Sunday, January 8, 2017

Forced Rain

It's the new year.  And it's three (plus) years since my last post.

I live in Arizona now.  We all six do.   The weather is dry and so is the terrain.  We are near Phoenix.  They call this "the valley."  It looks flat to me.  For this "Garden in the Rain," we are in a drought for the foreseeable future.

But things are good.  Nick owns a business here with his brother.  It is an adventure, but a good one.  We have found a really nice home to rent with a fantastic pool.  For the last year, we have lived within an hour of my brother, Blair, and his family, and within two miles of Nick's sister and her family.  In the next two months, both of those distances will multiply by five.

Blogging.  Well, it slowed and then it stopped.  The stop happened because of a very long story.  Here is the nutshell.  Public school was never on my good list.  We were doing the best we could.  A certain homework assignment broke this camel's back.  I knew we needed a new plan.  Homeschool? Private school?  Organize a co-op?  One thing led to another and I became the lead founder of a charter-school-in-progress.  Whoa.  Something had to give.  Several things had to give, actually, but this blog gave everything it had and died.

Lots of time and a bit of money went by and charter schools were found "unconstitutional" in Washington.  Also Casey asked Nick to join in the ownership of his company.  Also Phoenix has my favorite charter school district, a subject on which I am now quite the expert.  You'll just have to believe me about that.  And here we are, living in a desert "valley" (who are they kidding?) and the kids are attending my dream school.  For all it's orange dirt, I'm here to stay until Pierce graduates.

So why am I back?  I do love and miss this blog.  Somehow, the kids stumbled across it a few days ago.  Since then, they have been devouring it.  They are caught up in their own, short, family history. They laugh and ooh and ask "remember when?"  Often, I don't remember.  Seeing their hearts respond and realizing how fleeting memories can be, I was tempted back.  Later, as we discussed resolutions as a family, the kids knew what mine should be.  All this forces me to commit and to write.  But this is my garden and my rain.  There is no soil in Phoenix that I know how to work and there are no familiar mountains.  Snow never falls and the limited rain is hot and unfamiliar.  When rain does fall, it sits heavily for days on the parched clay that doesn't know how to breathe it in.  When I first considered coming back to this blog, I wondered with sadness what I would have to change the name to, now that I write landlocked and chapped, but I've decided that I won't change it.  I miss green gardens and gray rain, so if this can be my garden, I'll be here often.  Maybe the drought is over.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rigby Turns Six!

The best day to have a birthday is one that is not convenient for any celebrations with friends or family. That way, your birthday celebrating turns into birthweek celebrating.

PHASE ONE: friend party

Rigby requested an Angry Birds Star Wars party.  That combo seems to not be anywhere except the app.  Rigby drew me a picture of what he wanted his cake to look like, and was pretty pleased with this recreation.
 For decorations and goody-bag items, we bought a couple Angry Bird items and a couple Star Wars items.  That works, right?

 Cake time!  It was a bit disappointing when a friend at the party blew out the candles after the song.  Oh well.  We lit them again and Rigby blew!

 I let each party attendant tell me what part of the cake they wanted, even if it was in the middle.  Curie was asked last, and she just wanted her brother's name.  Pretty sweet of her.
 I borrowed a bounce house from a friend and set it up in the family room for the party.  After about a week of having it in the house, I really began to miss my usual furniture and function of that room.

PHASE TWO: actual birthday

We wanted to do a little something to acknowledge the date, so Rigby got to pick a restaurant for dinner.  Off we went to Red Robin, which does the fun birthday song and ice cream sundae.

 As usual, Pierce was handsome there.  He takes after his big brother.
And then he wasn't quite as handsome, and Curie caught it in this picture.  I really don't know how to caption it.
 Somehow the kids then talked us into going to a frozen yogurt place.  We were all completely stuffed.
 And one big present, saved for the big day, with a little present on top.

PHASE THREE: family party

Cousins eating and bouncing.


 And that was it.
Happy birthweek, Rigs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Ladies, and gentlemen, meet your newest Student Leader...ship ... Team-person.  Or trainee.  Or something that starts with T.  I don't know what it is, but Bethelle is her new class SLT!

Honestly, we are excited for her.  I may not know what the letters stand for, but the SLT group at her school is basically an elementary form of ASB.  She and one other student represent her class on this council.  They plan spirit days and discuss student ideas to improve the school.

A couple weeks ago, when we knew even less about SLT than we know now, Bethelle came home from school and told us that she needed to write an SLT speech and would we help her.  Naturally, we wanted to know what an SLT was.  She wasn't really sure, but she wanted to be one!  So let's write a speech!

With prodding, we did manage to get the essence of the group out of her.  Here is the speech that she and Nick came up with.  The video is dark, and it's just a practice-run, but it'll give you an idea of the winning performance that was given the next day.


There's bus stop style,
 and all American style.
 Here's my new hair style,

 and a party we attended, French style.

We Did the Puyallup

Some of my readers (if I have any left after my recent hiatus) will not know how to even pronounce today's post title.  For others of you, those four words brought on a flood of memories.  When I think of the Puyallup fair, I remember myself in lines for rides where I was exposed to more of the world in less time than maybe at any other time of my self-sheltered life.  From those lines I saw fourteen year-olds smoking, thirteen year-olds making out, and more skin than is usually visible in western Washington.  I recall specifically being sixteen, standing in line with my best friend, and being hit-on by a thirty-something in a red tank top with more body hair than I knew could be grown by one person.  

