Dec 25, 2012

Christmas 2012 - Year of the Kayak

Doug and I had a lot of discussions about Christmas this year.  What do we want to get the kids?  What do we want Santa to get the kids?  (Parents can make special requests, ya know?!?)  We thought about it, and decided it would be awesome to have kayaks.  We've used them over the years and had lots of fun with them, but never had our own.  In Rhode Island we borrowed them from a neighbor and in Japan we could rent them easily and cheaply at Outdoor Rec on base.  Here, we don't have easy or cheap access.

So after the boys sent their letters to Santa, we sent one too--via
Christmas morning, the boys alternated waking up super early and being sent back to bed--about a million times each.  At some point, Gabe went down stairs, saw everything and came back up to report what everyone was getting.  Serves us right for not getting up at 5 a.m.!

Regardless of the spoilers from Gabe, Santa really came through and the boys had a great morning!

We figured the boys might not be as initially excited about the kayaks as us and we were right.  But it was okay.  They got excited for those later.
The boys love this awesome pirate ship/cupboard/shelf thingy.  My neighbor Lisa saw it at Costco and just KNEW the boys needed to have it and so she bought it for them.  What an awesome lady!  
They love it and play with it daily.

Doug says it's my dream come true because it's basically a boy doll house.  (It's true.  I love it.)
Other favorite gifts were lego sets, (of course) art supplies, and books.

Gabe LOVES to color with markers!!!

The kayaks got a whole lot more exciting when we took them to the pool.  The water was bitterly cold, but it was fine as long as you stayed on top of the water and not in it!
Mini Kayaks:  LOVE THEM!!!  Small, light, perfect!!!
Maxing weight capacity and hoping I don't sink into the icy water.  Brrrr!!!

Over all, it was a really fun and relaxing day!!!  Merry Christmas!!!

Dec 24, 2012

Christmas Eve with Friends

We had a great Christmas Eve.  As usual, we celebrated with a Mexican Fiesta.  This year we were joined by our awesome friends the W's.  Ruth and Scott are in our ward and have 5 kids close in age to our kids.  We used to carpool before I switched my kids to the charter school.  After a yummy dinner, the kids did the nativity.  Our neighbors Lisa and Dan came over for the performance and it was chaotic and adorable as usual.

After Tres Leches for dessert, everyone went home and we opened our Christmas Jammies.  Doug and Max found me baby blue Garfield footie jammies.  (I was a huge Garfield fan as a kid and recently found a set of vintage Garfield flannel sheets in a box my dad has been storing for 15+ years--they're currently on Sammy's bed.)
The jammies were awesome,  but a little too small so I settled for my Target ones--orange with white polka dots.

Cookies for Santa
Then it was off to bed for the boys while Mom and Dad stayed up for the next 4 hours assembling things!

To be continued...!

Dec 22, 2012

A Little Reminder from Sandy

Got this via e-mail today.  Brought back some painful memories and reminded me that I am not 100% prepared for a disaster.  (Especially if it lasts for more than a few days.)  Even after what we've lived through in Japan!  Here we are on an earthquake-prone coast again and there are still some things we really need to add to our Emergency Preparedness stash!  (First off, more fuel and propane!)

Also made me feel very grateful our power was on (though very limited) after a few days.  How horrible to think of my kids being cold longer than they were.  (So happy our current home has a wood burning fireplace!)

Anyway, this was just the reminder I needed to re-double my Emergency Preparedness efforts!
We've ordered quite a bit from if you're looking for a place to start!

Sorry for the funky formatting--this came as an e-mail forward and I don't know the authors name or the source!  (Thanks Steph D.!)

