Sunday, December 21, 2008


After months of planning and preparing and weeks of shopping and cleaning, I'd been anticipating 8:50pm on December 20 for so long. That was when Rob and Anita and their kids would be here. Lonica had helped me all day on Saturday to get ready. We were a bit nervous because of the storm that had hit the East coast but were optimistic they would all make it. Then at about 2:00pm we got a call from Anita telling us that they were sitting on the tarmac at JFK and there was no gate open for them to disembark at and she didn't think they would be able to get through customs and make their connecting flight.

A couple of hours later she called to say they would be spending the night in NY and were on the stand by list on a flight on Sunday but might not make it until Monday! We were all so disappointed. But heaven was smiling upon us and the six of them got on stand by today and we will be picking them up in just a couple of hours.

It will be so fun to combine Dutch and American traditions for Christmas. I'm sure this will be a Christmas that our families will always remember.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The count down has begun

For months I have been waiting to get ready for Christmas, planning what we will eat and do while my friend Anita and her family are here staying with us. I have been so excited and anxious for them to come. Preston has asked me if I think of anything else. Well, sometimes I do. So over Thanksgiving weekend I started getting some of my Christmas decorations up, bought a few gifts and was thinking I was doing pretty well.

Then yesterday it really hit me - I have two and a half weeks before they get here!! I still have more decorations to put up, lots more gifts to purchase, a bathroom to paint, towels and rugs to get, drapes to make, a house to clean, Christmas cards to send, presents to wrap, food to cook, and gifts to finish making. What have I been thinking? Needless to say I don't have time to blog!

Just a few more things I'm thankful for

Since it is the last day of November, I figured I should finish my blogs on things I'm thankful for and unfortunately, or maybe you think it is fortunate, I haven't been able to list anywhere near all the things I'm thankful for. So here are a few other things.

I'm thankful for a desire and love to learn and sense of curiosity that keeps me learning. I love to read about anything, study maps, watch educational shows, listen to NPR, learn a new craft, make something new, do logic or Sudko puzzles, or have great conversations with interesting people. Thanks mom for instilling a desire to learn in me.

I am so thankful for strawberries! I just love when spring comes and so does strawberry season. Ever since I was a little girl I have just loved those sweet, plump, juicy berries. I think more than half of all the birthday cakes I have ever had (and that is quite a few) have had some kind of strawberries on them or in them. I'm very lucky that my birthday is in the middle of strawberry season.

Is there anything better than clouds? I'm so thankful for those fluffy, billowy clumps of water vapor that give us something to look at in the sky. I'm thankful for the days I laid in the grass, on a deck or in a field and spent hours looking for shapes in them. I love to look out of an
airplane or car window and gaze at them and fanticize what it would be like to bounce on them. I'm thankful for the endless changes clouds bring to the sky.

Another thing I'm so thankful for is rain. I think that living in a place where we only get 7 inch of that precious liquid a year has helped. But is there anything more fun than playing in the rain when you were a kid? Or running to the car when the sky has opened up and you are drenched by the time you take two steps? I love having it wake me up in the middle of the night and the cloudy days that bring of promise of it. I especially am thankful for the wonderful smell that fills the air and the cleansing effect it has and of course the delight of seeing a rainbow afterwards.
I think I'm just thankful for anything that falls from the sky because I'm also thankful for snow. I really miss beening able to look out of my house to see snow on the ground. I loved waking up to the surprise of a few inches of snow and hearing that school was cancelled for the day. Snow makes the whole world slow down, become quiet, take a break, and play.

I am so thankful for the beauty it brings to the mountains and I thrill every time I go skiing and look and the beauty around me. I'm thankful to have shared so many delightful days skiing and playing in the snow with my children. Even when some of those days included be in a blizzard, it just added to the adventure and excitement of seeing snow.
At this time of year, I just want to remember all of the things I'm thankful for; a healthy body, many opportunities to have seen this beautiful world, friends who have helped me, cheered for me, set great examples for me and comforted me, family who has enriched my life and made it so wonderful and especially for a husband who is my best friend and still makes me laugh. I am truely blessed!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More things I'm thankful for...

