Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Denver Doings

You guys, I had so much fun in Denver!  It was such a short, whirlwind trip - but maybe that's for the best as it left us all wishing for more.  I was greeted at the airport by the whole family in their new minivan, and that started my weekend off just right!  I had a special seat reserved in the back next to Lexi, 5 years old.  She chattered happily to me the whole way back to their house.  Matthew, 3 years old, kept peeking back at me from around the edge of his car seat.  Little Skylee, 3 weeks old, slept contentedly in her car seat.  She wasn't too fazed by Mema's arrival.  Turns out she's not too fazed by much - she is a remarkably easy little pocket pal, a perfect attendee at any outing.
So before we go any further, here are the main characters in the weekend:
Alexis/Lexi, 5 years old  
She has lost both bottom teeth, and the new ones are just starting to grow in!

Matthew, 3 years old
He loves to mug for the camera

Skylee, 3 weeks old
This is about as excited as she gets during the day.

We arrived home, dragged the suitcase up to the room I would share with Lexi, and then Lexi, Matthew, and I headed around the corner to the park.  They wanted to swing, so Lexi showed me how she knew how to pump her legs, and I pushed Matthew.  I regaled them with stories of how, when I was their age, I had a swingset in my backyard!  Lexi's dark eyes were big as she asked if my backyard had been a park.  (She doesn't know that her mother's goal for the coming year is to get a swingset in their own yard - won't that be a wonderful surprise?!?)
Ronna picked us up from the park so we could go out and buy some tea party treats.  Nothing Bundt Cakes was the chosen place.  We got a dozen assorted little bite sized bundt cakes, and headed home to make dinner.  Do you know how hard it is to get little ones to eat dinner and take baths when all they can think about is a tea party?  It wasn't easy, but finally we were ready for tea.  Lexi gathered her Tinkerbell teapot and spoons, and we got some people sized cups and plates.  Lexi was involved in teaching "Maffew" to be a gentleman, and I think she had some success.  There's only so much you can do with a 3 year old boy, but I think she did it.
We partied down:

When we were finally sitting around later that evening my son asked me if I'd brought church clothes and I gulped.  I hadn't.  I was trying to pack as lightly as I could, and I just assumed that with a new baby, they wouldn't be going.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  It was the Sunday that the Primary children do their program, and it's always a special treat.  Even more special, Lexi had a part to say.  Ronna told me that they were having a special Visiting Teaching presentation the third hour, and that they'd asked her to say a few words.  She was so nervous, she was thinking of using the baby as an excuse, but couldn't get out of her mind a personal experience she'd had with some loving VT sisters when she was having some life struggles.  I sent up a little prayer that somehow I'd be able to throw together some kind of outfit so we could all go.
Saturday morning Lexi was picked up by a friend of Ronna's, and off she went to her Primary Program rehearsal.  Ronna and I spent the morning feeding the baby, taking care of Matthew, and getting ourselves ready.  When Lexi got home a couple of hours later, she was glowing with success - she had delivered her part with confidence and had it completely memorized, due to Rex and Ronna's perseverance.  They'd had a pizza party afterwards, and she was one happy little girl.  
Rex had read about a Fall Festival taking place in Boulder over the weekend so we packed up the car and took off.  Lexi had learned to play Rock Paper Scissors in school, and so for almost the entire hour it took to get to Boulder we played Rock Paper Scissors.  Awesome.  My fists had a brief respite when a CD she liked was put on and she belted out the song like the best kind of diva.  Adorable.
The Fall Festival consisted of some carnival rides, some bounce houses complete with slides, and lots of food and music.  And there, with almost a halo around it, was a booth selling the cutest handmade skirts at an affordable price.  My little weekend miracle.  I bought one without even trying it on, and I was so happy as I mentally matched the clothes I'd brought with it.
Matthew hadn't had a nap for the second day in a row, and it was starting to show, and little Skylee had been asleep for most of the day.  It was time to head home after some rides and walking around a bit.

