Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back Door Friends

I've heard they're the best kind, but I'm not so sure. We have one who comes daily and although he's nice enough, he has no qualms about scarfing down our food without an invitation. We don't actually know his name but our non-PC kids have named him (for obvious reasons) Old Fatty.

Cholita loves him and screams with glee when he appears at the back door. "Old Fatty's here! Old Fatty's here!" The other day I was upstairs when Cho joined me in my room. She had guilt written all over her face and I wondered which wall she'd written on this time. She couldn't even keep eye contact. "Mom," she said looking at the floor. "I did something....but I just can't say it." As I encouraged her to spit it out I heard something laboring up the stairs. "I...I....well...." Something was panting its way down the hall. "I let Old Fatty in the house!" Cholita blurted it out just as Old Fatty rounded the corner.

I have 2 large dogs. I often look at our dogs and think it's insane that we let them share our house, but they're ours and I'm willing to claim them. Old Fatty is not ours and based on his girth I doubt he's a stray. The Three Amigos was a nice movie, but the canine version is not something I'm interested in. Old Fatty needs to get his geriatric El Guapo self back home.

P.S. And no, that isn't a third food dish. It's a water dish and two food dishes. Old Fatty seems to think otherwise.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blog Distraction: Spring!

My Cholita tromping through the tulips.
If I've been a delinquent blogger, I have a good excuse. I've been distracted by Spring. Cho is my garden helper and always urging me to to"go check on the flowers".

We put in a circular path around our cherry tree last year and planted lamb's ears and bulbs around the base. I was disappointed with these tulips when they first bloomed. They were such a blah yellow color, but they've matured into this pretty coral that I'm quite fond of.

Some of them even sport a red petal or two and we all know Cholita appreciates a splash of red. There are some aliums mixed in there too that are yet to bloom and Cholita and I check on them daily . Something about a watched pot never boiling I'm sure applies to bulbs as well. And to the Redbud tree pictured below. Come on already!!!

We planted flowers in the barn window boxes and Lyle's been laying new paths in the vegetable garden.

The snow capped Olympic Mountains are such a beautiful backdrop on a sunny Spring day. There's nowhere else I'd rather live and no one else I'd rather have as my gardening buddy.

Now if I could just find the motivation to make the inside of the house look decent, life would be almost perfectly beautiful.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's all about ME!!

I can remember when I was in college I read in my child development textbook that toddlers are egocentric creatures. Even with my limited child rearing experience at the time, I didn't think that was really groundbreaking news. Besides teenagers, I don't think anyone is quite so full of themselves as a toddler and my little Cholita is no exception.

She's started reading and has an odd yet endearing tendency to play favorites. She has several words that she really likes and one word that she loves. She scans every story before she starts to see if she can find this beloved word. She asks me to write it, to finger spell it, to discuss at length the greatness of this word. "Mom," she'll say as we sit down to read something, "Do you think there are any M's and E's that are put together in this book?" Well, we can only hope.

Yes, my egocentric toddler's very favorite word is....of course....ME!

Monday, April 13, 2009

They grow up so fast

I actually heard myself saying this to a young mom the other day and I immediately wanted to gag. I can't count how many times I heard this when my kids were tiny and time seemed to creep at a snail's pace. Now as of today I have a FIFTEEN year old and I feel ancient!

Our first baby wore us out. Completely, totally exhausted us. But, wow, were we smitten.

Fifteen years ago, Lyle, the proud papa, didn't even look old enough to be the dad. Maybe the big brother or teenage babysitter, but certainly not the dad. And no, we didn't get married in high school.

Bruder was our fattest baby by far. It was kind of a point of pride. Yep, my milk produced that volume of chunk.

We chronicled his every holiday, every "first". He has FIVE volumes of finished scrapbooks complete with prolific journaling. (And surprisingly with all of that writing, there's not a single sentence explaining what was happening with my bangs.)

And now our baby's fifteen. Last night (birthday eve) he pestered us until we caved and gave him his present a day early. An electric guitar--what were we thinking? Up until now, our house has always been so calm and peaceful and so this will be quite a change for us. Honestly, the words "calm" and "peaceful" haven't described our home for, hmmmm.....let's see......about fifteen years.

They grow up so fast.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Muy Bien

Our Home Away From Home

The Mariner of the Sea.
This boat was amazing. There were the expected swimming pools and hot tubs, but there was also an ice skating rink, miniature golf, climbing wall, basketball court, Main Street Promenade, salon, day spa, etc. etc. The service was exceptional. I dearly miss our stateroom attendant, Hassan. He was from Indonesia. Our waiter was from Jamaica, our assistant waitress from Brazil and our Head waiter from India. When Lyle spoke Portuguese to our waitress, she literally jumped, she was so surprised. He told her he was a missionary in Brazil and she said, "Oh yes. We have many Seventh Day Adventists."