I am so thankful for waterfalls!! I love them!! I have and would gladly walk miles and miles for the chance to see or play in a waterfall. God really created a thing of beauty when He created waterfalls. Here are a few of my favorite waterfalls.
Mt. Timpanogos, Utah
Another one on Timpanogos
Juno, Alaska
Waimea Canyon, Hawaii
And one of my favorite place in the world Havasupi, here are three of the falls there.
Mooney Falls
Navajo Falls
Havasupi Falls
The only thing I wish was that I was a better swimmer so I felt comfortable swimming in, behind and through the waterfalls. But I am contented just watching the never ending flow of water fall from above and glisten and dance on its way down to the bottom. I am thankful for the many places I have been able to travel and hike to to see these beautiful falls. Maybe some day I will make it to Victoria Falls!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm thankful for sunsets

Another thing I'm thankful for are sunsets. I love watching the sun go down and the sky change from light to pastel to darkness. There isn't anything more calming and peaceful than watching the sun go down, especially over a body of water. It does make you realize how fast this world really is spinning though.

Here are a few of my favorite sunsets. Of course, the ones I have pictures of are the ones when I'm on vacation. Luckily, I live in Arizona where spectacular sunsets are almost a daily occurance. Unfortunately, I don't take the time to look at them every day or take pictures of them.

The North SeaKauai

Hawaii Hawaii The Netherlands Aren't they beautiful?
I think they are God's way of telling us He loves us and yes, you made it through another day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Things I'm thankful for con't

I am really thankful for flowers. I love the variety there is, the colors, smells, sizes and the way they can take your breath away. I love seeing a whole field of them like I did in the Netherlands this summer or when the blue bonnets bloomed in Texas or when you are hiking in the spring and they just surprise you as you walk over a hill. I just love their color and contrast to the rest of the world.
I think my favorite are roses and I have worked for years in different houses to grow roses. I love the feel of their petals, the wide variety of colors and of course their smell.

My second favorite flower has to be pansies. Like Meg Ryan said in You've Got Mail, "I just think they are happy flowers." While she was talking about daisies, I think pansies are happy flowers, plus they are hardy. They can with stand a freeze and even some of our heat. I'm thankful for their bright colors and the contrast between their centers and the outer part of their petals. They never fail to make me happy when I look at them and they add beauty wherever they are planted.
I am thankful God created a never ending source of beauty in flowers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things I'm thankful for

We all know that the month of November is suppose to remind us of all we are thankful for, so I thought I would share some of the things I am thankful for. Now I could list health, family, friends, etc. and I am thankful for all those things, but I thought I would let you know of some of the little things that I love.
One thing I love and am very thankful for are Gala apples, especially crisp juicy ones. I love taking one in my lunch and biting into it and eating it while I visit with my friends. I love Gala apples because they are a little bit tart and a little bit sweet - just right. I love their crispness and I like the color varieties in them - from almost completely yellow with a few red stripes to almost completely red with a few yellow stripes. That apple just makes my day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Maybe Garth and I are getting old

You have to have an idea that you are getting old when:

Garth gets all the bills ready to mail and forgets to put stamps on them. Then I take them all to the mailbox and don't even notice they don't have stamps and mail them all.

I go out of my way to buy my mom a birthday card and then promptly forget all about it and don't send it.

Garth puts out the wrong garbage cans on trash day and neither of us notice until we come home that night. Our neighbors must really wonder about us.

Last weekend a friend calls and ask Garth to play golf. Terry books the tee time and takes Garth to an executive course in a retirement community and Garth can't even win on a bunch of par threes. But Terry left one golf shoe in the golf cart and didn't notice until they got home, at least Garth hasn't done that yet.

Finally, I take Garth's pants to the cleaners, fill out my information and proceed to walk out the door and get in my car. The cleaner had to chase me down to get the pants back because I had carried them to the car with me.

