Friday, October 30, 2009

more than a physical journey

We watched some of the Ken Burns episodes about our National Parks. The show apparently had the producer's desired effect on Greg, because he told me he wanted to go on a photo safari. He loves to practice with his camera and our backyard is becoming too familiar for his photo explorations.

He did some research and decided where he wanted to go. Then he sat me down on the couch and told me that I was going to have to step out of my comfort zone to do a little hiking. He wanted to go to the Narrows and hike in the river. I'm certain at that point I turned a ghostly white. My armpits started burning and my heart was racing.

Eight years ago I was teaching 4th grade and one of my favorite students died in a flash flood in the same park were we were headed. He was swept away. His brother managed to hang onto a branch and save himself. Michael was so sweet and smart. This was the first and only time I had ever had to deal with death as a teacher.

I gulped a very big gulp, pulled up my big-girl panties and said ok to the hike.

We planned carefully what we would take for our one-night camping adventure. Then we packed our gear and silly selves into the car like sardines. I had about two inches that I could move my legs. When I was restless and needed to move them, I shifted them about two inches. Not a whole lot of traveling relief.

Fall is a lovely time to visit a National Park. The leaves were just starting their color changes.

We donned our brand new water hiking shoes. Being the end of the season, we were able to find my shoes and the kids' shoes on clearance.

There was a one-mile hike on a groomed trail before we came to the spot where you either turn back around and head down or get in the river bed. After a few deep breaths and some praying I was the last one to put my piggies in the water. The kids were quite excited about the water and wanted to be in it right away.

Those first few steps were f.r.e.e.z.i.n.g! Thankfully it was a warm day. We had coats on to keep our top halves plenty warm at the advice of the nice lady at the outfitters place.

When we go hiking (or walking anywhere for that matter) I am always slower than Greg. I am a slow hiker. Let's face it, I've got a lot of extra weight on me & it takes me a little longer to lumber along in life. Heather always hangs back with me. Although I try really hard not to let the kids know that I am freaked out about something like this (or the dang ocean!) she can usually figure it out. She fears for my safety.

Just before we reached the point where the water was just about up to my waist, we stopped and Greg went ahead a little bit to scope some things out. He came back and said that the deep part only last a tiny bit and that was the deepest part for quite a ways. He talked to some other hikers on their way back. He reported, however, that the rocks were pretty slick at some parts. I was again faced with another decision. I thought that making the decision to participate in the first place was the hard one. The decision to turn around or go on turned out to be harder.

One problem we had is that we didn't have walking sticks. Some stuff I read online lead me to believe we could get them either at point A or point B. When we passed point A before we entered the park we didn't worry because we could still get them at point B. Where was point B? We never found it. So no walking sticks for us.

The kids did not want to venture into the deeper water. They were going to go with Suzanne and Dustin. So, really it was just up to me whether Greg and I continued on. On one hand I was scared to death. On the other hand I was determined because I had already decided to do this, we bought the shoes, we drove all this way. How could we turn back now?

I looked at the sky as I pondered my decision. Not a cloud in the sky. Not even a little puff. It seemed at that point that there was no choice. My determination to see this through overtook my fear.

So the kids turned back with Suzanne and Dustin and we waded waist-deep. The canyon was beautiful before this point, but it was even more breathtaking after we turned the corner out of the deeper water.

The further we traveled in, the more we were in awe. I was in awe of the scenery and of myself. I had over come a huge fear and stepped into the water to let it go. I have a great fear of leaving my children parentless ~ as I'm sure all parents do. I trusted God to take care of us.

And I trusted Greg. I know he would never lead me into a situation I couldn't handle.

At some points the rocks were slippery. We just took extra care and used the sides of the canyon when we could. A word to the wise, green rocks are ultra slippery. Avoid.

Greg stopped frequently along the way to take pictures. It's a good thing we stopped as much as we did because I might have missed some of the beauty while staring at my feet and the rocks I was about to maneuver.

Like I said, it was a warm day. Maybe in the 80s. In the shade it was cooler. There were some sunny spots that were quite warm. I zipped and unzipped my jacket along the way.

After a while, the water didn't seem so cold either.

It was not all water-walking. There were some dry areas. You can just see the river right behind the boulder with the people on it.

We didn't go as far as we might have liked, but we needed to get back to the kids by a certain time. It's a good thing we turned back when we did because toward the end of the water part, our ankles were feeling a little like jello.

