Thursday, December 17, 2009

Look who's here for Christmas

Last Tuesday night the little girl Garth and I have been waiting to see, made it to our house to spend a couple of weeks with us. Amelia was as thrilled to see us as we were to see her and she has given us lots of smiles to let us know how happy she is to be here.
We are thrilled to see Amelia's chubby little face around our house and we are glad to have those other two that she brought with her - Lonica and Scott, too. Although we do have to split awake time with them - dang!

Jason will be home this weekend and our family will be complete. Bring Christmas on! Oh, wait - I'm not ready yet. I'm glad we have another week.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How the time flies

Twenty five years ago, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, I went to the doctor and he told me my baby was ready to come and could be born at any time. The stars were aligned, my body was ready and so when my family came from Utah and New Mexico for Thanksgiving, my mother was certain that she would have a new grandchild before she left to return home. Well, we all waited and waited and waited, everyone was ready but the baby. Finally on December 12, I decided I'd had enough of this waiting stuff and so I walked, vacuumed and cleaned all day. Early on the morning of the 13th, Garth and I headed to the hospital. Of course when we got there my contractions stopped, but I was ready to have the baby and they didn't dare send me home. We were told to go walk around the hospital. It was probably 4:00am and it was cold, (the next day was the first time since I had moved to Phoenix that I would see snow on the Superstition Mountains) and we were both tired. After making one trip around the empty, cold corridors, Garth found a couch and told me to wake him after each trip around - my pillar of support!

After a few more laps, the nurses checked me and broke my water. 40 minutes later, Garth and I had a brand little girl with tons of hair. We kind of wondered if she was an Indian baby because she had so much hair that wouldn't lie down, just like most Indian baby's. The next day I sat in the hospital, going though our name book looking for a name that would fit our beautiful little girl and I came across Raquel. It just seemed to fit this newest gift from heaven and so we had our little Raquel Millie that would join her big sister, Lonica, and make our family a foursome. I think the Lord new I needed a good baby since I already had one that was only 15 months old, so he sent me Raquel. For the first year, we couldn't have had a better baby than her. She loved to cuddle and be held and you could always make her happy if you just held her.

When she turned one though things began to change. Raquel came to life and from that moment on we always knew she was around. She was full of life and excited about everything. She made up her own mind and would let you know if she wasn't happy about something or squeal with delight if she was. She seemed to always have a smile on her face and loved her babies, stuffed animals, food, her Daddy and especially her big sister. She was full of life and you could see it in her eyes. She loved to sing and dance and perform and talk and talk and talk. When she was 3, her voice went hoarse and it never got better, after a couple of months I took her to a doctor who asked if she was a loud child. I said, you could say that. Apparently, Raquel had damaged her vocal cords from being so loud and I was told to keep her quiet for 6 months and they should get better! Luckily they did, but I'm still amazed that they ever healed, I certainly wasn't able to keep her quiet. