Thursday, July 29, 2010

Swim Lessons

I signed Booker up for swim lessons two weeks ago. The night before his first lesson he was up late stressing. He didn't want to go, he can't swim in the deep end, he can't hold his breath, etc. He was overcome with anxiety. I think he even wet the bed that night.

The next morning, we showed up at the local pool and Booker had the meltdown of the century. It was mortifying. I tried bribing him. I tried shaming him. I tried punishing him. Nothing worked. He wouldn't get in the water. I failed.

I took him home.

I put him on time out.

I told him he could come off time out if he agreed to get in the water the next day.

He wouldn't agree.

He spent four hours in his room on time out.

Four hours.

I got bored.

I went up to his room and told him to put his swim suit on.

We went back to the pool. Just me, Booker and Ike. No swim teachers. No audience of parents. No pressure. He put on his goggles and jumped into the deep end. And just like that, he was swimming alone and in the deep end for the first time in his life.

Photobucket

I don't get this kid. Thankfully I've got some time to figure him out. It's going to take me 18 years though, I'm sure of that. After that first day, swim lessons were a breeze. He would still hesitate a bit when he had to try new things but eventually it clicked. Now he's doing big arms, back floats, stream line and even tries diving into the pool. Our pool at home just got much more interesting for Booker.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Last night I told Booker that today would be his last day of swim lessons and on the last day everyone gets to go down the slide. He panicked. He can't go down slides. On fact, he told me that he can't go down big yellow slides. They're too fast. Any other color, fine. But not yellow. He can't swim at the bottom. He wasn't go to do it. Fine, I said. I don't care anymore.

Photobucket

But something must changed- peer pressure, the promise of an otter pop? Who knows. But for some reason he marched up those steps and did it. Making me one proud mama. I wish I could have caught him at the bottom.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Carly and Sadie

There aren't a lot of circumstances in which you plan a visit to Tucson in the middle of July. Maybe if someone offered you gobs of money or held a gun up to your head.

But my friend Carly had some frequent flyer miles to spend and a husband out of town (or so she thought- his trip was canceled last minute), so she hopped on a plane with her daughter and visited us for a few days.

Photobucket

I feel really lucky to have Carly as a friend. We were close in high school (even though she was popular and I wasn't), we were closer our freshman year at BYU when we both lived in David John and we were really close our junior year when we were roommates. We both met our future husbands that year and even though we didn't see much of each other, I loved living with you, Carly!

Photobucket

Having Carly and Sadie around for a few days was such a blast. I loved having an adult around to talk to during the day and Booker and Ike went crazy for Sadie. We need a baby girl in our house. Permanently. Immediatamente. Ojal√° fuera un anuncio, pero no es.

Photobucket

It's hard entertaining someone from out of town when it's this hot outside so we mostly stuck to swimming in the pool and indoor activities. We spent an afternoon at the Children's Museum which despite being overpriced, is a lot of fun. Even Sadie was able to find fun new things to... chew on.

Photobucket

We also headed over to Trail Dust Town to see a stunt show, ride the train, pan for gold, etc. I was worried that Sadie would be bothered by the loud gun shots, explosions and what not, but she was totally unaffected. Ike was quite tense the whole time. He spent the entire drive home whispering, "Shoot. Boom. Fire. Shoot. Boom. Fire." It was a little disturbing.

Photobucket

Photobucket
I love a good monsoon-y sky.

Photobucket

Overall, it was such a great visit. I was reminded that I need to be better about maintaining those friendships that are important to me. Blogging and Facebook can be great ways to stay in touch, but they're no substitute for the real thing. And as much as I'd like it to be, texting is not the same as picking up the phone and actually talking to someone. It's hard traveling with kids but I'd like to take a cue from Carly and make an effort to actually visit those people I love but don't get to see very often. I'm thinking trips to Knoxville, Berkeley and Boston are in order!


