Saturday, June 30, 2012

So long old sofas...

A few months ago I entered our sofas in a contest for new furniture.  We didn't win, but I do have a photograph of the bad shape they were in.  The love seat has had a five dollar Wal-Mart sofa cover on it for a few years, and the green one keeps getting more and more stained.  As of the last few weeks, it started to tear.  When Memorial Day came around, we thought we'd check out some furniture sales, but the only thing that we found was the need to do a lot of shopping and research, which we have been doing.  I thought about giving up a few times; we really don't have extra money, and we've been living with the ratty sofas for a while.  But we seemed to keep coming back to this being something needed for many reasons, so we kept at it.  We narrowed our search down to two sofas--one on-line which we couldn't sit it before purchasing, and one at a nearby store that was fairly inexpensive.   Because of being out of town a few times, we didn't act on anything which turned out to be a good thing.  Yesterday, Kelly went to Costco for some random items, and they had just put out their new sofa sets.  There was one there that had everything we'd been looking for--leather, recliners, not over sized and really good quality for a great price.  After sending me over to check them out, we decided to go for it.  We now have new sofas! Hooray!  

This all happened fairly quickly today, and the girls needed to give our old sofa one last hug.  Our friend, Smith, came over to help Kelly get everything moved in and assembled.  Of course the guys had to sit down immediately and try out the power recliners.  Meanwhile, the girls thought the sofa in the backyard was quite unique, and they took turns between sewing on it and jumping and tumbling on the cushions.  We watched some television on our new furniture tonight and I must say, it's quite comfy.  In fact, I'm going to sign off and go my recliner.  Ahhhhhh.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beach Day

Kelly and Heather returned late last night, and Kelly was back at work early this morning.  Heather needed some good rest time, so she relaxed in front of the television most of the day.  Jenna and Sarah were still in "go" mode, so after a breakfast of homemade chocolate chip pancakes, we headed to Newport for a couple of hours.  Surprisingly, I found a parking spot down the first street we turned, so getting there turned out to be not complicated at all.  We set up a chair and the girls boogie boarded, body surfed, climbed the jetty, played in the sand, had snacks and boogie boarded some more.  They were fully active the entire two hours we were there.  I love making these great memories happen for my girls and their friends.  They grow up too quickly!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Friend Day - Jenna and Sarah

After successfully getting Heather to camp, it was time for Sarah and Jenna to have a girls' day.  We started with brunch at Mimi's (chocolate chip pancakes).  Then it was a switch to swim suits for hours in the back yard and swimming.  We shopped for hot dogs and chili which we barbecued for dinner, and then the girls switched to pajamas for movie, video games and their sleep over.  Fun day for fun girls!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Get that girl to camp!

What a week we're having!!!  After the SYTYCD marathon afternoon and evening, Heather's health took a nose dive.  On Tuesday, she was supposed to leave for camp at 9:30AM, but there was no way she was well enough to go.  We were able to see her doctor in the afternoon and get a prescription for her raging sinus infection, and Heather continued to rest throughout the afternoon and evening.  We decided that we'd get up Wednesday morning, see how she felt, and make plans to go to camp.

Before the girls were up, I showered and dressed, loaded the dishwasher and packed Heather's bag for camp.  We had some breakfast, and I drove over to the pharmacy to pick up the antibiotic that had had to be ordered Tuesday after the doctor.  After filling the car with gas, I went home to assess the situation.  Heather was in relatively good spirits after her shower, so we decided to give it a try.

We headed to Camp Cedar Falls (via A&W for lunch) and arrived just after 3:00PM (with lunch it took us about two hours to get there).  Heather's friends were so happy to see her, and Jenna had fun hanging out for a bit while we waited for traffic to die down.  She wrote a letter to Heather, and I snapped some pictures of Heather in her workshops.  The hub was there, of course, doing his leadership things he does, and it was nice to see him.  The troops are due home soon, and Heather will have to continue to rest up for our Half-Dome hike in a little under two weeks.  For now, we're glad she could have some camp experience for this year and not miss it entirely.

Monday, June 25, 2012

So You Think You Can Dance 2012

Just after concluding that I would never hear from this show again for tickets to their tapings, they changed their format back and started emailing people again.  I was able to get 4 tickets to the show for the season premiere and reveal of the Top 20.  Our regular crew were off camping or in England (yes, England trumps SYTYCD), so Angie and I decided to take Heather and Daisy.  The instructions say that anyone who doesn't "look" 14 will be turned away.  We decided our tall-as-mom daughters could pass.  They were so cute!

