Saturday, January 31, 2009


We got a surprise package this week from a mysterious giver. I'm pretty sure it was Jeff who sent it. Okay, I'm positive it was because when we asked him he said yes, it was him. He's humble like that. In the surprise package was Wii Fit. I'm still trying to figure out his motive and at the same time am thinking I shouldn't post so many pictures. Just remember Jeff... the camera adds ten pounds! So does anyone else have Wii Fit? We didn't even open it for a couple of days, just gave it some wary looks in passing, until Kaylee decided it was time we check it out. The kids have been messing around with it and telling me how fun it is. How I need to make my own Mii and have my fitness assessment done.

I sort of knew it wasn't going to end well before I started, but I guess I was not ready for certain truths to be revealed. According to Wii criteria, I am overweight, under balanced, and have a Wii age of 62 years! That's right, I am older than my own mother. Taking into consideration that this game was created by a race of people who eat little more than rice and fish, and who, primarily get around using pedal power, I still don't see how they can tell me I am 23 years older than my natural age!!! Basically I should have had a dozen or so mammograms, two colonoscopies, and be well past menopause by now. The senior discounts will be nice though.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I can't put my thoughts together to make much sense so I thought I'd just post more pictures of our lovely new (temporary) home. People keep telling me if I think it's pretty now, wait a couple of months when everything is in full bloom. This makes me think I didn't plan to be here long enough. Should we stay a little longer? Kids?

Walking the dogs in the park

Sunburns here can be brutal... even the trees are peeling!

Desert Octopus

Forcing a smile

Weirdest tree ever

I dunno. I just liked the way this pic turned out

I get asked on occasion why I love the desert so much. Why do I prefer the heat and sparse landscape to a lush, green, dense forest? I don't know why for sure, some preferences come with us as part of the package, I guess. The desert tells me stories of survival... beating the odds to live and bloom another day. I suppose anyone who really knows me well would understand why it's so beautiful to me to see these thorny, angry, against all odds creatures produce such beautiful flowers.

Monday, January 26, 2009


In case we needed another reason to hate Mondays... To maximize our time together on weekends when Jeff comes down, he has scheduled his flights home on Monday mornings. Jeff and I woke this morning around 5 a.m. An hour of the day that no one should ever have to be witness to! The worst part- we really didn't need to get up until 6 so we had to lay there thinking about the next 10 long days until he can visit us again. I was brave though. I figure being brave is the least I can do for everyone else since this whole arrangement is my fault. Driving to the airport has not been a big issue, traffic is not too bad... come to think of it... traffic is never really much of an issue here in AZ. But once we pull up to the drop-off area, Kaylee starts in with the tears. I'm not allowed to cry for the same reason I have to be brave. Hugs and kisses, and then he is gone. It sucks!

We had a great weekend though. We went to the Desert Botanical Gardens on Saturday where they are hosting the Chihuly glass exhibit for a few months. It was a nice afternoon, we learned what most of the prickly, spiny plants are that have taken a chunk out of us more than once. I took about 200 photos while we were there, but I won't post that many! Besides, only a few turned out really well.

One of the blown glass chandeliers

The Fam

More glass and cacti

A horrible wound!

Glass balls in a boat. Why? Not sure... it's art, ya know?

Purple flowers, in winter, in the desert.

The boys

Kaylee's growing interest in pots

It's called "The Blue Boat"

Beautiful but dangerous ground cover


We had a great weekend. Besides our trip to the Botanical Gardens, we had a yummy dinner and visit with the Woodards, we played games, watched movies, and enjoyed being together! Thanks Dad for your time, your snuggles, and for being here this weekend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


For our homeschool lessons today we watched the Presidential Inauguration along with as much other media coverage as we could fit in. I've been looking forward to this day since November and even though we didn't have our DVR, or many alternate channels to watch, we still managed to be a part of the stuff that really mattered. Although I certainly did vote in this election, and I certainly did have a candidate I wanted more than the other, I have just been excited to be a part of this monumental time in our Country's History. We would have been glued to the t.v. this morning no matter who was being sworn in. Encouraging my kids to be interested in our political processes and our unique system of government is one of the responsibilities I have as a homeschooler (along with teaching sex ed., ugh!). It is our freedom to choose that allows us to homeschool. But, as it turned out, not only were we able to witness the change of power from one President to the Next, we were also able to witness one of the great moments in time. I think I was eight or nine years old when I became aware of Human Rights issues. I remember hearing rumblings from the adults around me, and then from classmates or friends who were also hearing things, over certain issues at that time. I still have pretty vivid memories of my feelings and thoughts about how I was supposed to think that some people were not as "special" or were not equals to me. The aftertaste is still bitter. It was also the time in my education where I was really learning about U.S. History, The Declaration of Independence, The Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and The Gettysburg Address. I couldn't make it all work in my mind. Woe is the nine year old child facing a major moral dilemma! I just love ya all! So the little hippie in me (I was born in the 1960s, barely, but still...) was just the teensiest bit excited about the declaration we all just made as Americans today. LOVE, love, love. Keep the love a comin'!