Things that I learned from Hurricane Sandy

1. The excitement and coolness wears off around Day Three
 2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water etc. Never!
 3. Yes it can happen to you.
 4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean its producing electricity.
 5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble.      a. A couple of cases of bottled water is NOT water storage
 6. Should have as much fuel as water
     a. Propane
     b. Gas
     c. Kerosene
     d. Firewood
     e. Firestarter, (kindling, paper, etc)
 7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up.. (spark plug for the generator, BBQ lighter, etc)
 8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.
 9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
    a. 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
    b. I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.
 10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing)
 11. Stored water can taste nasty.
 12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold
 13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks
 14. Kids do not like washing their faces in cold water.
 15. Your 1972 honda civic gets to the grocery store as well as your 2012 Escalade… but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, fire wood, a backup water pump, you get the idea..
 16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
 17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape: a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, etc. Stock up on those too. You will need that comfort after Day Three.
 18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power 
                    you are the guy whose master’s degree in accounting suddenly means nothing. 
 19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.
 20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.
 21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it.
 22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
 23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.
 24. Your town, no matter how small is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
              a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else you could be without for a long time.
 25. In an emergency men stock up on food, women stock up on toilet paper.
 26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity!
 27. You can never have enough matches.
 28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be Bob the guy who shares on Day Three . . . not so easy on Day 11. Just reality.
 29. Give a man a fish he eats for that day, teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.. Now I get it.
 30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.
 31. Same goes for shoes… (Love you Honey!!!!)
 32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems,
 33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not available anymore.
 34. Quote “A man with a chainsaw who knows how to use it is a thing of beauty”
 35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to Wal-Mart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That's it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of PopTarts. That will be your neighbors' supply. (especially if you live outside of Utah)
 36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.
 37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if your kids are hungry.
 38. You really do not want to be unprepared parents -- the kids turn on you pretty quick.
 39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well it seems.
 40. Most things don’t take much power to operate.
      a. Computers,
      b. Phones
      c. Radios
      d. TV
      e. lights

 41. Some things take a ton of power to operate.
      a. Fridge
      b. Toaster
      c. Freezer
      d. Hot plate
      e. Microwave

 42. When it gets dark at 4:30pm the nights are really long without power.

 43. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make you
r home the semi warm place to come home to.. not the cold prison that you are stuck in.

 44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar.

 45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time.
      a. Fuel, of all kinds
      b. Matches, lighters of any kind etc.
      c. Toilet paper
      d. Paper plates, plastic forks and knives
      e. Batteries, didn’t really see a need for them. (flashlights??? I guess)
      f. Milk
      g. Charcoal
      h. Spark plugs (generators)
      i. 2 stroke motor oil, (chainsaws)
      j. Anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house.
      k. Extension cords
      l. Medicines (Tylenol, advil, cold medicine etc)

 46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm, and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.

 There were also many things that were not learned from hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support, especially my lovely wife, that my Heavenly Father really is in charge, period, and finally that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am .. Wherever that is…
God Bless!!!

Dec 18, 2012

Ode to My Third

I used the boys bathroom tonight.  This is something I never, ever do.  The only time I even set foot in that room is to scrub it from top to bottom before guests come.

And then I'm armed with powerful cleaning agents.

But I went in tonight.  I needed to use the facilities but didn't want to disturb Doug (yet) by going in our bathroom (pun not intended, but apt nonetheless)  then leaving again then going back in again.

So anyway, I "went" in the boys bathroom.  Because I had one last thing to do before going to sleep.  I needed to climb in bed with my third boy and give him a little mid-night love and cuddle.

Gabey is 5 years old.  He is in Kindergarten.  A few days ago I went to his Parent/Teacher Conference and learned he's doing very well.  (As expected.)  The teacher's only half criticism is that sometimes in his exuberance and happiness, he disturbs his neighbor.  BUT, she assured me, it's only because he wants to be everyone's friend.  "He's ALWAYS happy and ready to learn" she said.

Just as I suspected.

For a long time, we've called Gabey-boy, among other things, our little Angel Gabriel.  And he lives up to the name.  (Most of the time, though lets face it, he can be a little stinker/punk when he feels like it.)

