Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back To School Shopping and Other Tortures

Last night I took the girls to Wal-Mart to do back to school shopping. We had fun picking out everything on their lists. Alyssa's list of supplies was very thorough, while Anna's seemed to be missing a few things (like binders and notebooks) which Anna took surprisingly hard.

She was ready to cancel the entire trip because she didn't feel she could trust the list Wal-Mart supplied. I finally convinced her to calm down by threatening to eliminate the ice cream from my shopping list.

Let me just say I love the self check outs at Wal-Mart. Alyssa is an expert. Here's a little clip of her in action.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wanna Buy A Car?

Too bad - it's already sold. We did the ebay thing and sold our car today.

We didn't get quite what we wanted, but we did get what we needed.

Hey, that would make a good song...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hot Enough For Ya?

The thermometer said this today:

And when I moved it into the sun, it said this:

Working Day

So it would seem I've been going about this whole getting-the-kids-to-work thing all wrong. What usually happens on the weekend is we tell Anna we're going to work, and she has a fit, and to take the sting out of working all day I tell it will be a good mix of working and playing and we'll get a reward.

As a result, she whines and complains during the work, overdoes the play, and still expects the reward.

Yesterday, I decided to "under promise and over deliver" by telling her it was work all day, maybe a break if she was lucky, no play, no reward, just shape up.

Of course, she had her fit, but then as we launched into the chores an amazing thing happened - she helped, and didn't whine. And when I gave her a break, she was grateful.

And then when we put together a fruit salad for dinner as a reward, she was ecstatic.

And the work that got done? Tons.
  • Messy coat closet replaced with organized game closet.
  • Bathroom super cleaned
  • Living area cleaned
  • Three loads of dishes
  • Plastic fish hung in girl's room
  • Guest room cleaned
  • Nice dinner made, with Anna as assistant Chef
I told her I think every day should be working day!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Guinea Pigs And More

So I finally got tired of Anna telling me every little fact and idea about Guinea Pigs she found on the internet, and suggested she start a blog. That way, she can bother you with every little fact and idea she finds.

We had a lot of fun trying to come up with names for the blog. Some runners up include:

Princess Persnickety
A Note from Anna
Howdy from Texas
Bookok Head (Alyssa's favorite insult)
Anna's Ocean Inlet

The winner, of course, is Guinea Pigs and More. Check it out.

Note: Correct Spelling Optional

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Joys And Pains Of Home

In so many ways, it's good to be home. It's also a lot of work. Monday was lots of cleaning and unpacking and replacing the food in the fridge that spoiled while we were gone. Actually, we were pretty good and used up most of our perishables before we left, but replacing them still required a trip to the store.

There were no bad surprises waiting for us when we got home, which is always a concern of mine.

Yesterday we went to the Lyme Dr. We couldn't find anyone to watch the girls, so we took them with us. We've told them that they will need to be tested for Lyme eventually, and shocker of all Anna asked if she could just get it over with. So they took blood from three of us for tests, and I think Alyssa was feeling left out, because she keeps asking when she gets to have her "shot."

Next time, baby cakes. I hope she's still excited when the needle comes out.

Also, today Kara and Anna went to pick up the rat cage. No, we are not getting a rat. Kara told Anna she could get a guinea pig for her birthday in September, and we have heard nothing but "guinea pig, guinea pig, guinea pig" for the last month. I make cracks about South American protein whenever I've heard enough.

At the pet store Monday night, while picking up flea spray for Tucker, Anna met a lady who offered to give her this rat cage for free. I don't exactly know how this conversation went down, but I was at another store buying groceries so I'll leave that part to Kara. Anyway, they went and picked the cage up today, and it's quite the setup, especially for free. Two layers, with a wheel and water bottle and little ramps and everything.

There's still more than a month left until Anna's birthday. I hope the anticipation doesn't cause her to explode.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What You've All Been Waiting For

OK, so here are some pictures from our grand return adventure. (As soon as Blogger stops being all goofy on me....)