Photobucket

More photos from our visit here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

California 2010

It's hard to explain why I like this vacation so much. By all accounts, it shouldn't make sense. Camping? With your in-laws? Public showers? 30+ kids running around at all hours? Air mattresses? These things should not add up to an incredible vacation.

But they do.

Why?

Because I love Clark's family. So stinkin' much. And our annual beach trip makes it possible for us to eat, sleep, play and roast Starbursts together around the clock for a week straight. I love every minute. Not true. I hate the minutes early in the morning when I have to share a tent with my boys after they wake up. But Clark usually deals with them and those minutes were few and far between for me. It turns out, I can fall back asleep just fine on an air mattress.

Photobucket
Speaking of tents... here's our Vacation Lodge. One thing I love about camping is setting up your site. I love creating a space to live out of nothing, complete with carpets, fans and laundry hampers. I take my tent very seriously. Just ask the girls from Girls' Camp last year.

Photobucket
I wish I had taken more photos back at the campground. Bocci ball is not as boring as I once thought. Quite fun actually.

Photobucket
There's not much to this vacation... it's all about the beach.

Photobucket
Not much has changed since last year, although this year Booker finally decided to venture into the water. It took two days but he finally got over his fear of the ocean.

Photobucket
As usual, Greg and Dave built an awesome tunnel system. This one eventually had two tunnels.

Photobucket
Ike learned pretty fast that even though we were at the beach, he still had to take a nap. He was pretty good about going down.

Photobucket
My little snuggle bear. I loved it.

Photobucket
Sometimes it took him a really long time to wake up.

Photobucket
We took walks on the pier and made lots of trips to the ice cream store.

Photobucket
But mostly, our focus was on the water...

Photobucket

Photobucket
And on the sand.

Photobucket
And hanging out with cousins, naturally.

Photobucket
Lots of cousins.

Photobucket
Booker had so much fun that at one point he came up and informed me "that all the fun was making his tummy hurt." I'm surprised that he only got one migraine the entire week. He recognized it right away and came over to lie down under the shade.

Photobucket
Ike offered up his blankie to make it better.

Photobucket
For the past couple of years, Clark's grandma (who lives in Escondido) comes and joins us for an afternoon. Here's a picture of Booker with his great grandma, Grammy and his Grandma (Clark's mom).

Photobucket
This year I was able to read 5 books without my two kids getting lost, kidnapped by guys with white power tattoos or swept out into the ocean. I consider this to be a great success. The countdown until next year has officially started.

Photobucket

More photos here.

SeaWorld

Photobucket

Oh SeaWorld. I'm trying to convince myself that you were worth visiting. You see, I bought tickets that will let us return again sometime this year, so I want to believe that I had a really good time. And for the most part, I did have a good time and I think we will return in the Fall. The kids LOVED every minute. I just have a very low tolerance for super crowded amusement parks and hot weather. Not even a caramel apple funnel cake covered in soft serve ice cream could lift my spirits. I hate crowds.

I'm glad we brought Dax along (the older, cooler, braver cousin), because he definitely helped Booker get over his fear of whales, sharks, bat rays, moray eels, starfish, flamingoes, cotton candy, so on and so forth. The shows were fantastic and Booker tried everything at least once (feeding sting rays, going on a "scary"ride) because he had Dax by his side. Hopefully it won't be so crowded when we come back.

Danny

The strangest thing happened yesterday.

Danny turned up.

After weeks of no word from him at all, he turned up. He turned up in a bad way but it could be worse. It could always be worse. My sibling intuition was dead on. Something terrible was happening to my brother two nights ago. I wasn't just being a crazy person.

I wish I could say it was my worrying that willed him back into our lives but I know that's not true. If it were true, I would worry him back to sobriety. I would worry him into a job and a stable living environment. I would worry up a good group of friends that love him and don't beat him within an inch of his life. Heck, I would put my kids in daycare and make worrying about Danny my full time job.

If only it worked that way.