Once Matthew fell asleep in the car, he never did regain consciousness - not even when we arrived home.  Ronna put him to bed in his clothes.  Skylee was awake and ready to party at that point.  Ronna and I made a run for Olive Garden takeout and Rex stayed with Skylee.  He must have called us 5 times before we got home.  He was trying to watch the UFC fights, and Skylee was fussy.  He handled it like the good dad he is, but was getting frustrated and worried because she kept going cross eyed - like every newborn does.  At last - Olive Garden to soothe everyone's frazzled nerves and hungry stomachs.
Now, it would be a perfect story if I were able to say that Skylee slept like a champ and we all got up for church rested and refreshed.  But she didn't, and Ronna was exhausted.  I got ready quickly and tried to help out as much as I could.  When Rex, Lexi, and Matthew were ready, I went with them and left Ronna to get herself ready and bring the baby a bit later.  
Lexi sat up on the stand with the rest of the children and looked excited.  Every so often she would smile at Rex or me and give us a little wave.  But she always had one eye on the door.  When her mother finally walked in, her little face just lit up, and I was so happy that everyone was there to see her performance.  Her part was letter perfect, and she spoke so clearly.  She sang her little heart out.  And Mema sat down in the congregation and cried like a baby from happiness.  I'm not sure why I was so emotional, but these little ones just touch your heart with their sweetness and simple faith in Jesus Christ. My heart was just too full of love and emotion and it spilled out.  Loved every minute of it.
We got to the third hour, and Ronna overcame her nerves, and shared her personal experience with everyone there.  I won't go into it, but I know what bravery it took for her to do that, and again - I was just SO PROUD of her.  And I know she felt a personal triumph herself - especially when so many sisters told her how wonderful it was for her to share her story.  This girl has come a long, long way, and has overcome so much.  To say I'm proud of her is a huge understatement.  I wish I had half of her bravery.
After church we got home, and Matthew wanted to sample one of the chocolate covered cinnamon gummy bears they'd handed out to the ladies in our third hour.  I liked them, but I can say with certaintly that its a candy for grownups.  Matthew bit the head off and a tragic look came over his face.  "That's horrible!" he blurted out.  I had a hard time getting myself to stop laughing.  Who says "horrible" when they're only 3 years old?  
I took out the camera for a little photo shoot.  It was a beautiful day - blue skies and warm.  Lexi put on her new Halloween skirt and top that I'd gotten her, and decked herself out with the new Halloween necklace that Aunt Katie had sent.  She struck pose after pose.  I told her she was a wonderful model and she said "Thanks Mema.  I've never done this before."  So sweet and simple and sincere.  I was able to catch some good shots of all 3 kids, and here are the best ones:
Rockin' that necklace!
Couldn't leave this happy boy out!

We got Skylee into the act... two happy little girls!

And another shot of two pretty girls.

Lexi was pretty proud to be sitting outside holding her little sister!  Especially in her
new Halloween garb... she knew she looked pretty!

Nothing is more fun than a day with these three cuties!

There were lots more pictures, but I haven't had a chance to go over them yet.  I'll share them little by little in other posts.  I didn't have the opportunity to give Rex and Ronna a night out, but I did get up early on Monday morning with Skylee and had a quiet morning with her so Ronna could have some uninterrupted sleep.  Of course, Skylee chose that night to sleep clear through until 6am, so I didn't suffer too much!
I was sad to leave, but I'm already trying to plan the next time I'll be able to go back and see them.  While I was there, I didn't have an ache or a pain.  I was rested and ready to play.  There must be something magic about sharing a double bed with a 5 year old girl.  Your complaints just magically disappear for the duration of the visit.  So that's my Rx to everyone - leave your regular routine, and lose yourself in the fun world of small people.  The joy is contagious.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Denver Bound

I'm on my way to Denver in the morning!  Lexi called me tonight to say she could hardly wait until I got there.  I have the feeling it's going to go all too fast - it's only 4 days.  I have a lot of ideas about what to do with them, but we'll see what pans out.  New babies sometimes blow all plans out of the water.
I'm strapped for time - I have packing to do, so this will be short.  I won't be posting until Tuesday or so of next week, but I'm hoping to have a lot of pictures to share with you.  Besides playing games, tea parties, and rocking babies, I'm hoping to give these two a night out alone.  I'm sure they could use it!