Anna managed to stay plugged in and still enjoy the view on our drive to Santa Fe.

At the Jackalope Store, you can find metal horses for the same price as a used car,

Lots o' rocks


And the pots to put them in.

This barbecue grill just oozes irony.

At lunch we played at a park with a steam engine

And a zip line toy.

Then we went to a living history museum, where the girls made their own tortillas. Yum!

There was dinner at the Guadalupe Cafe. We called our friends in North Carolina and asked for recommendations. Then it was back to the park with the spinning clover things. Not the best idea right after dinner, I'm afraid.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We made it home, safe and sound and with only a few minor casualties.

I managed to undelete the pictures from yesterday. They weren't as great as I remember them, but I'll post them anyway. Tomorrow.

We need to unpack and go to bed. Not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Day in Santa Fe

We did a lot of things today as a family. Fun things.

I took a lot of pictures of these fun things. Good pictures.

I copied the pictures onto the computer so I could use them in my blog.

But somehow the pictures got deleted from the computer.

And from the camera.

I have nothing.

I would tell you about all of the fun things we did today, but I'm just not in the mood now.

Homeward Bound - Leg 1

We made it to Santa Fe last night with no actual physical violence taking place, although there were more than a few threats made, and the verbal attacks were in large supply, especially in the back seat. You'd think everyone had just spent the last two weeks being overstimulated or something.

We had a visit from our friend and former neighbor Shauna and her kids the night before we left. Shauna was a great help to us as we were preparing our move, so it was good to reconnect with her.

Then the next morning, after a quick trip to Wal-Mart for Redbox videos and ham and cheese, we topped off our gas tank, received a delivery of forgotten items (thanks, Mom) then made a stop to visit Tristi and pick up her book Season of Sacrifice.

It's amazing the difference in attitude and patience levels that exist between the beginning and end of a trip. Yesterday's drive felt all of the 10 hours long.

We're staying the day in Santa Fe, hopefully to recharge and renew and hopefully set up a better final leg tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is It The Last Minute Yet?

The clothes are washed, and most are even packed. We've reserved Redbox movies to pick up in the morning, and we've visited everyone we're going to get to this trip, with the exception of two. One is on her way over now, and we'll stop by the other on our way through the valley tomorrow morning.

It's been a good trip. I fully expect the drive home to be good, too.

I pray there are no surprises when we get there...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Let's Get Together (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)

It's been great to visit everyone here in Utah. The only trouble is, we haven't been able to visit all of everyone.

With time running short, I thought it might be fun to get together tonight at 6:30 to visit and chat and let the kids run wild.

There's a little covered picnic area next to a big grassy field near my mom's house in Lehi. If you feel so inclined, bring yourself a little picnic dinner and meet us at the corner of 3280 N 600 E in Lehi.

Very casual and informal and last minute, but if you can come we'd love to see you.

View Larger Map

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Alyssa

Today is Alyssa's birthday. Finally. She's been talking about it for over a week.

She started her first day as a nine-year-old by making herself a baby bottle, which I confiscated immediately after taking this picture.

She helped with the birthday cake by licking the spatula.

The birthday girl and her cake.

We had the party at Wine's Park in Lehi, so swinging with Auntie Reen was a must.

The cake and ice cream ladies are the most important part of any party.

Happy Birthday Alyssa!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Cheese Bagel In My Honor

Every Friday my company brings in bagels for the employees, and every Friday my friend Dan sends me a message that says "A cheese bagel is being eaten in your honor."

Well, today I get to eat my own cheese bagel. Woo-hoo!

Even before the bagels came, I have enjoyed being in the office. I've been able to see outside the myopic tunnel of my own job tasks and reconnect with what everyone else is working on. I've conducted several training meetings for tools I have worked on, and been given a good, high-visibility project. Having positive visibility is essential in my circumstances, so I welcome the task.

Last night I took the girls to the Seven Peaks water park in Provo. My mom's dentist had a customer appreciation night, and she got tickets for us. I must officially be an old fart, because I would rather have visited the dentist in his chair than at a water park.