I hesitate to share all this. I'd rather be blogging about the fun things we did in California and I will soon. I guess it's just been on my mind lately, consuming my life in fact. I don't receive distinct spiritual promptings very often. I watch too much reality TV, you see. But two nights ago the Holy Ghost told me to pray for my little brother. And not just pray but actually get on your knees and make it a good one, Margaret, because you might not have many more opportunities to pray for this kid. And so I did. Worrying doesn't bring about change but I have a testimony that fervent prayer can.

Thank you to everyone who has included my little brother in yours prayers lately. It means so much to me.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

GASP

I have an awful habit of worrying about things that I can't control. Last night, I decided to worry about my little brother. I decided this at about midnight and dedicated 3 hours of my sleeping time to fretting. Something was gnawing at me. My sibling intuition told me that something terrible was going on with Danny at that very moment. I wish I could flip a switch and turn all this worry off. But I couldn't so I tossed and turned and watched reality TV and finally dozed off a few hours before the sun came up.

Clark has an awful habit of waking up early. Like really early. And when he wakes up, he stays in bed for a minute and checks his email. At 6 o'clock this morning, Clark lay in bed with his phone and GASPED. Clark never gasps. Clark is not phased by much. This morning, Clark GASPED and uttered, "Oh. My. Goodness."

This is it, I thought. The bad news I've been expecting for the last 4 years. I was half asleep and not thinking too clearly, but I knew that the other shoe had finally dropped. A police report, a coroner's report perhaps. And then I woke up a bit more. Duh, coroners don't send emails. They call you. Police probably do they same. It's from my dad. The fear set in. My dad is emailing us to tell us that Danny is gone. An overdose maybe. I felt like I was going to vomit. But surely my dad would call with this type of news and not email us? I wasn't quite awake yet.

"What is it, Clark?" I didn't really want to know, but I guess I had find out sooner or later.

"Our electric bill for last month. Have you seen it?"

Actually, I had. I was up late searching the internet for information about homeless shelters in the city where Danny was last seen, foolishly hoping that maybe they had some sort of online photo directory of their guests. I was desperate. Our monthly receipt of payment from the Tucson Electric Company showed up in my inbox shortly after midnight. Last month was a hot, hot month here in Arizona. No wonder Clark gasped.

So that was it. My fear dissipated and the sleep rushed back into me. Clark went on about how we need to make some changes around our house and I yelled at him for daring to talk to me so early in the morning, especially after he knew I had been up late. And then I yelled at him in my head for GASPING so much. I'm grumpy in the mornings. I'm grumpy in the mornings even after I get the good news (no news, right?) that my brother is maybe, possibly, perhaps just fine.

My sleep is very important to me. And for that reason, and maybe a few others, I'm thinking about attending an Al-Anon meeting. Maybe even making a habit of it. I'm going to suggest that Clark attend a GASPERS Anonymous Meeting as well. You know, just a suggestion. Because as long as Danny is MIA, there will be no gratuitous gasping around here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Human Rubberband

You can expect a full report of our annual beach trip to California just as soon as I finish catching up on laundry, catching up on grocery shopping, catching up on patent drawing projects, catching up on Cub Scout calling stuff, catching up on... oh, who am I kidding? I love blogging way more than those things. You can expect a full report real soon.

We got back from the beach over a week ago but just as soon as I got done vacuuming the sand out of my car, my good friend Carly made a somewhat impromptu trip down to see us. The best way to beat the post-vacation blues? Just have terribly fun house guests come and hang out for a few days. And now I find my camera's memory card filled up with photos of the beach, of Sea World, of Carly and Sadie and cowboys from Trail Dust Town and Sonoran Hot Dogs from El Guero Canelo (wait, I didn't take any pictures of that, but you get the idea) and I need to sit down and make blog sense of it all. And I will real soon, but in the mean time I want to tell you about the Human Rubberband*, a must for any big family gathering.