So the short story was a great show!  We were sworn to secrecy.  Tune in Wednesday night.  It was a great experience to be there, and the girls had so much fun.  They were on the floor in the side pit, and had a front row view of everything.  The guest judge was Zoey Deschanel from New Girl (and Elf).  We also saw some friends from church who were in our show, and I'm pretty sure we'll see them on t.v. due to their awesome seats.

The long story is...we waited in line a looooooong time.  We arrived at 1:15PM, were escorted to the studio lines at 4:30PM and didn't get inside until closer to 5:30PM.  The taping started after 6PM, and we were released at 8:45PM.  Angie and I were in the seats toward the back and had a great view of the stage, but the girls continued to stand.  Thinking that they were young and most likely okay wasn't really true.  Heather has been fighting off a sinus infection, and the girls are only 12.   They did a great job of being mature, but Heather paid for it.  She felt awful and slept most of the way home.  Now I have guilty mom complex.  I hope when she feels better that this will be a great memory for her.  Maybe by the time the show airs and we can sit and watch together we'll be able to reminisce and have some fun memories.

There are some negative, naggy things we could dwell on about the experience, but I keep reminding myself that we were there! In the studio!  It is ultimately a really awesome experience.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Piano Recital

The girls participated in a successful recital today.  They have a fabulous teacher, and they saw many friends who are also Mrs. Holbrook's students.  These recitals are great learning experiences and although the girls don't really love them, they are learning about the importance of practice and dedication to their craft.  We had a great discussion in the car afterward about what we are allowed to take with us from this life.  We talked about knowledge and our talents going with us and how important it is to work to collect that knowledge so we have much to take with us.  I'm hoping one day my girls will thirst after knowledge and desire to improve their talents.  They have a ton of potential.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jenna's Last Day Fun

Jenna's friend, Sarah, planned a last day of school party for the day after school which turned out to be great for Jenna.  Since Jenna spent the last day of school on the couch, this party was a perfect way for her to celebrate the next day when she was feeling better.  Several friends went to Frog's  Bounce House for a few hours, and then headed over to Soup Plantation.  They had a ton of fun, and Jenna brought her yearbook along to collect the signatures she'd missed at school.  Thanks Sarah!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last Day of School!!!

Jenna spent her last day of school on the couch with a low fever.  Poor girl.  I think we'll be seeing an allergist this summer to make sure we're not overlooking allergy related sinus issues.  Heather went to school for a couple of hours, and then we checked the gang out and headed to Moiola.  We said good-bye to teachers and saw old friends.  Afterward, we headed to Corner Bakery for lunch.  It is so blessedly wonderful not to be worried about what needs to be done tomorrow.  First up on the agenda...sleeping in!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Giggling Girls

We met Sheryl and Angie and their daughters tonight over at Johnny Rockets so that we could get some information from Angie about touring the California Gold Rush country.  I'm not sure which table giggled more during our meeting?  While waiting for the moms, the girls went out into the courtyard area and had lots of fun being silly.  As Heather and I left, we saw a sign posted with rules.  We giggled at the "oops" they'd probably made with rule number one, but they are good girls and there was no one around to bother.  If you can't giggle and be silly, what's the point, right?  Giggle on!


On Tuesday morning, we planned to pick Heather up from school around 9:00AM because nothing much was going on.  I was running a little late, and it was a good thing!  In a 7th grade assembly that morning, Heather was honored with two awards.  The first was for "Excellence in History" presented by her awesome History teacher, and the second was for "Overall Effort" presented by the Principal and Assistant Principal.  Heather was shocked!  Heather doesn't receive achievement awards...ever.  This was a complete surprise to her, and I think she is still recovering from the surprise.

One might think that I am understandably bragging--I'm her mom, right?  It's hard to explain that my wanting to stand on the roof top and shout this news out loud does not stem from parental pride.  I am, of course, very proud of Heather, but more than that, I want to explain to everyone how marvelous and miraculous these awards are.  In sixth grade (or any time before that) the thought of Heather ever being recognized academically was ludicrous (you've heard me lament about what skills are valued in public education).  I want to shout praises for a school filled with teachers who recognize effort and achievement that isn't always rooted in perfect test scores and exceptional academic skill.  Heather's grades are actually pretty good (3.75 GPA), but she has been recognized this year for her creativity, insight and effort.  She has been encouraged and praised and has felt valued by her teachers.  This girl needed a year like this, and I realize I've been waiting for this year to show up for a really long time!  I am so, so happy for Heather that I can't stop smiling.  She is so wonderful--we have always known that.  I am so glad that she is, for the first time, beginning to believe that she might just have some chops.