Anyway, the night went just about as I expected - we didn't get to leave for the park as early as we should have; Alyssa was a tired whiner baby who was intimidated by the crowds and water and didn't want to do anything; and Anna was a whiner baby when it was time to go.

The piece of the adventure I didn't foresee was getting locked out of our car. I'm borrowing my brother-in-law's car while they are on vacation, and I always use the clicker to unlock the doors. Well, apparently you need to use the clicker on the doors, as the key appears to be like a valet key that only turns the ignition.

Being ignorant of this little factoid, I left the clicker at home, as electronic devices generally tend not to like getting wet.

Fortunately, we were at the park with another sister and brother-in-law, and he happens to be a police officer with some good breaking and entering skills. Unfortunately, his tools for doing so were at the police station, so they headed off to retrieve them.

I believe it was the combination of prayers and the threat of police action that caused the door to finally submit to the key and open for us. Hooray!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Closer Look: Something Completely Different

Annette Lyon tagged me for the Closer Look meme, which is completely different from the Keeping It Real tag I did a couple of weeks back.

Well, maybe not completely different, but different enough. Plus, Annette pays more attention to my writing blog, where she has been a great source of guidance and support, so it's very easy for me to cut her some slack here.

Also, some of these pictures are recycled from the above mentioned similar tag, as it might be considered bad form to post picture's of my host's housekeeping on my blog.

#1 The Kitchen Sink - This is our house, and we made sure the sink was empty before we left. I should have taken a picture.

#2 The Fridge - and as a bonus, the freezer. And there is no yak - it has been eaten.

#3 Favorite Shoes - Not so essential here in Utah as they are in Texas. I don't wear them to work here because they keep the office a little more comfortable than my stingy landlord.

#4 The Closet. It still looks like this, although with a few more empty hangers, as some of the clothes came with us on vacation.

#5 The Laundry Pile - It's pretty easy to keep up with laundry when it's just a few suitcases of summer clothes. I had just put the second (and last) load into the washer when I got this tag, so the only things left were the shirt off my back and a pair of socks (which I assure you were not worn with my favorite shoes).

#6 What My Kids Are Doing Right Now - I swear we waste so much money and space supplying these kids with two beds, as this is how they end up every night.

#7 My Favorite Room - Now that the pianos are in, this room stays clean and fills the rest of the house with happy music.

#8 My Most Recent Purchase - Kangaroo Loin Fillets.

#9 A Place Where I Would Like to Go On Vacation - I'll stick with Sea World on this one. There are a lot of places I would like to go, but for a family vacation I would love to go to Sea World. Maybe next year - San Antonio is only 4 hours by car.

#10 Self Portrait - I had to take a new picture, since I just cut my hair and undoubtedly look so much different.

I'm still waiting for Liz and Autumn to do this tag from last time. You can pick and choose which group of pictures you want to do.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Driving the Utah Leg

Our trip got off to a delayed start yesterday, thanks to a couple of jars of spoiled ostrich. A very penitent husband quickly ran to the store (did you know you could buy ostrich at the store?) and the whole affair only put us back an hour.

I had hoped to make a few recreational stops along the way, but being under a time crunch we kept up a more aggressive pace. Fortunately the on-the-road entertainment was functional.

I made the girls pause and look up at some of the more interesting rock formations.

The fat one seems to be making a rude gesture at us.

I tried to take a picture of Kara drinking her bok-choi puree, but she ended up laughing so hard I was afraid she would crash, spreading us all over the Four Corners.

The girls and I are staying in Lehi with my mom, and Kara is at a friend's house in Park City. It should be a couple of interesting weeks.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


We've arrived safely, and in good time. The evening was spent visiting, so details of the trip must wait until tomorrow.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day, USA

It's late, and I should be sleeping. But I know you're dying to know about our day. Here it is, in short paragraphs and pictures.