Photobucket
Clark with his sisters, Jan, Cassie and Joy, playing the Human Rubberband game- players opposite each other run to the other side, passing the other person on the right DEFINITELY NOT THE LEFT and switch and swap and run and fling and collide and concuss. Repeat until someone is flung into the ocean and gobbled up by a shark.

It may just be a giant piece of lyrca, but this thing is seriously fun. I wish I had thought to get some video footage of my nieces and nephews flinging their bodies around and sometimes into each other. I tried it myself and was glad that it wasn't me who collided with someone else (Clark and Sherry? Kylee and Joy? I can't remember who crashed). Check out more photos below and stay tuned for SHAMU, except not Shamu since we went all the way to Sea World and didn't go the Shamu show. Ever since that terrible accident, people don't get in the water with the whales and I've heard the show isn't that cool any more. We skipped it.

Moral of the story- play with Human Rubberbands and not killer whales.


* I love how this thing has an Owner's Manual, hilarious. Tools needed? One human rubberband and 4 healthy individuals.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another trip to Prescott

I've got an hour to kill before we hit the road for our annual Proffitt beach vacation, so here's a quick rundown of our trip to Prescott last week. My dad drove down from Utah, I drove up from Tucson and we all met at Marie's cabin.


Photobucket

We hit up the candy shop where Baba bought some Pop Rocks for the boys.


Photobucket

Booker and Ike tried them for the first time ever. Booker was enthralled. Yes, that would be ice cream all over his face. One of the advantages of hanging out with a pregnant lady is that you get to have gelato for breakfast.


Photobucket

Ike was not so sure.


Photobucket

We hung out at Goldwater lake and fed the ducks.


Photobucket


I hope my dad doesn't mind but I'm attaching an email he sent to the Tueller family, because he had me cracking up:


mail.jpg


"It was a great visit with Marie, Kyle, Margie and the boys. I will attach a couple of Prescott photos. You can see the "chimenea" on Marie and Kyle's back porch. This is the night before we used the chimenea to roast marchmallows for s'mores. Booker took the explanation of the name s'mores very seriously and as a result Margie was up with him all night while he vomited everywhere he could. I relieved her in the morning while she went upstairs to sleep while Booker and I watched Rugrats. He had a few more dramatic retchings and I observed his refusal to accept any bowl or repository positioned under his chin. He pushes it away angrily as an affront to his right to throw up on rug, couch, or pillow. Nobody tell Chris about the pillow part.


Thursday morning we caught the kiddie parade in downtown Prescott. Margie may have caught a photo of us in the parade--I saw an opening and jumped in with Booker and Ike. Booker had acquired a hobby horse "Buckeye" at the thrift store and rode it hard the whole time he was in Prescott. I told him to wave at the crowd as he rode Buckeye in the parade and he took it very seriously, waving both to the left and to the right. At the end both boys got ribbons from the Kiwanis club for their participation. Thanks to Marie and Kyle for the hospitality at their mountain cabin at which I slept soundly each night and saw some of the best starry skies I have seen in years."


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


PhotobucketI


It was another great trip up to Prescott, besides the whole vomiting all over Marie and Kyle's couch/carpet/every-little-crevice-he-could-find part. If the temperatures here in Tucson stay as high as they are, I might have to make it a monthly event.


In the meantime, I'm signing off and headed somewhere cool and breezy. I've been looking forward to this beach trip for months now. The car is one well-packed Tetris piece of work, with just enough room for the boys to sit comfortably. I'm praying for a vomit free road trip.


Oh and this has nothing to do with anything, except that I miss my little brother, Chris who is back in Cairo now. While he was visiting, I took him to a thrift store and he found this sweet Hawaiian shirt. And since I'm feeling homesick for my family, I'll mention that I miss my brother David who is in Japan right now and I especially miss my brother Danny who is somewhere right now. Danny, if you're reading this please give me a call. Come to Tucson and we'll go thrift store shopping.


Photobucket