Photo by TenderShootz

Ya'll be good while I'm gone, and I'll do my best to catch up with all of you when I get back.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday Scraps

PhotobucketMy new friend at Knees and Paws has introduced a "Saturday Scraps" meme.  We are to write or photograph memories, thoughts, whatever defines us.  We are joined in a crazy quilt of sorts through our fellow bloggers' individual squares of memory and experience.

One week of Constant Ankle Brace down.  I'm encouraged.  The swelling in my right ankle is down so much, and it's feeling very back to normal.  Because of this, I need to stay extra disciplined about wearing the brace until I see the doctor again.  It's so tempting to go without it - it's hot and uncomfortable - but I don't want the improvement to reverse because I got complacent.
L and I went for our first "real" bike ride on Saturday.  We took the bike trail along the Santa Ana Riverbed, starting at around 3:00 in the afternoon.  The temperature was perfect, and a light breeze was blowing.  The trail can get pretty crowded in the morning - lots of cyclists and walkers.  And, with my history of mowing things down, I didn't want to take chances by riding in a lot of cycling traffic.  We'd ridden around close to home a few nights during the week, and so I was pleasantly surprised at how I was able to keep up and not get too tired out.  Actually, what got tired first was my butt.  I am ok for the first little while but by the time we'd ridden a little over 3 miles, I needed to give my seat a rest from the bike seat.

 To our right, at this point, was the riverbed, and it was full of ducks, and those beautiful white ibis.  (Too bad L didn't get them in this shot.)  The ducks quacked happily and the ibis stood on their stork-like legs and watched us pedal past.
To our left was a park, and this is where we stopped to rest, in the shade of a covered bench that was complete with bike racks.  We drank our water and watched other cyclists and walkers go by.  L had his Precious with him (his i-Phone) and he turned on the i-Pod feature so we could listen to music.  Precious also has an app that kept track of our mileage and the time it took to reach said mileage.  (I TOLD you L was going to get that app!)
After a short rest we started back.  It soon became obvious that this way was more difficult as 1) We were going against the wind, and 2) It was more uphill.  No wonder that first half had seemed so pleasant!  But I was happy with myself - I was able to keep up the pace, and never once had to get off my bike and walk it up a hill.  I thought I might once, but I toughed it out.  Next time we go out, we'll have to try to go even farther.  I have a friend who, with her husband, has been riding for awhile now, and they rode to the beach and back on Saturday - 25 miles total!  She was so nice and encouraging and said we'd be up to that mileage in no time.  (Suddenly our 7.3 miles seemed teensy...)
But I'm pleased with myself - pleased that we'd made that much progress in a week.  I know I hold L back - he could do a lot more - but it's so kind of him to wait for Wobbly Me to build my strength up.  He is the best friend I could ever have.
The week coming up is a busy one.  There is work, and somewhere I have to squeeze in a visit to the rheumatologist.  Seems that he's unwilling to approve my Enbrel refill  since I haven't seen him in a couple of years.  My arthritis has been dicey lately so he's right to force me to come in - it'll be good to finally do it, actually.
And THEN -  on Friday its off to Denver to spend a long weekend with Rex, Ronna, Lexi, Matthew and Skylee.

We will have a tea party, I will cook all dinners, and I will spend as much time as possible playing with Lexi and Matthew, and perhaps holding and soothing Skylee back to sleep in the wee hours.  The weekend will go quickly - too quickly - and I want to enjoy EVERY MINUTE.  These little ones are so precious, and I have only short periods of time with them during the year.  So I pray for special health and strength to see me through days filled with reading stories, playing games, cooking dinners, rocking babies, and late night girl talk with Ronna.  These will be memories that I treasure forever after.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Girl Who Goes Boom

L and I went on one of our "romantic" night time bike rides tonight.  The one we went on last night took us on a lot of busy streets, and then, for the finale, L led me to the end of a cul de sac that had a little paved path that went up to the bike trail.  He said "pedal fast - there's a bump."  So I pedaled fast, having perfect faith in my fearless leader.  The bump was actually more like a low curb.  My bike flew up and rattled.  I wobbled and almost fell off.  I said lots of bad words.  I tend to do that when I get scared.