This wasn't a huffing and puffing kind of hike. The cardio was on the low meter for this one. But we worked out those leg muscles balancing, trekking over slippery rocks, and holding ourselves against the current at some points. When we reached the end of the water portion and climbed the stone steps to get to the groomed area, I could have sworn my legs had been replaced by noodles.

But then on a I-can't-believe-I-did-it high I booked it the last mile to get to the tram.

We saw a few of these friends along the way.

At the end of the evening we sat by the fire. Happy. Content. The kids had fun. We had fun. I did something I didn't think I would ever do. I will actually go back again ~ on a cloudless day ~ with a walking stick.

When I got to school on Monday I was telling my principal and some of the office ladies about my adventure. A teacher told me the Narrows scare her because a friend of her son's died in a flash flood in the Narrows. She looked at me and said maybe I knew him because they went to the school where I taught at the time. I told her I did know him, he was my student. I told her I knew how he died and where, but somehow never knew he was actually IN the Narrows. A shiver went down my spine.

I'll still go back.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

27 down ~ 5 to go

In this post in January, I told you how I was a total overachiever and surpassed by 2008 reading goal. My goal was 24 books & I read 27. I also told you that I allowed my students to help me set my reading goal for 2009. Somehow I let short people commit me to a goal of 32 books for this year.

I just finished another one ~ The Time Traveler's Wife. Very good book. I totally fell of the book wagon with this one. I gave in to my impatience and bought it at Target instead of reserving it at the library. If you want to borrow it, let me know.

Now I'm at 27 books for 2009.

5 more to go.

The downfall to achieving a goal like this? You know for 2010 I'll have to up the ante.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

sale! sale! sale!

In case you've been living under a rock ~ or in sheer denial ~ you are well aware that Christmas will be here before you are ready. The kids and I went to Target yesterday and in the aisle right next to the Halloween stuff were a few aisle of Christmas stuff already set up! Wow!

So in the spirit of totally jumping the gun, I'm having a sale. That's right. For Christmas.

What do you get that hard-to-buy-for person in your life?? I've got the perfect answer ~ a tassel. It's true they serve no functional purpose.

But really, where's the fun in that? They are made to merely be beautiful.

Hang them anywhere. On a knob. On a lamp light switch. From a hook on a cabinet. On the corner of a picture frame.

From now until December 15th, I am offering a 10% discount to all of my readers on all tassels in the my Etsy Shop. Just enter the code TASSEL10 in the comments when you purchase one of these lovlies and I will refund the 10% back to you.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

halloween sneak peak

Last year, I was finishing the last seams on Heather's Halloween costume with tears streaming down my face as the sun went down. That seems like just yesterday. The stress of it all is just so fresh.

This year, I declared a costume strike. With guilt in my heart, I told the kids I was not sewing any costumes this year. We'd just have to buy them. I almost took back the strike about a hundred times. Each time I almost uttered the words, "Ok, I'll make you something" the horror of the last minute last year slapped me silly. I need one more year to recuperate from that trauma.

Yesterday was the craft fair at Greg's grandma's community center. My goal was to get rich make enough for Halloween costumes and Christmas shopping. So, Halloween costumes it is!

We went to the overpriced Halloween store today to find this year's masquerade. Except that they didn't have what Heather really wanted, these costumes were virtually stress free. I made big promises in the middle of that store that next year I'd make her whatever she wants.

Here's a little peak.

Trick or Treat!

Monday, October 19, 2009

camping - but not in the backyard

The last two weekends we spent sleeping in the tent were not just for the heck of it. We were doing a little *field* research for our real camp adventure we had planned for this past weekend. The last time we went camping, we froze our tushies off. We needed to know which bedding was the most effective, yet wouldn't take up much room. It was important that we not freeze this time or I'd have to shred the tent.

Here we are at the beginning of the adventure. All bright and shiny.

Suzanne, Dustin, and Aiden joined us for part of our adventure. They came with us for a little light hiking, but no tent sleeping. Chickens!

Dustin misread the brochure and thought he was making his daddy-with-baby supermodel debut.

See that water behind us? Yes, that's where we were headed. Let me tell you this took courage and took me far outside my comfort zone.

There was a fair amount of rock holding.

And a lot of concentrating at times.