The Puyallup fair was the location of my first upside-down ride.  I stepped into a car at the Zipper without realizing that those cages flip all the way around.  I was quickly terrified.  The Zipper has been my favorite ride ever since.

But I was attending the fair with my family well before thirty-somethings would have thought to hit on me.  At that time, it was all about the collections and the animals, the food and the shows, the flower displays and the record-breaking pumpkins.  Thankfully, this is the stage to which I have returned.
One Wednesday, the kids played hooky from the afternoon of school due to dentist appointments.  By the time they were over, the sun was enough to convince me that the last hour of the school day was not terribly important.  My parents were already at the fair, where my mom demonstrated tatting (a dying form of lace-making), and we joined them.  When we arrived, my dad had scouted out the displays and shows that he thought we would most enjoy and gave us our own personal guided tour!

One of our favorite activities was watching this little six-man circus.  There was no flashy technology or even slights of hand; just honest tightrope walking, stunt bicycle tricks, ladder stilts, and over-acting. Perfect.
 At the end, the actors shook hands with any kids who wanted to say hello.  Mine jumped right up to go talk to them.  I love their bravery.  To me it means that they are perfectly at ease with themselves.
 I kept Pierce strapped in the stroller for most of our visit, but he did get out a bit.
 I let the kids go on just two rides each.  Getting into the fair had been a reasonable price, but the ride prices these days are out of control!  Children are multipliers, so one ride for four people cost twice as much as getting us all into the fair in the first place.  I felt that two rides was a generous offer!  At those prices, why was the ride area packed with people?!

First up was the classic, tall yellow slide with potato sacks.  I always loved that one.

For her second ride, Bethelle wanted adventure and thrill.  I told her that we would not be leaving kiddie land.  She found the fastest, scariest ride that kiddie land had to offer, and Rigby bravely joined her.  Every time they passed by us, my parents and I watched Rigby's face.  At first he looked scared, the next pass he looked sick, but pretty soon he just looked excited.
 This picture is fuzzy, but it tells a story.  Curie's second ride was a tame roller coaster.  The ride attendant put her in a car with the sweetest, quietest, most angelic little girl.  That little girl sat on the ride like a pleasant statue while Curie screamed the whole time.  She was happy, but screaming.  You can bet that I apologized to the girl's dad as we got our girls off the ride.  I'm still sorry about that.
Overall, I'd say that the fair was a parenting win.  Really, it's a prime place for whining kids who want everything in sight.  Nick and I have really tried to drill gratitude and acceptance into their heads.  I could see them wanting rides and treats that they would not be getting, but they made great efforts to act appropriately.  Even without gluttony, they had a great time seeing crafts, petting animals, watching shows, and sharing a cotton candy.

And the good news is that we should have at least six more years before hairy old men start hitting on my daughter.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Nick (Go Dawgs!)

Nick's birthday was in September.  Over the years I have learned a couple things about presents for Nick: 1) he prefers experiences to things and 2) if you're going to give him a thing anyway, it had better be Husky related.

Also, he prefers that his cake not have any actual cake in it.  Enter, Dairy Queen.
Note for next year: ask DQ to double the mint flavor.

When we sang to Nick, the kids were seated around the table.  As we began the usual song, they each pulled a new Husky hat off of their hidden laps and put them on their heads.  Nick loved it.

Here they are, being put to good use.

Happy birthday, Nick.

And Then School Begins

The first day.  They're always a little hard.  It means a change from the freedom of summer, but then again there is a certain kind of freedom that comes from the re-establishing of routine.  Bethelle is now in third grade and attending a new school, so there was a real excitement to it.
 I'm really proud of her for not only being willing to try the new place, but for her confidence to just jump on the bus and walk almost blindly into a new routine that she would have to figure out as she goes.  She has a gift for unassuming bravery.
 Kindergarten started several days later, but on the same day that Bethelle began school, Rigby had an appointment to meet his teacher.  She talked to him in a gentle way, but was actually testing him.  As they talked, I sat on the other side of the room, quietly filling out paperwork.  Rigby was awesome.  He was confident but respectful.  He could do all of the skills that she asked him to do.  When he read everything that she had near her for him to read, she got up and went to another room to find a harder book that would take him closer to his limit.  When it was over, Rigby knew he had won.  We walked to the car and he said, "My teacher is getting a really good student."  I would pay a lot of money for him to have that kind of confidence.
 On the actual first day, Rigby was pumped.  He was ready.

When he got home we had this little conversation:

Me: So?!  How was it?!  Was in awesome?
Rigby: Well, I kinda had a bad day.
Me:  You did?  What happened?
Rigby:  Well, the whole time we just played and learned stuff.  (frown)

Clearly I had set the wrong expectation somewhere.  After talking with him later, he explained that the only "learning" that they did was about the rules and where the bathroom is and how to walk in a line and put the caps back on the markers.  This was not quite what he was going to school for.  I think he was looking for the mysteries of the universe to be unfolded and for ways to really shine.  It'll come, my baby.  You're the man.