Someone was thinking when they designed this ship. The playroom for Cholita's age group (3-5) is in a quiet corner of the boat, but to get to the rooms for 5 up through teens, you had to travel through the den of temptation--the video arcade. The girls played some pricey air hockey. For the adults, to get to the theatre, you had to pass through the casino. Same concept.

On our boat was the Harley Davidson "Hogs on the High Seas" convention. Interesting people. Very interesting take on formal wear. Lots of leather.

Here Lucy is checking out the rock climbing wall. Behind her is the basketball court where Lyle made us all proud by bringing home the bronze in the 3 on 3 basketball tournament. He met up with two other "mature" men and they smoked several younger teams. The gold went to Team BYU (what is it with Mormons and basketball?) even though Lyle's team beat them. It was a double elimination thing and Lyle said, "Team Tank Top just had our number."

The helper Lucy had for the rock wall was quite petite. Thankfully that freed up the hulking man on the next line for me.

Lucy was awesome and scampered up the wall and rang the bell.

With help from He Man on the rope, I also rang the bell.

And of course, Bruder couldn't be shown up by the girls. I didn't see it, but I heard Lyle ran up the wall like Spiderman and even little Rose rang the middle bell.

Yeah, we're good.
I experienced a "first" on the boat. My very first facial. I'd always wanted one and thought since I was in total pampering mode, it was a good time. Cecelia from South Africa surprised me when she said, "Alright, I'll just need you to remove your shirt and bra and we'll get started." Anyone who knows me, knows I like complete coverage. I reminded Cecelia that I was getting a facial. She looked shocked that obviously I was a facial virgin and said, "Of course we don't just do your face. We do your whole decolletage." With the South African accent, she made cleavage sound very high class, but I told her that since no one ever sees my decolletage, we were A-O.K. She waved me off and said, "Oh, don't be silly."

After my facial/decolletage work-over, I moved onto the hair salon. My beautician, also from South Africa, looked at my hair with a frown, lifted a few pieces here and there and said, "It has potential." That was encouraging. She wanted to do highlights and I told her my fear was that I'd look zebra-striped. Apparently it's a theme with these South African beauticians because she waved me off and said, "Oh, don't be silly." So, I left not only with a soft and silky decolletage, but also some funky stripes.

Cabo San Lucas

Lucy's always had a talent for making friends.

The shopping in Mexico was right up Rose's ally. Cheap little items that she could bargain for. She loved it.

While Lyle and the big kids went to snorkel and kayak, I took the little girls to the beach where Rose drank her lemonade and looked like she was posing for some Lifestyle Magazine. And then....We did it! Rose and I can both say that we've kissed a dolphin. And yes, Cholita cried. Thankfully she was "gratis". The picture above sure wasn't.

Mazatlan was beach day. It was perfectly glorious. Isn't Cholita adorable? Don't you wish everyone on the beach was so pleasant to behold?

The big girls had their hair braided and I experienced an Ah-Ha moment of sorts. Rose, our Screaming Banshee when it comes to hair combing, sat quiet as a mouse for what looked like some pretty violent braiding. I asked her afterward if it hurt. "Oh, yes!" she said. "It hurt so much." I asked her the obvious, why she didn't cry. "Well, " she said. "That would be rude." Hmmmm.

This style afforded me three days of no hair combing. Yes, it was indeed a vacation.

Bruder para-sailed! Here he is, ready for take-off.

Looking slightly concerned.
But probably not as concerned as his mother.

Who was very glad to have him return to Terra ferma.

Bruder had the best landing we saw all day.

Obviously he was pleased with the experience.

The little girls were just in Heaven.

And even when she tired out, Cholita just changed position and kept digging.

Bruder struck the pose men are supposed to strike while on the beach.

And Lyle, our honorary book club member read, "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency", which made me laugh. I made a serious mistake by bringing just one book on the cruise. I was desperately wishing for book number 2 in the series.
It was a perfect day.

Puerta Vallarta
Any exotic animals were put on Lucy. I don't know why.

The little girls stayed on the boat while Lyle and I took the big kids on the most amazing adventure. First, we left the boat and got onto this high-speed raft that took us to a charming little town at the base of a mountainous jungle.

It was beautiful. From there, we rode an open-air bus into the mountain. Then we got on mules where we climbed higher still. With rappelling gear and helmets, we zip-lined over the jungle and rappelled down waterfalls and hiked through streams. They allowed no cameras. They had their own photographer snapping away the whole time. I just couldn't bring myself to buy the $100 photo CD, but in my mind, oh, it was amazing.

Here is our darling Mexican Chinese-American, Cholita.
We headed home with fond memories of Mexico that we'll never forget.
A perfect vacation.