Friday, August 29, 2008

Week One -- Already Over?!?

Time truly does fly when school is on! How is it already Friday???

It has been an amazing first week considering lots of changes were in store this school year. In fact last week, I woke up almost every night around 2am and couldn't sleep -- thank goodness for the Olympics! I was able to keep up on all the Beijing going-ons! This week, I have slept like a baby! I really think I was stressing out about the coming year. After day two, I realized my boys are super thrilled with school and that God really did listen to me begging him all summer for them to be put with the right teachers!

This is their annual 1st day of school photo. From the looks of it, Connor is getting thoroughly annoyed with this tradition since he has become a cool 7th grader and all!!

Seventh grade brought a new school -- Junior High -- that is the size of a junior college! The school houses 7th and 8th graders and has about 2,500 students! When we were registering, I had flashes of college registration for me! The electives to choose from are amazing at McCullough. He ended up with Spanish and Team Leadership. He also decided to try something new and go out for the football team. This means being at school at 6:30am everyday for practice! Needless to say, "Mama's tired!!" The thing that makes it easier to get up at 5:15 is that Connor LOVES it -- football and school.

Colby started second grade and has two great teachers! I went to orientation last night and it sounds like he will have lots of fun this year. The main dilemma this week is whether mom will let him start riding his bike to school yet. There are several boys from our street that want to start next week. Yikes!! I keep telling Colby that Connor didn't get to start riding until almost the end of second grade! (But, we all know that the second child always gets to do things sooner than the first child, huh, Danette?!?) We'll see how that plays out...

Anyway, I am going to state a fact that I never thought I would ... I am so HAPPY that Monday is a holiday!!! :) Happy Labor Day all!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

How Is Your Hot Chocolate?

I just received this e-mail from a friend. I decided to post it because I get so caught up in the "outward". As I look at things I want to get accomplished once the kids get back in school, each item revolves around redoing, recleaning, redecorating, or rewhatever! I need to spend more time working on the inner me -- making my hot chocolate full and meaningful...

A group of university graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit one of their honored professors, now retired. During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives.

Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of porcelain, glass, and crystal cups with some being rather plain looking while others were expensive and exquisite looking. He then asked them to help themselves to the hot chocolate. When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said:

"Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress."

"The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other's cups. Now consider this:"

"Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have."

"Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us. God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups."

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have."

"Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And enjoy the hot chocolate in your life."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Way To Go, Honey!

I have to give a blogging pat-on-the-back to my husband. You see, it has been AT LEAST six years since he has cleaned out his closet. And, I say six years because we moved into this house six years I can't even be sure he had gotten rid of anything before we moved.

Chris goes "work clothes" shopping once a year MAYBE twice if his black Dockers need replacing! So, the other night he announced it was time to go shopping for him again. I said that was fine; but, first we HAD to clean out his closet. This caught Connor's attention like I have never seen. He got a glint in his eye, got up in Chris's face and started pointing his finger at Chris and said, "OK. This is how it's going to go. Mom is going to make you make two piles. A give-away pile and a keep pile. Then she will take the keep pile and organize it into short-sleeves and long-sleeves and hang them in your closet with all the whites together, all the blues together, and on and on!" I was so proud of my son for knowing my love of organization! Chris quickly nixed the organization by color idea -- he doesn't know what he is missing. It works great for me and both boys!!

Anyhow, we went to Macy's, stocked up on pants, shirts and belts to last another year and headed home. Chris disappeared so I wentlooking for him. I rounded the corner to our bathroom and saw a HUGE pile of clothes thrown out of the closet. I guess he wanted to get in there before I did! He ended up filling three gigantic garbage bags full of clothes to give away. Yeah!! I am very proud of him and hopes he feels less stressed in the mornings when he gets dresses! Ha!Ha!

I just wish he'd let me color-coordinate!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Childhood vs. My Son's Childhood

A little background about me...

I was born and raised in Albuquerque, N. M. I went to a private school from kindergarten through 2nd grade because my birthday is Sept. 25 and was 24 days too late to begin kindergarten. My mom felt I was ready and so I was enrolled in a private, Christian school. By 3rd grade, my parents felt that I should try the public elementary school that was two miles from our house instead of the private one that took about 30 minutes to drive to each morning. We lived in the "South Valley" -- I can truthfully say that Caucasians are the minority in that part of town. I think the only two Caucasians at Adobe Acres Elementary were myself and my teacher, Mrs. Kryloff. By the end of that year, the only things I could do well was shuffle a deck of cards and speak with the thickest Mexican accent anyone has ever heard. "Ee whole la" (spelling?!?) came out of my mouth after just about everything! (Needless to say, I returned to the private school in 4th grade!!) Anyhow, for those of you who don't know a "Cholo" and a "Chola" are slang for a Mexican boy and girl.

