at the Registration Table, but when she first arrived she made me laugh.  The Donors were told by the Red Cross workers to raise up their arms in the air after they took the needle out. To stop the blood and get it to clot.

When my friend saw the arm in the air she said "I think that lady has a question!  I'm surprised the Nurse is not answering it, should we do something."  Oh, Mrs A you made my day with that comment.

* Another friend who was volunteering was also going to give blood and it would be her first time. She was very nervous. When her number was called up, we told the Red Cross worker that it would be Mrs. W's first time and to keep her laughing he told her "Don't worry, it's my first time too!"  I thought that Mrs. W was going to pass out.

*Mr C was working the Canteen for service hours for school and needed to have someone sign off that he had worked from 8:30 to 2:00 and according to him " It needs to be someone who is not my mother, I'm getting tired of doing all this volunteer hours and having my mom be in charge and sign off on the hours.  It doesn't look good."

Thankfully, Cole's mom was more than willing to sign off and make it all look legit!

In closing if you've read this post and thought "Wow, I could never give blood."  please reconsider.  As the Red Cross says  ....

The need is constant. The gratification is instant. Give Blood.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Crafting Gene at Work Again: Heart Door Hanger

Last year, a friend and I ventured into the Burlap Door Hanger craze.  We made Valentine Hearts, an Easter Cross and a Flip Flop for Summer.  Mine were cute, but not perfect.  I loved the idea that I could make a fun door hanger and save tons of money over the boutique's version.

This year, I saw on a blog a Chevron Heart made out of Foam Board and thought that this might be even easier than burlap to work with, so I talked my friend D into another round of Craft Day.  Now here is where I am honest and say that things don't always go as planned.  I might have gotten a little cocky and thought that I could just remember from memory what the directions were.  I had all the supplies, had made a copy of the template for the Chevron Pattern and had even bought the craft paper to use to trace a good heart.

 Amanda Jane Brown's Valentine Chevron Heart 

In other words I was thinking I had it covered!  The only problem, I guess I didn't know exactly what a Chevron Pattern should look like so I used both the small and big part of the template and didn't overlap them to continue the pattern all the way across the heart.  Needless to say, my heart looks a little more like "stripes" than it looks likes "chevrons."

At the end of our projects, D's definitely looks more like a Chevron Heart (even though she used both the small and big templates-at least she carried the pattern to the end) and mine not so much.

We joked that maybe we should Pin this project to the "Failed Project Page on Pinterest."  Of course, we also decided that five year old B's project; using the foam board-minus the heart cut out, might have been the best creation of the day.

While the project might have been an epic fail, it didn't stop us from having a fun afternoon laughing at ourselves and feeling proud of our creative attempts.  Mine is hanging from the front door even though it's not perfect.  Guess I figure no one but me knows that it was suppose to be a Chevron Heart, they think it's just a pink and white stripped heart.  Plus I saved about $35 over the one I saw last week at a cafe in town!

I'm trusting that you, my faithful readers won't let the neighborhood in on the secret that this heart is less than perfect.  I'm less than perfect too; so its only fitting!

Our next project plan is for an adorable Carrot for Spring!