Yikes, I'm not even 50 yet, what will I be like in a couple more years! All of these only happened in the last week.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

To every season, turn, turn, turn...

The Byrds told and we all know that the seasons are suppose to turn or change, but this year I think we are in perpetual summer. I know that it is suppose to be fall. The calendar says it is fall and last night was Halloween, but we had little girls come trick-or-treating in skimpy strapless ballerina costumes and not even shiver.
I saw trees with their leaves changing three weeks ago in Ohio so why on November 1st did I have to turn my air conditioner on by 10:00 am? And by 3:00 the thermometer in my car read 92.

Every day I check the weather forecast for Phoenix hoping to see the temperatures drop. Every week the weather man plays to our sympathies and dangles hope in front of us that by the end of the week we will have highs in the 80's. But by the end of the week the forecast is revised and we are still in the 90's!

After seven months of blistering heat you would think we could have some cool weather in November! This is suppose to be the time of year where we get a reprieve from the heat and can gloat about our beautiful weather and be rewarded for living through another summer. It continues to make you wonder why we live in this desert.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where have all the years gone?

Years ago I used to get so excited to put up the Halloween decorations and always had them up by the first of October. This year I was considerably slower and it wasn't until I had gone to both of my girl's homes and seen their cute Halloween decorations that I decided I needed to get mine out.

Over the years I have amassed five tubs of Halloween decorations and costumes. And yes, I still have it all. After looking at the cute, classy decorations my girls had in their homes, most of the items in my five tubs looked a bit old and shabby. None of them could be classified as classy and most of them wouldn't be considered cute by anyone but me. Most of my decorations where purchased on sale at Drug Emporium (that tells you how old they are), made at homemaking meetings twenty years ago or by my elementary age children. I have a dried apple faced witch that Lonica made in girl scouts, five starched ghosts we made for family night, a paper mache pumpkin jar Preston made and this little mummy he wrapped years ago.
One summer when I had both my feet operated on, the kids and I sat and painted this Haunted House and all the little figurines that go with it. Needless to say, the paint job isn't the best but the kids got so excited every year when we would get it out. They would remember which parts they had painted and would carefully set it up as if it were a real work of art.
While none of my Halloween decorations would fetch even a quarter at a garage sale, they are priceless to me and I will keep all five of my tubs full of Halloween memories and let my kids go through them some day.
Here is one more memory of a year with a little ghost, a waitress, a mummy and a news reporter. When children are little it seems like the day will never come when they will be gone but it comes much faster than a mother could ever imagine.
P.S. Jason would never recommend anyone be a mummy for Halloween -it takes a long time to get wrapped, it's very difficult to run from house to house without your costume falling off and most important, it's very hard to go to the bathroom!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Cookies

After only one month of marriage, Garth and I had our first Halloween together. Trying to be a good homemaker, I made Halloween cookies and asked Garth to help me decorate them. You would have thought I'd ask him to build me the Taj Mahal! I didn't realize that all families didn't spend days making cut out cookies and decorating them every Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. It was one of my family's traditions that I loved.

After that first year of marriage I realized that decorating cookies would not be an entire family affair in our new family. So for the first few years I made and decorated cookies on my own; Garth was more than happy to help eat them though. As we started having kids they all joined in on making the dough, cutting out the cookies and of course, decorating and eating them.

Well, somewhere along the line, some of the enthusiasm for making cookies left me and I haven't made Halloween cookies for years. This year I decided that I needed to make some; one, because I feel bad that Preston misses out on so many of the traditions that we used to do when all the kids where home and two, because I just love to eat those cookies. So we decided that for Family Home Evening this week we would decorate cookies. I made the cookies and then, you guessed it, Preston and I decorated them. Garth did come and help eat them though.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The rest of our Ohio trip

Since Lonica is a much quicker blogger than I am and I don't know when I will get around to finishing the blog of our trip, you can check out her blog and read all about the rest of our stay in Ohio at: she has two posts about our trip.