Tonight we are sitting at Chick-fil-A and Connor is singing under his breath some song he heard recently -- about Cholos. I have never heard this song and asked him if he even knew what Cholos were. "Oh, yeah. You know, it is one of those BIG violins."

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Few Random Thoughts

As I said in my first blog back from vacation, we took over 900 pictures in 10 days. Aren't digital cameras awesome?...until you get home, upload them and have to work your way through them to get the best! I wouldn't trade ours for anything, though. My mom still has a camera that uses film!! I keep trying to get her to go digital; but, I don't think she ever will. Course we NEVER thought she'd own a computer either and about 3 years ago we got her "hooked up"!!

Anyhow, there were so many beautiful shots I still wanted to share - so here they are:

While walking up the trail to get a closer look at Mt. Rushmore, I heard a mom tell her son that the eyes must be painted on. This next picture shows how the sculptors got the eyes to look so real. No paint here!

Chris and I kept going back and forth over whether this years' trip was one that the boys would enjoy. Would they get bored? Would they be OK with all the drive time? When we told the boys about going to Yellowstone, Colby's first question was, "Are there rides like the ones in DisneyWorld?!?" Uh-Oh!

The second day in Yellowstone was the day we saw so many animals. That night, as Colby looked out of his window...

this was the scene he saw...

All of the sudden, Colby declared, "This has been the best day of my whole life!" So, I, giving Chris and myself an imaginary pat on the back for such a great family trip, asked Colby if this was better than DisneyWorld. Without hesitation and with great emphasis, Colby said, "Oh no!" Alrighty then!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

...The End

I am sad to say I just couldn't bring myself to blog every day! There are just some days that things get busy and there are some days I don't feel like doing anything!!!

Anyway, back to my story...we had one last day to spend in the area and decided since we were so close to the Grand Tetons, we must go see them. We loaded the car with a picnic lunch...

...took the standard picture upon entering the Tetons...

...and wound around the open road to see this...

I have a friend who went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons last summer and she said that we had to go to the Tetons because they were just so different. The Tetons are just a few miles from Yellowstone; but, they have a totally different look -- very rocky and not so many trees as in Yellowstone.

This same friend told me that if we get to the Tetons to take the ferry across Jenny Lake and take the hike up to Inspiration Point. I must have forgotten to tell her of my fear of heights...Inspiration Point was 7,200 up a relatively steep and rocky mountain! There were moments when there was not much earth under me so I would "hug" the rock cliff. I didn't really care if someone else was coming down, I was not moving! Old people and little kids had to go around me!! Chris even held my hand several times because he knew I needed it! It was beautiful and I am glad I did it.

Can't you tell how thrilled I was to be up that high! I actually wanted to get behind that sign that says, 7,200 ft.; but, you will have to cut and paste in your minds!! :)

You can see the ferries shuttling people back and forth across the lake.

Here are my boys sitting back and relaxing on the ferry ride back to lower land!

Being only 25 miles away from Jackson Hole, we decided to drive down for dinner. We had a great bar-b-que dinner and walked back through town, getting the ice cream for dessert, and posing for pictures underneath the elk horn archway! A town I definitely want to go back to!

We drove all day Friday to get to Denver and spent Saturday at Elitch Gardens -- a very fun amusement park. We flew home EARLY Sunday morning and were all glad to be home. We had such a fun vacation. A true family vacation. It is awesome to get away from TV's, phone service, video games, and every other "interruption" that makes up a home. I highly recommend this experience to all!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Days Five and Six

Aren't my titles so original?!?

By this time, we were all moving much SLOWER! We had seen so much and gone so hard that we took a somewhat easier day on day five. We checked out of our cute cabin in Canyon Country and headed towards Old Faithful Inn. We stopped along the way to see a few sights, had lunch at a nice restaurant in southern Yellowstone, tried to fish (which the boys did several times throughout the week -- there may be LOTS of bison in Yellowstone; but, there isn't ONE fish!!) We ended up having a "skipping rocks" contest on the lake and guess who lost! :( We checked into the Old Faithful Inn just in time to get to Old Faithful and watch it erupt. Wow! In fact, that evening we watched it erupt four times!

