Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Waterfall Canyon

On Friday night, we took a family hike to Waterfall Canyon. It is about 3 miles round trip, which isn't bad at all. However, the elevation changes over 1500 feet over the 1.5 miles each way. That means it's quite a steep hike. The even tougher part for me was that it was over 100 degrees when we started out. J carried S in a backpack, and I carried Z.

The big kids were excited to go on the hike too.

After a half mile or so, S decided she wanted to walk, and not ride. Actually, she decided that from the very beginning, but that's when we gave in and let her walk. She was so tough, and ended up climbing almost the rest of the way up. The last 50 yards or so were quite treacherous- steep and over large rocks, so I carried her that last bit. She was so proud of herself. The other climbers we encountered on the trail were really impressed that our kids were able to do the hike.

We found wild raspberries along the way on the way up.

Going back down was much more pleasant, and the temperature had dropped quite a bit (well, to the high 80s). Poor K ended up getting attacked by bees and ended up getting stung 3 times on the leg. She was really tough though, and managed to get down the trail.

I am making it a family goal to go on a similar hike at least once a week. I think it would be really good for us.

Celebrating the Ordinary

This morning, I was reading my Realtor Magazine. One of the features was "30 under 30". They were spotlighting realtors who had accomplished a lot of career ladder climbing and were under the age of 30. There were people who were in their mid twenties, yet principal broker of a fairly successful company. There were agents who were selling over 600 properties a year. I will say that they had some really impressive accomplishments.

Part of me was a little jealous. I originally got my real estate license at 19, and I know that if I had wanted to, I could have been one of those 30 under 30. A few years ago, of course!

Instead, I chose a different path. I chose to become a mother. While there are mothers who are occasionally spotlighted as extraordinary mothers, they usually are doing superhuman feats, such as adopting 20 special needs children. I haven't seen anyone get a medal, or a spotlight in a magazine because they stayed up all night with a vomiting child, changing the sheets on their bed 4 times before sunrise. Even when she manages to be somewhat civil to those around her the next day, even though she would like to rip out their tongue and stuff it up their nose, she doesn't get an award. To me, that was a lot tougher than closing on a deal with a difficult client.

I guess we do get Mother's Day. And we get cute drawings of ourselves from our kids. We get sticky kisses, and chocolaty handprints on our pants.

So, I guess it is fair. I'd rather have a sticky kiss from a small person who thinks I am the greatest, most beautiful woman who ever lived than my picture in a magazine any day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch

I am sad to report that Randy Pausch died today. If you aren't already familiar with him, Randy was a college professor who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. It quickly became obvious that it was a fatal case. He was asked to give a "Last Lecture". His last lecture was such a big hit that he became an almost instant celebrity. I'm sure that he appeared on many shows, but my first brush with him was on Oprah.

He was a truly inspirational, great man. He wrote a book entitled "The Last Lecture". My mother let me borrow her copy, and I cried all the way through it.

I felt so terrible for the hand that was dealt him, and almost worse for his wife and children. On the other hand, he did have a good point- he at least was given warning that he was going to die, and he was able to prepare. His wife was able to prepare. He was able to leave a bit of a legacy to his kids, so they would get a pretty good feel for what their daddy was like. Cancer is an excruciatingly painful way to go, but at least you get the chance to say good-bye and have last requests carried out. Someone hit by a drunk driver doesn't get that chance. It's hard to say which way is the better way to go. Part of me doesn't want to suffer, or to make loved ones endure watching me in pain, but I would also like to be able to say good-bye.

I guess the only way to really make sure you're ok is to live like you were dying. (sorry Tim McGraw). I mean, you have to do that within reasonable bounds. If I had a month to live, I think I'd quit my job, and I wouldn't worry much about going to the gym or eating healthy. (House cleaning- Hmmmm. I hate cleaning the house with a white hot passion, but I wouldn't want to make my family have to clean through a month of grime. I'll get back to you on what I would do on the housekeeping. Maybe I'd hire a cleaning service.... )

This is obviously not a healthy way to live life. But I think it's important to make sure that you are in a good, peaceful place with relationships. Don't leave someone with harsh words. Try to resolve conflicts. I don't have to let people walk all over me, or allow toxic people in my life, but make sure that if something did happen to me, I would be happy with what people would have as their last memory of me.

Rest in Peace Randy. May God be with your family so that they can feel His love and comfort during this difficult time. You truly were an inspiration to millions, and I think you probably dramatically changed more than a few lives.


My neighbor and good friend Margaret has two large apricot trees that have a ton of ripe fruit on them. She has given me a lot of apricots to do what I want with them.

So, last night, I got to work.

I washed and pitted the apricots, then cut a whole bunch in half to simply dry. I coated the halves in a solution that is supposed to prevent browning. I placed them in the fruit dehydrator that I have stolen from my parents, and let it do it's magic. They look innocent enough here, don't they? Kind of pretty even.

Then I made apricot fruit leather. I got the recipe from this website. It calls for 2 cups of blended apricots, 1 tbls. lemon juice, and 2 tbl. of honey. Basically, you just blend it all together, and pour it onto the dehydrator tray that you've lined with parchment paper. For more precise instructions, go to her website. That recipe made two trays of fruit leather.
Fast forward to this morning. The fruit leather looks great, and is inhaled by the family almost immediately.

I begin working on apricot jam. My dad absolutely adores apricot jam, so I love to get him a few jars of it.