I just thought I'd throw in a couple of other photos. This one is of the wonderful Sunday dinner that Lonica and Scott made. Hint: If you want to eat well go visit those two! We were glad that Candace came over for dinner and wished we had been able to see Dave but he was in San Antonio. This is the tree across the street from their apartment - just wish that was what I saw when I looked out my front window. I try to console myself with the fact that the leaves will change colors here in a couple more months and they will fall off and then new buds will appear the following week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October in Ohio

Fall break called us East to visit Lonica and Scott for a few days. While we loving going east we hate the fact that you loose an entire day traveling. So while Garth and I left the house at 6:00am we didn't arrive in Columbus until 4:30 and minus one piece of luggage. Garth got the rental car and I filed the missing bag claim and we met Lonica and Scott easily a little after 5:00 thanks to the fact the Columbus' airport is much smaller and easier to navigate than Phoenix's.

After Lonica's great dinner we went around "collecting" bikes from her friends so we could go on a bike ride Thursday morning. Scott had to work in the morning and Garth, Lonica and I had a beautiful bike ride through the neighborhood, down to the Olentangy River and to a lake. It was a crisp fall day with many of the leaves already changing. Garth and I were revealing in the cool weather and thrilled to experience a bit of fall.
Here is the lake
and here is the Olentangy River.
Lonica and I played on the banks of the lake and talked about all the places we want to go and visit while Garth talked on the phone trying to get through a crisis at work back in Phoenix. On the way back to their apartment we got a call telling us that Preston (who had stayed with Raquel and Dave in Mesa for a cross country meet) had missed his plane. He was supposed to arrive at 5:30 that evening but would have to wait until the 2:00 flight and wouldn't be in Columbus until 8:30. He would end up spending the entire first day of his break at Sky Harbor Airport because he didn't realize that his flight first had a stop in Omaha before Chicago. He had a great attitude about it and got all his homework done.
Scott met us back at the house and after lunch we went on a tour of the city. We had to stop and purchase our Ohio State shirts (we were going to the football game on Sat.) and we looked around OSU and the law school where Scott really lives. Then we drove around downtown and the capital.
It was a beautiful evening and we checked out all the statues to the soldiers of the Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI and to all the famous Ohioans who became Presidents (can you name any of the eight?), Generals or just other famous people.
We had to drop Lonica off at her night class and then Scott, Garth and I went to a great place for dinner. Preston finally made it to Ohio and after picking he and Lonica up, we headed to White Castle because Preston hadn't eaten most of the day and one of his requests while he was in Ohio was to go to White Castle. He got 10 White Castle "sliders" and shared two with Scott. Those of you who haven't had the pleasure of eatting at White Castle should know that their hamburgers can be eaten in one bite (as Preston and Scott can attest-they had a contest) and we all decided that they aren't made of real food.
After we all tried to stay awake and talk we decided to just go to bed beause we had a pretty busy schedule for the next couple of days.
The Presidents from Ohio were Hayes, both Harrisons (William and Benjamin), Grant, Garfield, McKinley, Taft and Harding.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Our 29th Anniversary

Twenty-nine years ago today, Garth and I got married. I had never been to Arizona in September and figured it would be cool by the end of the month, I was so young and naive. I had picked out a wool suit to wear that day and I thought I was going to roast to death. We were about to melt as we stood outside the temple that day, but we were in love and happy, and I didn't realize that 29 years later I would still be living here , waiting for the endless summer to be over.
Two days later we had our reception in Albuquerque, luckily it was much cooler there. While we didn't get to eat anything (all the food was gone by the time we got a chance to have any) it was very nice and we had lots of family and friends there. From Albuquerque we headed to Colorado Springs for our honeymoon. It wasn't the best place to go for a honeymoon and didn't have a very good time, mostly because of our lack of funds.
So for the the last 29 years we have been trying to make up for it. We decided long ago that we would forgo anniversary gifts and give ourselves a trip. We figured it was the best gift we could give to our children and ourselves, by keeping our marriage strong, we kept our family strong. So over the years we have gone to wonderful places sometimes with friends and family, sometimes for just a day and sometimes for over a week. Preston is the only one of our kids who has ever gone with us, because that is really a no no to take a kid on an anniversary trip, but he has gone twice, although he was so young I'm sure he doesn't remember either time.
Several time we have been to San Francisco and Sedona ,
and once to the Midwest (Illinois, Missouri),
and a couple of times to the South (Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee),
but our favorite area is the Northeast (NY, Mass, Rhode Island, Maine). We love the cool weather, old buildings, the seashore and lighthouses and of course the beautiful fall leaves.
Over the years, we have hiked, swam, ridden jet skis, snorkeled, biked, parisailed and walked our legs off.
We've spent time in big cities and small towns, on boats, subways, trains, trolleys, cruise ships, planes, buses and cars.
But the best thing has been being together and sharing time with each other, remembering why we love each other so much and chose to spend our lives together. Life can be hard and sometimes we let unimportant things get in the way of what is most important.
So once a year we get away and try to put our relationship back in proper perspective where it should be all the time - as the most important part of our lives. After 29 years I could have a drawer full of jewelry given to me as anniversary gifts, but instead I have a memory full of days and nights spent in wonderful places with the person I love most on this earth and I wouldn't trade one day for a diamond.
So you might ask where are we going this year? No where, we had a really great vacation last summer and got away by ourselves for a couple of days while we were there. But next year will be our 30th anniversary and I think we should do something really fun, don't you? Any suggestions?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not too much going on

Due to the request of my father-in-law and my most avid reader, who happen to be the same person, I'm updating our blog even though not too much has been going on in my life. Preston's life is a bit different though, so I will write about him. What will I do when he moves out?

A week ago Sunday we went to a Court of Honor where Preston received a Bronze Palm. For those of you who aren't career scouters, after a young man receives his Eagle he can continue to earn palms, the first of which is bronze after that they are silver. The boy must earn an additional 5 merit badges and has to wait 3 months between receiving them. They are a rarity in scouting because it takes about everything out of a scout and his family just to get his Eagle. Preston will probably receive three more palms by the time he turns 18. As Jason says Preston is the master scouter. I just hope his shirt will fit that long because I don't want to buy a new one and sew on all his patches again.
Steve Beck is Preston's leader and is one of the greatest blessings in our lives right now. He offers encouragement, is a great example and is lots of fun plus, the boys love and look up to him.
You can really tell Preston is getting into this forced hug!!
Last Saturday was Preston's second cross country meet. He wakes up at 5:00 am every morning, including Saturdays to run. Also, they run, lift weights or swim after school every day. He has to go to bed by 8:30 every night and watch what he eats to make sure he gets enough protein, calories, and carbs. This sport requires a lot from the participants, it's not one that kids do for fun. Here is he putting his shirt on in preparation for the J-V race last Saturday in Scottsdale.
With Dieter barking in the background, I was afraid one of the runners would mistake him for the gun but they all took off at once - just a mass of runners. There were teams from all over the valley and even one from New Mexico competing.
This is almost the end of the race and Preston has dropped back quite a bit. Afterwards he told us that going up a hill, he was too close to the guy in front of him and got kicked right where it counts. He said he was just lucky to be able to finish the race at all. That's my kid - Toro Tough!
Here he is rehydrating after the race with his friends. Mountain View ended up winning the meet. Go Toros!
This week has held a couple of changes for me. First, I started taking online classes again to get my teaching certificate. I had started last year and quit because I hated the non interaction you get with a computer. But I decided to just tough it out and finish so I can teach. And the class I'm taking right now is really interesting. It will probably take me two years to finish everything and maybe even longer if I keep blogging. Second, I cut off all my hair. I always seem to do that at the end of the summer. It is as though I'm just too sick of the heat and think if I cut off my hair it will help and it does. At least I didn't shave it like Pedro. But with the hope of cooler weather on the horizon you would think I would keep my hair longer until after winter. Well actually, my hair never is very long and we don't really have winter.