Here are some pictures of the Inn -- so beautiful!! It was designed in 1904 and is one of the world's largest log buildings. The lobby is seven stories high with a treehouse at the top that had to be closed after an earthquake years ago which made it unstable to be up there.

Day six was spent driving and stopping and searching for moose! It was our goal at the beginning of the trip to find a bear. That one proved easy. Three bears in a matter of two days! So we reassessed our goals and changed it to moose -- never saw one, however!

Black Sand Basin, Biscuit Basin, Fountain Paint Pots, a picnic lunch, Firehole Falls and dinner at the Old Faithful Inn -- another great day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Days Three and Four

I am so thrilled this is day three of straight blogging!! Yeah for me!!!

Anyway, back to my trip (I know you all are waiting with baited breath!)... Day three we woke up in Cody, WY and walked around this cute little town. We found the most amazing store . It had the most unique Christmas decorations and hand-made furniture that I totally would have bought and shipped home if I had a bigger house and had loads of money sitting around! Obviously, I only left with a Christmas tree ornament and a snowman to add to my collection!! We had a yummy lunch at Cassie's then headed on toward Yellowstone.

One thing that Chris had to explain to the boys before we began this trip is that he and I like to stop often to take pictures or explore. We did this when we went to Rocky Mountain National Park when I was pregnant with Colby and then again in England. If we see a dirt road, we're liable to take it. If we see an unusual rock, we're liable to pull over and take a picture of it...hence, Chimney Rock...

We also passed a forest fire before getting into Yellowstone. The firefighters were everywhere trying to save this ski town.

Luckily, my husband has been married to me long enough to know that when there is a sign that explains where we are at or what we are looking at, I need a picture!

Our first "animal sighting" was an elk; but, soon found herds of bison. As the days passed, it was funny to see how people would stop in the middle of the road, pulling off if they could, and then getting out of their cars and within feet of these wild animals to get pictures of them. Now, mind you, we are right there with those people! It was so exciting to see these animals in their natural habitat. Luckily we never saw anyone have a close call with an animal. I joked that if these people were to pass a deer on the side of the road in their hometowns, they wouldn't give it a second look -- kind of like we do when we go down Hwy 242 and deer are on the side of the road!

Our first "geological sighting" were the Mud Volcanos and Upper Falls. It amazed me to see how many different geological things are happening miles from one another in this patch of earth. Just simply amazing!! Even the wildlife likes it!

After dinner, we headed to Hayden's Valley and sat on the side of the road for an hour and a half mesmerized by the herd of bison grazing in the valley. We learned from a local man that bison can actually run 30-40 MPH, outrunning even bears! And, here we all were standing on the road, taking pictures, thinking that we would totally make it to the car if one of them made a funny move! Our goal the rest of the week was to make sure some other person was in between us and the animal -- surely the animal would get them first!! :)

Day four, we began by seeing the biggest 12-point elk ever!

Stopped at Virginia Falls and Norris Geyser Basin, North America's most volatile and oldest continuously active geothermal area. So beautiful, each in their own way.

We came upon Sheepeater Cliff. This is an amazing area where half-million year old hexagonal basalt columns are stacked on each other like huge building blocks. As soon as we exited the van, all three of my boys took off for the rocks and began climbing!

As they reach the top, I hear my boys coaxing me, "Come on, mom!" A little secret about me...I HATE heights! I have had to do things since having boys that I never thought I'd have to do -- like learn about tractors, sit on a baseball bleacher night after night, and not have pretty pink dresses to dress them in! But, heights! Yikes!! So, here I am making my way - SLOWLY - to the top!

It is a good thing voices cannot be heard on pictures. Otherwise, behind my brave-looking smile, you would hear me practicing my ventriloquism skills, screaming, "Take the picture quickly!!"

Of course, my husband has to be a funny guy and pretend he is falling!

We all made it down the cliff safely and were walking out of the forest when we hear a sound and see the cutest elk in Yellowstone!

After lunch, we explored Mammoth Country. Once again, the land is beautiful with different springs and terraces that boast vibrant colors based on which minerals, bacteria or algae has been deposited.

Heading back towards Canyon Country, we found a dirt road! And, guess what!?! We took it and found great wildlife -- a coyote, prongthorn, and a black bear!

That night, we just had to head back to Hayden's Valley to watch the bison again. On the way, we ran into a beaver. We found the bison AND a grizzly bear!! (I'm adding the picture of the grizzly even though it is too dark to really see it!) What an amazing day!