But really, most of the time, he's a sweet kid.
He's happy.
He's friendly.
He's creative.
He's artistic.
He's inquisitive.
He's intelligent.
And he's pretty darn cute on top of it.

And tall.  The tallest kid in his class and a full (and large) head taller than many of his class-mates.

Oh!  Have I mentioned his lips?  When Gabe is tired or sad these adorable heart-wrenching sweet pouty lips come out of nowhere and make you want to give him anything and everything he wants just so he'll turn off the puppy-dog eyes and put away the lips before your heart breaks!!!

And then there is his dancing.  His DANCING.  When the music is on, and his shirt is off, the rhythm in Gabe can't be contained!!!  The moves just COME to him and he can't keep still!  He's like Doug Hastings dancing on the roof-top in "Strictly Ballroom" (one of the greatest movies ever--thanks Kristen Landerman for introducing it to Jenny and though Jenny, me.)  It's sort of amazing for me, the least coordinated person on the planet, to watch.

As soon as I climbed in bed with Gabey, he stirred and informed me he needed to go potty.  I helped him out of bed and in to the bathroom.  He stood at the potty and said "I'm having a weally good dweam Mama."  (Cause he calls me Mama and can't say his R's and 'cause he always has good dreams.)  I asked "What about?" but he couldn't remember.  Then he sleepily put the toilet seat down, flushed, and washed his hands and dried them on a hand towel.  All while barely awake.  What a good boy!  (Seems being half asleep can accomplish something being fully awake usually doesn't.)

I steered him back to his bed.  I tucked him in and climbed in after him.  I kissed the back of his sweet head and neck and told him I loved him.  I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him.

"I love you too Mama!"

And then he was sound asleep again.
And I was happy.
I waited a few more minutes and crept out.
Leaving my little angel to sleep.
Eternally grateful that tomorrow he'll wake up to another beautiful day.
Even if it means pee all over the toilet seat!

P.S.  I'm out of space to post more pictures.  I need to suck it up and just buy more space from Blogger.  But in the mean time, check out these posts to appreciate the adorableness that is Angel Gabriel.

Dec 5, 2012

Max is 11!

My sweet little Maxer is growing up!  He's 11 going on 20 and we're very proud of the neat kid he is.

A few of Max's favorite things:

*Reading.  He goes to bed reading and wakes up early to read some more before school.  We used to have him write down all the books he read.  But that took too much effort.  Needless to say, he reads a lot.
*Lego's.  He's a great builder and keeps his closet shelves filled with cool planes and buildings.
*Sweets.  He's got a sweet tooth like his Mama.
*Food.  Max was a very picky baby, but fortunately has grown out of most of his pickiness.  Some of his favorite foods are Pizza, Crepes, and Wonton Soup.
*Scouts.  He loves it and recently got his Arrow of Light.  (Which is a big deal or something?  I dunno.)
*Water.  He loves playing at the pool and at the beach.  Thinking of getting him surf lessons this summer.
*Sports.  Basketball is his current favorite.  Though he's also great at soccer and swimming.
*Me.  I don't think it's unreasonable to assume his mother is his favorite person in the world.  Do you?

A few of my favorite things about Max.
*Humor.  He's got a pretty great sense of humor.  He actually makes me laugh a lot with his witty observations.
*Vocabulary.  All that reading has given him a great vocabulary.  Those who've known me for a long time, know I love words.  I know some people find it pretentious, but I love it when he uses big words in context.  Cracks me up.
*Helpful.  Max is a great kid.  He used to be sooooooo mischievous as a toddler that people who've known him a long time can't believe what a responsible, helpful, polite kid he's turned into.
*Sweet.  He doesn't ALWAYS show it, but he really loves his brothers and takes good care of them.
*Thoughtful.  I don't worry too much about Max's future.  He's smart and thoughtful and tries to make good choices.  I hope he'll keep that up even during surly adolescence.

Love you Maxer!