Notice the absence of the kids at this point. They went with Suzanne and Dustin after the last family picture. I'll tell you about that a little later. This post is just the prelude to the big story. And the scenery is much better than me walking across the river. I have to wade through Greg's pictures to pick some really great ones. He took a million and a half. Which was another point to this whole adventure.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Yesterday I was helping Stephanie think through a math word problem. The question at the end of the problem was a little vague with the intention of making the student think a little. The problem talked about bags of coffee. Twelve bags can fit in a small box. Fifty bags can fit in a large box. So-n-So has 10 small boxes of coffee & wants to move it into big boxes. Basically the question asked what combination of boxes he'd need.

Stephanie: (huffy and very serious) Why doesn't he just leave it in the small boxes?!

Me: Well, then there wouldn't be a math problem, now would there?

When I told Greg he nodded his head in whole-hearted agreement with Stephanie. I told him that I knew he'd feel the same way because she sounded just like him when she said it!

Apparently Stephanie needs a little more back-story about why moving the bags of coffee is necessary in the first place for this to warrant her energy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

mine, all mine

I got a little bit pissy Saturday after the craft sale and decided to make something for myself.

I don't make too many things for just myself. My kids will tell you that I don't make enough for them either, but they lie. So I worked on this shopping bag. I have reusable grocery bags and my beloved reusable Target bags, but I thought I needed something a little more lovely for other shopping times.

Maybe I will just use it when I am carting miscellaneous stuff to and from school ~ like when I need to take apples, a knife, and a cutting board to school so the kids can have an apple tasting and decide which variety they like best. (Hands down it's Granny Smith every year, by the way.)

Whatever I decide to use it for it's mine, all mine. I used the pattern for the Jane Market Bag by Alicia Paulson. My version has a few forced modifications because the lady at my favorite quilt store cut my half yard at 16" instead of 18" and I didn't realize it until it was too late to turn it around the other way. So my bag is two inches shorter than it should be. Plus I decided not to cut into that fourth fabric for the straps, so I used what I had left over from the brown flowers. My straps are shorter than they are supposed to be. But hey, I can improvise with only a little grumbling on my part.

See how roomy inside?

I love this fabric. It's so modern, but so retro at the same time. The owl fabric that I bought with these didn't make it into the bag. Hmm...maybe I'll have to make another.

Monday, October 12, 2009

in her haste

Saturday night the kids and their friend were playing in the tent. They were drawing and whispering. It came to light they were conspiring to make ghosts & bats & such that would drop down on us in the middle of the night to scare us.

Scare us?

We'll see about that.

Greg picked out a song with some particularly spooky sound effects ~ screaming and the like. He played it on the backyard speakers. Within seconds the girls came running and screaming into the house.

And we played dumb. What? What's going on? What's the matter?

I know. It borders on mean. But oh, so fun.

Apparently, Zhoe misjudged the height of the zipper in her frightened scurry and left a little of herself behind. Ouch!

They declared they were not stepping foot back in the tent. We fessed up. We all still slept in the tent.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

minus one, plus one

Today Stephanie lost another tooth. Really? Another one? When she declared its looseness and wiggled it relentlessly to gross us out the other night, Greg told her she cannot leave it for the tooth fairy because it has a silver cap on it. The tooth fairy has no use for decayed teeth. He looked at me and said, "Isn't that right, Mommy?"

I was stumped.


I don't know the protocol on this one. I told them that I didn't know because I didn't (and still don't) have cavities. I got full value out of all my pearly whites. Greg told me to shut up. Stephanie called me a goody-two-shoes.

She was very ok with the logic of the useless decayed tooth. We told her we'd like to keep it. She agreed.

She lost it at the craft show today. I kept it in my pocket all day. It's mine now.

The craft show was ok. That's it. Just ok.

I made enough to cover the cost of the booth rental, the snacks for the day, and a little extra. Hmph. This craft show was a combination craft sale & yard sale at school. The booth fees and silent auction money (each vendor donates an item to the silent auction) goes to the literacy department at the school. I guess people were more interested in the twenty-five cent deal than my high-priced craftiness. The same thing happened in the spring. Kinda discouraging.

To top it all off, it was hot. And now I have a sun headache.

We came home with an extra kid. One of Stephanie's friends from school is staying the night. Because we are totally cool parents, we set up the tent again.

I know. We are courageous to endure the backyard wilderness again. Follow me ~ I know where the clean potties are.