I thought the Inauguration was beautiful, yet "real," with the couple of human blunders and what looked like freezing weather conditions. I really noticed this time how much emphasis is placed upon the fact that leadership is passed PEACEFULLY from one president to another, and the fact that this is still a way that WE are a good example to many other countries of the World. I loved looking at so many smiling faces today! I don't care how simple it sounds that I believe smiling is a step toward healing what ails us. I also don't care how silly it might seem that I actually felt a tangible air of hope today emanating from what must have been millions of people worldwide. And I felt a renewed sense of ownership in our great Country. We do have a new leader, who seems to be doing a great job so far of inspiring people to new hope and action. I thought it was right of President Obama to put an equal share of the responsibility back on all of us to make things better. I was impressed by Vice President Cheney, tough old goat, making the ceremony, even while in what I know from experience is terrible pain. Jeff has had back and disk injuries before and it is NOT pretty. No telling how much Vicodin and muscle relaxers it took to get him there... probably the real reason for the wheel chair :). I also learned today that what the First Lady wears is almost as important as what The President says at these things. If you could've seen the ensemble I had on today, you would've been sure that I could never be First Lady material.

Today I basked in the feelings of hope and anticipation. Tomorrow, who knows. Aw who am I kidding?! Tomorrow I'll still be feeling it!

Monday, January 19, 2009


After all was said and done, we finally had our High Tea. And here are the pictures to prove it...

We made lemon tarts to have with our tea. YUM!

The cute little teapot we spent two days trying to obtain.

Raspberry Zinger tea looks so much yummier in cute little blue teacups.

Kaylee doesn't like it when I explode the flash from the camera in her face...tee hee.

And this is what happens...

...when you have...

...too much sugar!

I think she is a humming bird now!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I know even before starting this post that I will get little sympathy. And not because you all don't love me, of course. More because I have defected from the lands of snow and cold, and now only blog about lovely, sunny days, and endless blue skies. But this is a sad tale that must to told.

It started yesterday with an idea. Kaylee had the idea that she wanted to have some mommy/daughter time and that we should have a fancy tea party. She wanted to bake goodies, find some yummy herbal teas, and get a proper teapot and cups. We made a grocery list and set out to get all the things on the list. And then I made my first mistake. See... I'm still a newbie in this town and so I don't always end up where I've intended to go in the beginning. You can't blame me for forgettin' that not ALL Target stores are Super! So, I couldn't get my groceries... there was still that pizza cutter and slotted spoon we've been living without. My remedy for most problems is just to "shop it off." You would think that Target (or even Super Target) would carry tea sets, I thought so. They do not.

Still, we needed those groceries and I was taking no chances this time! We headed to Sprouts, the local whole foods store, to make sure we could get our herbal teas (and to hopefully get a tea set without making another stop). Now this is where things start to get a little fuzzy for me. Somehow, without really knowing what happened, it was nearly dark and dinner time, we had just picked Brit up from they gym, and we were coming home from our day of shopping with no tea set, a yoga DVD and mat, and refills for our doggie poop bag dispenser. Obviously there'd been a stop at Petco at some point. Does this ever happen to anyone else? A whole day wasted in the car with nothing but poopie bags and slotted spoons to show for it? I didn't really even have anything to make for dinner!