So tonight, after the craziness of trying to ride on bike trails that were too dark to see on, or trying to stay away from cars on busy streets, we found a quiet neighborhood that had a long stretch of street with several shorter streets intersecting.  Perfect for a nighttime ride - not a lot of cars, quiet neighborhood.  Safety first.  What could possibly happen here?
We started off and we rode up and down the one main street.  L soon tired of the straight line and wanted to go off on some side streets.  I started to, but they were fairly hilly, and I knew in my present state of unfitness I would just end up walking my bike up hills.  I'm trying to be coordinated - I really am - but both inner thighs are black and blue from hopping on and off the bike and inadvertently hitting that damn water bottle holder.  Ow. Ow. Ow.  I take a lot of Excedrin every day, and that doesn't help - I bruise really easily.
Back to my story: I told L to go off on some of the other streets.  I would be fine just doing my minor little street with the gradual slope.  I was practicing going up and down the incline without changing to an easier gear to get my muscles stronger and not so wobbly.  So off he went.  I was continuing up the street, and I turned around to see what street he'd turned off on, and when I turned back around... WHAM - I ran my bike straight into not one, but two big black trash cans.  I flew off the bike, scraped my knee, cut my hand, hurt my shoulder, lost an earring, and wrecked the back brake cable.  And knocked my seat crooked.  It made a big boom, and lots of dogs were barking.  It was really really embarrassing, and I was so happy that no one saw me do it.  My legs were all shaky - you know how they get? -  but I staggered to my feet and picked up the two trashcans.  I picked up my bike but I was too shaky to get back on, so I walked it down the street, snuffling quietly to myself.  I finally got back on just about the time that L came back around the corner.
My brakes were all messed up and my shoulder hurt so I told him I needed to go home.  When I told him what happened I could tell he was thinking that he KNEW I would do something like that when he left me on my own, but he tried to be nice.  I think he was a little mad, but he was trying not to be.  I felt really bad.  I didn't dare ask him to take me back so I could find my earring.
So off we went back home, me a sad little mess, and my frustrated husband wondering why his wife can't stop getting hurt.  I didn't used to be this accident prone - I really really didn't and it's a little mysterious to me why this keeps happening.  I try to be careful but it doesn't work.  And this is just riding a freaking bike.  I mean, I used to jump on horses and barrel them around a whole course of jumps.  Fearlessly.  And I only killed myself a couple of times.  But now I can't even ride a bike without running into parked trash cans, or walk without spraining an ankle.  So first L said no more night rides for me, but now he is googling the price of more powerful bicycle lights that you can actually see with.  His heart is softening.  Because in truth, I think I'm just too dang entertaining to leave home.  I bring mayhem and excitement to the party.  Keeps you alive and jumping, if only a little bruised and battered.  Keeps you wondering, "What's next?"  
What's next is that from now on I'll keep my eyes on the road ahead, because I'm running out of favorite things to do that don't kill me.  The End.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mother Hubbard Wants Her Flip Flops Back

I am clumping around in my sweet new ankle brace.  Remember my swollen ankle?  The one that had been injured time and time again, and now refuses to be un-swollen?  I found out why when I went to the podiatrist on Monday.  (Incidently, the podiatrist looked like a cheerful little Ron Paul)  He popped my X-rays up on the screen and pointed to a broken bone under my big toe (probably broken a good while back), and a big bone spur on the top inside of my ankle, another bone chip floating around on the side, and, because everything is so catawompus, my ankle joint hangs crooked and so the outside bone is starting to slide downward, out of position.  Ohhhhh... so THAT's what's going on in there!  The good doctor frowned at my flip flops, and told me never go go barefoot.  Maybe I should die now, too...  And for the next TWO WEEKS I have to wear supportive shoes.  As in Nikes or New Balance.  Ugh.  I never wear those kinds of shoes unless I'm working out.  (Hahaha - and if you know me, you know that's never often enough!)  I supposed there was no point in asking him when I could wear heels again, so I kept quiet on that.  I'm not a total idiot.
So I've got this black brace that laces up the front like Mother Hubbard shoes, and THEN I get to stuff all of that inside a pair of, as it happens, Avias.  And I do mean stuff.  It's a glamorous sight, I tell ya.  But I'm trying to be good, because he said if I don't, my ankle won't un-swell, and it will most likely dislocate, and then it will need to be fused.  And that is a party I'd like to avoid.  He said when the swelling is all down, we can talk about repair.
On a cheerier note, L and I went out Saturday and bought bicycles.  His, of course, is black - because he IS the man in black.  Navy blue if he's feeling particularly colorful.  But here is mine:

LOVE my little bike!  I'm surprised at how wobbly I am, though.  Surprised and embarrassed.  But we've gone out and done some riding every night (we have lights that flicker like little strobe lights on front and rear) and it has to get easier, right?  I just haven't used those muscles in so long I feel like an idiot huffing and puffing along.  But it's fun.  L is so into this: he bought a rack to carry the bikes down to the beach to ride this weekend, and he ordered me a sweet little basket so I can carry things.  Like snacks.  Or beach towels.  And I know he's going to order the i-Phone bracket for his Precious.  Scott was telling him about it last night, and about how i-Phone has free apps that will plot your course and track your mileage.  L was hooked, I could tell.
And speaking of Scott and Ashley: they took us to dinner last night for my birthday!  (See? A week later, and it still goes on and on like a good birthday should!)  We had such a good time, in spite of my ugly ankle brace.  Scott enthralled L with tales of I-Phone apps, and Ashley and I planned a pool/lunch day for this Thursday.  I will lose the brace for that.
Still no more pictures of little Skylee, but Katie never lets me down.  Here are the recent ones of Mia and Hayden.

Could a little girl look any cuter in a hat?

Hayden has that same dreamy look I get on my face when I'm eating M&Ms.  She's all decked out for Halloween!  I hope she saves some M&Ms for Mema.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let's Talk About Everything, But Mostly ME

You probably thought I'd gone AWOL - drunk with birthday bliss or something.  Yes dear friends, I turned 58 yesterday.  Rather quietly too.  First of all, it was a work day for me so that definitely put a damper on any wild partying.  To make matters worse (yes, I'm about to complain) I've been suffering for awhile with a very bad ankle.
Let's back up and give a short history of this ankle.  I was always a tad clumsy, and this ankle has always been a tad weak.  I've sprained it more than once in my formative years.  I would be in a hurry, not watching where I was going and UNGH - over it would go.  But the piece de resistance was when I was in my 30's.  I had a horse - a hunter jumper - that had gone lame.  While he was recuperating I was riding a HUGE horse that was in the stable.  His name was Chopin.  And he was the biggest horse I'd ever been on.  My trainer was having us jump a little course, and I got Chopin to the jump in an awkward place.  He gave it a huge effort, and in the process I flew up in the air and landed spread eagle on his back.  It surprised him.  He took off at a dead run.  I remember clearly thinking it would be a good idea to push myself off and land on my feet before I was killed.  And so I did.  But I landed on that weak foot, and I heard things rip.  Oh man that hurt.  A lot.  Some how we got my boot off, and I was on crutches for awhile after that little trick.  That ankle was always just a little bit fatter than the left one after that.
Fast forward about 20 years.  I develop rheumatoid arthritis.  This is a very annoying condition that seems to head right for the places that are weak.  Like my ankle.  Sometimes it's there, sometimes it likes to go torment other places, like my knees.  Or my shoulder.  But for the past 2 weeks it has found a home in my right ankle.  I've had to stop walking in the evenings with my husband because it's getting worse.  I've cried uncle and have made an appointment with a podiatrist to find out what's going on in there.  Why not my rheumatologist?  Because he's looked at it before and wasn't much interested in doing anything about it.  (I'm looking for a new rheumatologist, by the way)  ANYWAY - I've been hobbling and limping around here like a woman twice my age and I'm sick of it.
I've decided a bicycle would be a good thing to have.  It doesn't bother my ankle to ride one.  So that is my birthday present from L.  We haven't found the right one yet, but we're going to go out and seriously look this weekend.  I'm tempted to get the one designed by Missoni at Target.  It's so cute and chic, but I think the real point is to get exercise and not pay extra for Missoni painted fenders.  But it's tempting.