The jam turned out really beautifully. I was a little concerned because the instructions say that it can take up to two weeks to set, but it seems to be almost perfectly set, and it's only a couple hours out.

I take a peek at the drying apricots.

Hmmmm. I won't say what my first thought was. I will be quick to assure everyone that I did not go on a mutilating spree last night, and the body parts of all males in my acquaintance are still attached to their bodies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Funniest Blog Ever!!!

I found THIS blog today. I have been crying I'm laughing so hard. Seriously, what are some people thinking?!

It reminds me of the one and only nightmare I had when I was planning my wedding. A few weeks before my own wedding, I went to another wedding. The family was so excited and proud because the bride had made her own wedding cake. They bragged about it to anyone who would listen. Her cake belonged on that blog, in my personal opinion.

That night, I had a nightmare. It was my wedding reception. The people delivering the cake were late. When they delivered the cake, it was awful. It was a rectangle sheet cake with a heart shaped cake over the top. It was all covered in a hot pink fondant, and a yellowish-creamy colored icing to edge it. It then said, "Happy Wedding Jim and Wendy" and then the wrong date. I woke in a cold sweat. I suppose as far as pre-wedding nightmares go, that's pretty tame. Nevertheless, I was very relieved when my absolutely gorgeous wedding cake was delivered.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Treasure Hunt!

For a long time, I promised the kids that I'd do a treasure hunt for them. I decided K's birthday party was the perfect time to actually do it. So, one of the highlights of the party was a treasure hunt that I put together on the sly.

Here was the letter that began everything:

I decided to have S be the messenger.
(for those of you paying attention, yes, S is wearing her shorts AND her shirt backwards)
The kids were so excited to go on the hunt, and they had an absolute blast.
For the treasure, I simply found chocolate that was wrapped in gold wrappers. I got some peanut butter bon bons, miniature size Snickers, and miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I think it looked pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday K!

I became a mother for the first time ten years ago yesterday. I was so huge and miserable at the end that I cried myself to sleep the last couple of nights because I was ready to die I felt so awful. I was almost as big around as I was tall.

My water broke at 5am, and she was born at 5pm on the dot with the help of forceps. 8 lbs 13 oz. HUGE baby! It was a very difficult delivery and she was having trouble breathing when she was born. I was hemorrhaging blood and was having trouble staying conscious.
She ended up staying in the NICU for 5 days. Nursing in the beginning was very difficult, but with a lot of help and support from the nurses and lactation consultants, I was able to breastfeed her for 13 months.

She has been such a good child. She is very even tempered and never once threw a temper tantrum. She very quietly got into trouble. Like the time when she was about 20 months old and drank lamp oil because she thought it was punch. J was asleep on the couch, and I'd taken M upstairs to change his diaper.

Then there was the time when she was 5 and cut herself some new bangs. She had to climb on top of the fridge to get to the scissors.

She is very, very smart. Almost scary smart. She is constantly watching, and learning and absorbing what she sees.

I feel so grateful that she's in my life. She has truly enriched it and made it better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Memories

My sister called me today, complaining that I hadn't updated my blog in soooooo long, and it was so boring. So, here you go.

As a child, one of the highlights of the summer was the annual outside slumber party. My parents would let us invite a few friends (as many would fit in a tent) and have a sleepover outside. I don't remember what we'd do for the first few hours, but just before bed, my dad would sit us all down and tell a spectacularly scary ghost story. We would then try to go to sleep, but it was difficult, what with all of us crammed in there like sardines, and most likely hopped up on sugar, and adrenaline from the scary story. He'd eventually holler at us to go to sleep.

Right as we were all asleep, he would then pull some stunts to scare us. One year, he employed my best friend's older siblings to make a "ghost" appear over the fence. It was a sheet on a broom, and it was supposed to smoothly glide along the length of the fence. It more did a happy, jumpy little jaunt that made everyone laugh.

I'm nostalgic because as I type this, we have a bunch of kids in our back yard, having a summer sleepover. Today is K's birthday (I shall get sentimental and write a blog post about that tomorrow when I have pictures to illustrate). She begged for a full on party with the outdoor sleepover I've been promising her.

The question is, do I tell the scary story, or let them sleep? We did have someone die in the back yard, not more than about 20 feet from where the tent is now. If I bring that up, will it be overkill? Or fun?

Well, nobody ever accused me of being too nice, so I think I shall go tell the kids a story.

UPDATE: Apparently, I am a "cool mom". I went out and told them a bunch of scary stories, including one where I shriek at the end and had them all screaming. After a while, one of the kids said that I was such a cool mom, and the other kids all agreed. They said that most moms would be yelling at the kids to be yelling at them to go to sleep, but not me. I told them I'd start doing that in about twenty minutes. So, I get to be hang onto a cool status for a bit longer. Then, I went inside for a bit. Snuck out very, very quietly. Sat by the tent and quietly listened to them visit. They were definitely spooked, as they were constantly hearing noises that simply weren't there. I very quietly stuck my hand deep under the tent, where I knew the center of their circle was. Then I wiggled it up and around and scared them silly. I had forgotten this, but they had brought a chess set outside, and apparently, I put my hand right under that, so when I wiggled my arm around, the chess pieces flew in a very dramatic way.

After that, they begged to sleep inside. They insisted they were too hot to sleep. I'm suspicious.

They eventually fell asleep around 1:00am, and slept until 9, when a friend who wasn't permitted to actually SLEEP here came back for the rest of party arrived back at the house.