Day two dawned this morning and I felt sure that I was going to finish what I had started. Bed Bath and Beyond would be the perfect place to find a huge selection of tea sets. I found their web site, used their store locater, and found a store really close to where we're staying. Simple, efficient, effective! We drove, Kaylee and I, the short distance to our nearest location, and oooooo!!! We uncovered a treasure that had been hidden right out our back door all this time! I admit I got a little distracted by the fact that we have a whole, new shopping complex just a couple of blocks from our rv park. With Kohl's, and Ross, and Jamba Juice and, and... Gateway Movies 12!!! I almost lost sight of the mission I was so excited, but no, I had to focus! A few deep breaths and we were in the parking lot of BB&B. K, now I don't usually diss people, but if you are gonna name your store Bed, Bath, AND Beyond, you really ought ta have the Beyond stuff! We walked out without a tea set (yet somehow we still were not leaving empty handed :) and I was pretty much hating tea, and parties, and even sugar cubes at that point. But the look on my little girl's face made me think I needed to try just a little bit harder. I only had one other friend to turn to... the Internet. It was Kaylee, actually, who found Abbey Garden Teahouse and Gifts, located way out in Chandler, miles and miles from where we are living in East Mesa. But it didn't matter how far because it was an actual Teahouse where actual teas and tea sets were sold. So we loaded up just one more time into the big, loud, clumsy, black truck to finally score our goal. And we drove the 1/2 hour to Abbey Garden Teahouse and Gifts. And we got there at 5:15 p.m., a full 45 minutes before they close. But they were closed. Closed for good it turns out... they had recently gone out of business. And then the tears started. Because we had been through so much already, and all we wanted was to have our damn tea party, and that didn't seem to much to ask.

And now we are back in the truck, and Kaylee is sniffling, and I am fuming, and Brit is quiet as a mouse because he knows better than to open his mouth when two girls are disappointed, and we're making the 1/2 hour drive back home. And I'm not saying that I'm putting any one's life in danger, but I am saying that there were a few people giving me a wide berth in which to maneuver because they were probably thinking it was better to give that crazy Utah girl with smoke coming out of her ears, in the big, black truck, and skull with glowing red eyes on the back, some space in which to work these things out. This is about the time that it hit me... I could not give up now! I had one more field to flush out on this wild goose chase. We were going to Pier 1!

My story has a happy ending. We just finished some yummy peppermint tea. Somehow it tasted so much better to drink it from a proper teapot and cups :) Funny coincidence: Jeff was out on a real wild goose chase today in Idaho. Wonder if his was half as frustrating as ours?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


There have been many occasions during the past two weeks for me to be amazed. Today I was struck by how adaptive we humans are. Surely our ability to adapt to new surroundings and continue to survive has assured our place as one of the living, thriving species on this planet. The kids and I have been in our winter quarters now for two weeks and we have already established a new life here. I was worried that all the change would cause major issues with the kids, or the animals, or with me. So worried in fact that I pretty much ruined the whole month of December for myself in fits of worry and anxiety! On one of our first nights here in Arizona, Brit performed an alarmingly accurate psychoanalysis of my tendencies to worry about absolutely everything. He said, "Mom, I don't know how you are even still alive with all the worrying you do. You worry about every single day to day thing, and you worry about things in the past, and you even worry about stuff that hasn't happened yet. You try to think of every possible thing that could ever happen, and then you worry about how to deal with those unseen things in case they ever actually happen." It's so true. I do that. But here we are two weeks later, doing just fine, doing even better in some ways than we were at home. The flip side to our easy transition, is of course, that we have kind of manipulated our lives here to resemble our the lives we left behind. We used to have a membership at our local Rec. Center where Kaylee took some fitness classes and Brit and I would workout. Before we left for this adventure I looked up the local rec. centers close by so that we could join right away. There was something so comforting about walking through those doors yesterday and spending the next 1/2 hour on a treadmill. Mapquest is my best friend nowadays and I have found all the places we would normally go. One of Brit's favorite places to eat is in Draper, called Gual Bertos, it's a Mexican food drive thru where you can get the yummiest burritos made with homemade tortillas and lots of lard. Guess what we found here? Fili Bertos. We still have Target, and Petco, and IHOP for brunch. We brought with us two dogs and two cats so we still have animals to love and to fill up too many hours of our day with their care and maintenance. We have television (horrible, awful, antenna tv), our laptops and internet, cell phones, the Wii. We have our favorite DVDs to watch and our favorite books to read. We found a church to attend on Sundays, a couple of home school groups to get involved with, and several prospects for tennis. There are obvious differences about being here. Jeff doesn't come home every night. But we've adapted, or manipulated that detail as well. We talk each night via web cam and we almost have more of his time in this new arrangement than we did when we were all under the same roof! We can text and i/m each other whenever we need to. We are lucky. We have the means and opportunity to use this manipulation of circumstances and surroundings to make this major life change so easy for us. This adventure is not without it's challenges, but they are manageable because we have all the tools to adapt.