Go Heather!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Choosing Modesty

Isn't bathing suit shopping fun?  Not.  I dread it due to my white skin and extra size, and I've come to dread it a little bit with my girls.  They look fabulous in bathing suits, don't get me wrong.  It's finding one that doesn't try to look like a future Victoria's Secret model (which to me is a ridiculous concept at age 10 or 12--no offense to anyone who doesn't agree).  Poor Heather had an awful time this year, finally found something, and had it nearly fall off in the pool.  She's in the weird in-between-kids-and-adult-sizes stage.  We ended up on the Justice For Girls website and got her a one piece that was not too cutsie, and something she felt totally comfortable in.  Jenna loves any fashion, but she is committed to modesty.  We found this darling two-piece tankini that was long enough to cover her stomach.  She was so excited to find a tankini that wasn't backless or bikini-like.  She squealed with delight when she found this, and she happily posed for a picture when she wore it for the first time.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

We had a relatively quiet and relaxing Father's Day.  My dad drove down Saturday to spend Father's Day with us and we started the day with a special breakfast.  I walked to the kitchen to start cooking and found Heather there ready to make special eggs for her dad.  Our breakfast menu included:

Garlic scrambled eggs with Cajun turkey and cilantro salsa
Eggs over easy with grits
Orange juice

We had a nice afternoon at church and returned for dinner.  Jenna had helped me make the fudge brownies earlier in the morning, so dessert was all ready.  While Grandpa and Daddy watched some golf on t.v., I prepared dinner.  The girls set the table, and we enjoyed a yummy dinner.  Dinner menu:

New York steak
Baked potatoes
Corn on the cob
Fresh bread
Black olives/green olives/dill pickles
Raspberry lemonade, orange peach mango juice or root beer

After dinner we opened presents and had our fudge brownies topped with ice cream and hot fudge.  It was a great day for yummy food and visiting.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hot N Juicy Crawfish

On Saturday evening we met my friend, Sarah, and her cute family at a cajun restaurant in Northeastern Fountain Valley called, "Hot N Juicy Crawfish."  Not a place we would normally venture to because of our children's aversion to seafood, so it was a good adventure for us.  We ordered a pound of crawfish, a pound of shrimp (both special spicy sauce), some chicken nuggets for the girls, and a shrimp basket for me.  Everything was good, but boy was it messy for Dad and Kelly!  And a lot of work. Heather was not amused by seeing the entire critter, eyeballs and all, staring at her, nor her dad's antics with the crawfish.  Overall, we had fun hanging with each other while having this new experience.  Thanks for inviting us Sarah!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Talent Show!

Friday was Moiola's last talent show.  Jenna and Sarah decided they wanted to reprise the Ghostbusters number from our church show.  They danced it very well, and the crowd was impressed with their costumes, makeup and preparation.  Well done girls!  

The kids were all given a free shirt commemorating Moiola's last year.  The front has the 40 year date range that the school has been operating.  The back has the names of every child who attended during this last year.  The staff and students are trying to remain positive, but it is hard.  The taste is still bitter over the closing.  I don't know if that will ever go away.  I'm sure some in the community think that we are a little over-the-top about our feelings on the school closure process, but let them say what they will.  Closing a school is never good for a community.  We sincerely hope that some new blood will be installed this fall and that some great changes can be wrought in the handling of the district budget so that this doesn't have to happen again in our district.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


One regular school day and four half-days left.  It can't come soon enough.  The closing of our elementary school has been traumatic, and the environment has been different.  We're excited to move on and look ahead to some alternative educational options for fifth grade.  Middle school has been hard work this year, and just before the end I find myself needing to learn how to factor trinomials.  When I log off here, I have to go remember how to solve quadratic equations.  Why? Because my middle schooler is overwhelmed, done and missing instruction that here teacher is trying to give these last days of school.

Summer, summer.  Where art thou summer?

Until next week, I'll keep some of that good medicine on hand that makes everything better.  But not too much.  I'm trying to cut back.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peak Performance - Hike #2

We've just returned from a two-day backpacking trip that was the second in our training hikes for Half-dome.  Our goal was to do a long enough hike to simulate the hike from Happy Isles to Little Yosemite camp ground (approx. 7mi).  Here is our weekend recap...

Day 1 - We arrived at the Mission Springs trail head around 3PM, parked our car, and hiked about 2 miles into Fish Creek to set up camp.  The hike in was a little difficult.  We were at an elevation of approximately 7,000 - 8,000 feet carrying in the things we would need for two days.  The girls were tired from school and got hungry pretty quickly.  The terrain consisted of dirt and rocks, and much of the hike was up hill.  Once we arrived and set up camp, we had dinner, and everyone's mood was a little lighter.  We didn't know what was coming the next day!

Day 2 -  Day two was beautiful.  We could see the moon, and the girls were amazed at the blue sky.  I had had a headache all night which was at migraine status by morning, but thank goodness for migraine meds!  The headache was gone by the time we left camp.