Friday, October 9, 2009

it's been rough

This week school has been rough for me.

I don't feel like I'm doing what I need to do. We are behind on things we need to get to. I can't tell whether the students are listening to me or not because they certainly won't participate in a class discussion.

They are not following directions on assignments even when they are written right there AND I tell them plenty of times. On the math test when it says to draw a picture of the problem ~ draw a dang picture!

They acted like hooligans in library yesterday for the third week in a row and earned a whole-class lunch recess detention from me. I'm so sweet like that.

And the thing is these are not naughty children generally. They are a pretty well-behaved class. I'm just not feeling effective. I feeling like such a failure that I almost marched myself down to Mary's office yesterday and told her that I needed to go home and may not be back. Luckily reason won over in my crazy brain and I did not. I gave myself a *teacher time out* instead.

I told Greg that maybe I need to be more organized, more prepared. Maybe I need to clean my desk at school. He said I am plenty organized and prepared for teaching. He said I need to be inspired.

And then to top this all off, Stephanie and Heather got themselves into a good deal of trouble yesterday. I had to give them a very yucky punishment. One that may actually punish me more than them. Although I did add that if they annoy me during the punishment period I'd make it longer. (What was I thinking?)

I'm hoping today is better.

I'm hoping next week is better.

Off I go to practice my mean face for detention today...although we all know I don't need much practice with that!

somebody else is giving something else away again

I have another giveaway to share with you. This time you don't have to be a crafter or sew to be interested in this giveaway because it's custom gift tags.

Little Bit Funky is sponsoring this cute giveaway. Head on over and enter to win.

Monday, October 5, 2009

raised properly

Yesterday, Heather and I spent some quality time at the nearest quick care. In the waiting room there was a girl about 3 years old. Oh! She was naughty. She wouldn't mind her mom at all. She kept repeating, "I want to draw" over and over even though her mom told her it wasn't possible. She ran from her mom, bugged other people waiting, and climbed onto the desk to get the receptionist's personal candy. The mom kept calling her "baby girl" in an effort to get her attention. A couple of times she used her name ~ Ecstasy. (I guess they felt the need to commemorate the conception with this name!)

When we finally made it to the exam room, Heather and I were talking about that girl. I asked Heather if she was going to ever act like that. To which she responded, "No, because you raised me properly."

That moment alone made the half hour wait for the nurse to come back after the exam so we could leave bearable.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

backyard campsite

We decided to get out the tent ~ air it out ~ and have a little backyard camp out last night. The last time this tent has seen the light of day was when Stephanie was about a year and a half old. We had a little bit of a bad experience that time. The tent has been banished to the upper reaches of the garage ever since.

When we set it up we only had two extra pieces that we didn't know what to do with. Hmm. Where are those instructions? Maybe those pieces were optional.

We had hamburgers, sweet potato fries, and pork-n-beans for dinner ~ but not inside the tent. Very campy. Greg made fun of me for making *mom burgers.* Do you know what those are?

When we were ready to tent up for the night we really roughed it. Greg and I read by the glow of the backyard floodlights while the kids watched a movie on their portable DVD player.

I know.

Just call us Daniel Boone.

Someone in the near vicinity was having a fiesta. And quite a fiesta they were having too because the mariachi music floated on the wind to our back yard. We didn't mind so much at 10 when we were still reading & movie watching. We even didn't mind when it seemed like they were playing the same song over and over and over again. The same song, except when they let the lady sing who sang like the cat being stepped on. Even after lights out, we figured they'd stop at 11. There are ordinances, you know.

12 o'clock ~ still rockin'.

1 o'clock ~ still rockin'.

Apparently at some point after that ~ and maybe some in between ~ I fell asleep.

Of course, falling asleep was made even tougher by the wind howling. A couple of times I thought be might be joining Dorothy in Oz. When I shuffled inside in the middle of the night to use the awesome facilities I was tempted to camp out in my own bed.

Morning came and we were all in one piece. We managed to hold the tent down and get a little sleep. See? We didn't need those pieces after all.

The kids? I think they slept like rocks. And when we weren't off spending $50 at the quick care today because we thought Heather had strep throat, the kids played in the tent all day. Heather, thankfully, does not have strep throat.

Greg told the kids he'd set up the tent again next weekend.

Welcome to Camp Robinson.