I have thought a lot about the other people who are living here with us too. Many of our new and temporary neighbors are families. We are in one of the few rv parks in Arizona that allow kids, or even patrons under age 55(Mesa is made up of mostly old people). From what I can gather, we are the only family here who are not making this our primary home. We are here purely by our own choice. We are not in some kind of major life transition. How much harder would this be if it was our only choice? How much harder would it be if we did not have our comfy home to go back to whenever we choose? From a distance they seem to have adapted to this lifestyle and they are friendly enough. It's hard to ignore each other when you live just a few feet away from your neighbors. This aspect of our stay in Arizona reminds me to stay very grateful for my own circumstances. I'm not trying to imply that living in an rv campground is an inferior way of living, I'm just saying that I have so many choices, and that it is a blessing.

Already my health is improving. That's a good thing, since the point of this crazy escapade is to give me a better quality of life. The plan is working! Of course this fact makes me happy. What makes me even more happy, though, is that at this very moment, my little Kaylee is outside playing with her new friends.
Turns out there is another 11 year old girl living only 30 feet from us. I overheard them reading aloud to each other from the Twilight books. I always wanted to live in a neighborhood where I could send the kids out the front door to play with friends! This is a little luxury we don't even have at home.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I am trying, really, really, trying to learn how to use my new fancy camera to make pretty pictures. When we decided to visit Usery State Park on Saturday I thought it was the perfect opportunity to practice.

I started with something easy like this Saguaro in the distance...

Then we had to stop because "someone" had to take a "work" call! Can you believe? Working on a Saturday, in the middle of all this?

My attempt at a close-up shot... a little off center.

Another shot of the people... slightly out of focus and too far away! I'm sure I'll get better...

I had to get a shot of this spiny devil! So here's the story... one of the dogs, Dodger, got a sticker in his paw from one of these terrible, awful, trees. He tried to lick it out but only got spikes in his muzzle, so I grabbed at the sticker to get it out, but that horrible thing grabbed onto me right back! Those stickers have barbs, like fish hooks in them that grab onto your skin and will not let go without a fight. We fought, the sticker and me, and eventually I prevailed. No hard feelings good sir, but I will be posting a picture of warning to any person, unawares of your evil appendages, who may find themselves hiking in the Arizona desert.

A picture of Kaylee... taking a picture.

The kids called this the cage tree. It did resemble a kind of Medieval trap.

Saguaro skeleton.

Usery is a gorgeous place. I realize that appreciation of the desert is an individual thing, but I don't know how anyone could visit this amazing place, and not admit to it's beauty. Oh, and I had some pretty good hiking companions as well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Do you think that a week is enough time to know you are in love? We have been in our sunny, winter home for a full week now and here are some of the things we love about this place...

Weekly deep cleaning of our trailer, top to bottom, only takes 30 minutes!

Daily walks in the park... in shorts!

Leaves on trees!

Flowers in winter.

There's time for chillin'.

We could get used to this!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is! This is the song that has been playing in my head today, I think because we can now use the toilets in our trailer again, without having to chase the little doodies down with bottled water. I know that the jingle from an old Alka Seltzer commercial really has nothing to do with using the toilet, but, come on, we all have a bit of early adolescence left in us, right? I'm serious... I'm not the only one!

Yesterday the kids and I had to tackle fixing a leaky overflow valve for our water heater. Why would this affect the toilets you ask? Because everything is linked in this tiny place, and if one valve is leaking, the rest of the trailer cannot have water. We could only turn the water on when we absolutely had to have it, and then we were sopping up water from our kitchen floor until all water pressure was gone. Jeff tried a temporary fix before he left using Mighty Putty (you've seen the commercials, right?) but that stuff does NOT fix leaky valves. We have tons of it (Mighty Putty), so I guess if we break all the handles off our coffee mugs, we're covered! Anywho... in case you all find yourselves living in an rv, miles and miles from home, in a strange state, surrounded by strangers, I thought this little tutorial would come in handy...

Take a photo of leaky valve to email to brother-in-law who happens to be the parts manager at your local rv supply shop.

Drive on over to rv supply shop to pick up parts and get instructions on how to fix the problem.

Now head over to the closest Home Depot to get these to cut the tubes that need fixing. Yes, you probably already have two of these same tools sitting at home in your garage, but that's not going to help you here, is it?!

Return to trailer ready to work!

Make your first incision.

Second incision and removal of leaky valve.

You can see the Mighty Putty on it (hee hee).

Take a moment to pause for a silly self-portrait.

Use your hair dryer to heat up the tubing so that you can fit the parts together. Hey, you have to be able to improvise!




It was really no big thang. Fun even. So if you're ever stuck living in a 5th wheel trailer with a leaky water heater valve, call me, cuz I'm your authority on that.