We went to the Santa Fe Pancakes on the Plaza for breakfast. Due to extremely long lines, we did not actually eat pancakes for breakfast, but went to a little restaurant just off the Plaza.

Kara and Anna found jewelry galore that they wanted. They only bought a couple pair of earrings.

We went to the famous cathedral in Santa Fe. Anna enjoyed taking pictures.

We cruised around the various shops. Here we are with our friend Richard, who guided us through our adventure today.

No Fourth of July is complete without a stop at the Christmas store.

In the afternoon, we ate pizza and toured the Georgia O'Keeffe museum. They don't allow cameras.

We found a park, because Alyssa asked us to. Four times. Each hour. Starting at 6:00 am.

The park had these spinning shamrock things that got going really fast just using gravity and most likely a rider's attempt to balance. Nobody fell, but everyone got dizzy.

We drove up the hill and watched the fireworks in town. We were a couple of miles away, but that allowed us to miss the traffic.

Carly tells us we'll be driving for 9 1/2 hours tomorrow. We'll see.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Arrived - With Photos!

We're here in Santa Fe. The trip was pretty long (13+ total hours, 11+ driving), and started with a detour to a pharmacy in Dallas to get Kara's enzymes (for some reason the pharmacies near us are having some trouble getting this one in).

We got out the door at 7:30 - about a half-hour behind schedule, which was really pretty good for our crew. After we got the van packed, I told Anna to go and find another suitcase and fill it with whatever she could find, because there was still some room left over. It was too early for her to appreciate such a joke.

The girls were pretty good this trip, but not so much as last trip. I think the heat may have affected everyone. We stopped at a rest area with a really cool play fort.

Anna made some new best friends, as she always does.

We took a made a quick stop at Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo - you know, that place along the old Route 66 with the cars half buried in the field.

The girls were suitably impressed.

We told Alyssa that this time it was OK to write on the car.

We were given directions on a short cut we could take. It was a very scenic drive, and only added about 15 minutes to the trip.

The rooms we have are very nice. Since Anna is unwilling to sleep without an adult in the room, I've got the second best scenario - Alyssa and I in a room with twin beds. Both kids have too many arms and legs in the night for me to comfortably share a bed.

We're spending the Fourth here in Santa Fe. I'm not sure what we'll do, but tomorrow evening I'll be sure and let you know what it was. Then it's off to Utah for a couple of weeks.

On the Road (Almost)

It's going to happen, folks. The car is mostly loaded, the kids are mostly dressed, and we're minutes away from the first whole-family road trip in over half a decade!

Stay tuned for (hopefully not too) exciting tales of our grand highway adventure.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Minivan Adventure Days 3 & 4, Plus a Bonus

OK, everyone. I'm back home safe and sound. I left Subway long ago, and you can stop watching for my name on CNN.

Here's a picture of the van. Nothing extra fancy, but it will fit our needs very well.

The problem with the air conditioner turned out to be many small leaks in the tubing. They finally decided to fix this using some kind of spray-in goop that seals the holes. Obviously this just postpones replacing the lines for (hopefully) a year or two, but it's less expensive and allowed me to leave by 2:00 MDT.

While I waited, I did a bunch of work and an even bigger bunch of writing/editing.

The drive back home was very boring until the Highway Patrol got involved.

It seems that the temporary tag isn't terribly visible in the midnight hour, and troopers like to pull over cars that are driving without any plates. Fortunately I was minding my speed very carefully (with a little help from the car in front of me) so the little traffic stop was just a five-minute inconvenience.

Today I got the state inspection taken care of, and for some reason while the van was hooked up to the machine I was a nervous wreck - probably because there would be very little time to get issues fixed. I'll head off to the DMV this afternoon to get real Texas plates, and we should be set.

As I was driving through the nothings of south-eastern New Mexico, Kara called and said "Well, if you didn't have anything to blog about today, now you do."

I thought to myself, This is not good.

She said "Alyssa found the magic marker, and now everyone will know where she lives."

Perhaps she's learning to write in binary?