This day's hike was supposed to be 5 miles to San Gorgonio Peak from Fish Creek (10 miles round trip).  Kelly knew it would be tough, but I don't think I quite wrapped my brain around it.  Kelly carried all the water and snacks (eternal thanks be to Kelly), so all the girls and I had to do was endure.  We figured if we hiked half-hour miles, we'd be to the peak in three hours.   Let's pause here to have a chuckle...

A half-hour mile is what an uber in-shape backpacker hikes, one who is around 20 years old and does this kind of thing a lot.  I am in my 40's and about sixty pounds over weight.  We also had a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old in tow.  Let's not forget that we're also hiking from 8,000 - 11,000 feet.  Oxygen is a necessary item for this kind of work out, let me tell you.  I really had a good attitude about the hike until about five hours into the three-hour hike.  Up was the word of the day.  We hiked up, and up and up.  The terrain was rocky and unstable and a heck of a lot of work.  As I said, I had a great attitude until we reached Mine Shaft Saddle, the beginning of the Peak trail.  Then I began to worry.  Did we bring enough food to be gone all day?  What about water?  We'd packed a lot, but this trip was taking a while!  A ligament in my left leg (the one that assists in picking your foot up and moving it forward) was hurting.  Kelly was having issues with one of his feet due to the pressure of the pack (although he is still super stud because it wasn't stopping him).  The girls were getting tired and headachy, and it was getting harder to breathe.  
 A view of the trail from our first mile or so

 The scenery

 Mine Shaft Saddle

Although we were all feeling fatigued, we knew we were close.  How could we have hiked this far and not be close??  We started the trail up to the peak and felt positive we were getting there.  Then we ran into the first hiker that said, "It's about 3 miles up."  What??  The next hiker we saw after about 30 more minutes of hiking said, "It's about 3 miles up."  By that time, I was discouraged.  I was also beginning to worry that we'd already been hiking for 6 hours.  We would be hiking back in the dark!

 If you click on this picture from the blog site, you'll see three tiny little people-like things in the middle of the picture.  Those are myself and the girls hiking the Peak trail.  

 A very sad, but cool thing we saw on the trail was the wreckage of a plan that went down in a severe snow storm in 1952.  To the right of us is the wreckage. Click on the picture to read (from blog site).

After we had hiked about 4 of what was said to be 8 of the switch backs to the peak, we sat down and had a family meeting.  What was our goal?  Was it to reach San Gorgonio Peak or was it to train for our  Half-dome hike?  We determined that we had exceeded our goal which was to train for the hike to Half-dome.  We had limited food, water and light, and we worried about making it back to camp before it was really late.  At 2:59PM, after s i x hours of hiking, we took the picture below with the peak in sight.  Jenna was crying because she'd wanted to make it.  Kelly and I felt good about the decision, and even Heather, our Energizer Bunny, said it was time to call it.

We were pretty sure we had exceeded the 5 miles that Kelly thought the hike was (he later told me he found one site that said 5-6 mi and one that said 10mi. one way), so we set a mile calculator on the way back.  We really booked on the way back because #1 down is easier, and #2 mom was torqued and walks faster when torqued.  I felt like I'd been deceived!  How could this be only 5 miles??  Well, it wasn't.  Our app calculated that we had hiked a little over 6 miles making our round trip total 12 miles!  We found out from another hiker that the peak would have been another 2.5 miles from where we'd stopped, making the hike to the peak closer to the 10 mile estimate Kelly had read about.  I would never consented to hiking 20 miles in one day.  Can you imagine??  A couple of hikers commented on our party which contained the ONLY children we saw on this trail.  I see why now.  This isn't your everyday happy hike.  It is hard work!

Our return time was 4 hours.  Kelly and I had blisters and we were all dehydrated.  We drank water, cooked dinner and went to bed.  We slept great primarily due to exhaustion.

Day 3 -  Our girls were troopers.  Did I mention they hadn't complained at all on the super hike? They woke up on day 3 with energy and spunk for the hike out.  Oh yeah, we had to backpack our stuff out two more miles today.  My body rebelled every step of the way.  Luckily, we knew we could do two miles after our 12 mile adventure.  The girls did some archeological digging while we finished up our last-minitue prep.  Then it was up and out.  I have to pause here to mention my husband who just may be a demi-god.  He is strong and very camperly (is that a word?).  It is a great feeling to know that the dude you're with can handle anything -- honey, I hope you read this far because I'm telling the world that you're amazing! We were never so happy to see our truck!  I am secretly hoping that Half-dome is a little less grueling, but even if it isn't, we're prepared!