So my birthday passed quietly because I didn't feel well enough ankle-wise to do much.  L took me out for a delicious, quiet dinner - just the two of us.  I looked forward to it all day - just my love and me.
My granddaughter Lexi called to wish me a happy birthday.  She asked me what I was doing for my birthday and I told her that Papa was going to take me to dinner.  *crickets chirping*  Finally she said "That's all?" Yikes - I didn't want to seem boring to her, so I told her I was going to have my party with her when I got there in a couple of weeks.  WELL - right away she said we could have a tea party up in her room and that "All my dolls could join us.  I have a lot of dolls, Mema."  Lexi makes me laugh.  I can't wait to get there.
I have some birthday money to spend (combined with the gift certificate from my coworkers) and this is what I'm thinking of getting:

Call me crazy, but I just love that pink.  It'll be like a crazy neutral.  All of the bags I have now are really big.  And heavy.  I want one that is a little bit smaller, and that will go with the wallet I bought earlier in the year.  This would do it, but I'll have to go to the actual store to see them in person.  I'm excited to go shopping, but my ankle isn't so sure.
I haven't seen any new pictures of our new little Skylee.  I talked to mama Ronna right after I talked to Lexi, and she sounded a little bit tired - understandably so.  I thought it probably wasn't a good time to hound her for pictures, so I'm trying to be patient.  If nothing else, I'll take a ton of pictures when I go in a couple of weeks.
This post is turning into a mish mash.  Some days are like that.  No focus.  All over the place.  And I'm hungry so I'm not concentrating.  I'll end this with a picture that L took on the last time we tried to walk down at the beach.  I'm always amazed at what good pictures i-Phones take.  It was (another) lovely day and the lighting was beautiful.

Every day after this picture was taken has been stinking hot - around 100 degrees, and humid for California.  It has me longing for autumn.  Crisp, cool nights, blue skies during the day.  Halloween right around the corner.  I need to get my ankle fixed so I can enjoy new babies, tea parties with Lexi, and trick or treating with Mia and Hayden later on in Massachusetts!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Boy or Girl? The Hot Debate Resolved Today..

Hey you guys - my daughter in law Ronna is in the hospital RIGHT NOW having her baby!  We don't know what it is.  No one knows what it is yet.  They have Lexi, who is five.

And they have Matthew, who is three.

And now we'll have a new little surprise to love.  We just got a text a couple of hours ago that Ronna was in labor, and at the hospital.  I'm guess I should hurry up and shower now so I don't miss that next important call.
I don't think Mommy or Daddy really care whether they get this

Or this:

We don't much care whether the newcomer has big brown eyes

Or big blue ones

Lexi might like a small someone who is more like her

Matthew might wish for a brother who is full of fun to play with

Daddy might wish for a boy to take long walks with
Photo by TenderShootz

But we also know that Daddy has a huge tender spot for girls too

Mommy doesn't care.  She loves them all with the best kind of mother's love.
Photos above & below by Tendershootz

Do Mema and Papa care whether the baby is a boy or a girl?  

Nah.  Not at all.  Because we know that whether the surprise comes in pink

Or blue

This little family is in for some changes of the best kind
Photo by Tendershootz

and some unimagined good times.

And Papa and I just can't wait to take a peek at that new little face!

Stay tuned for the big announcement!

ADDENDUM: We are pleased to announce the arrival of *drumroll*

the very beautiful Skylee Mae, who arrived at 11:30-ish (in my excitement I forgot to ask the exact time) this morning and who weighed in at a healthy 7 lbs, 8 oz, and was 20" long.  Hot dog!  I'm off to buy little girl things!!

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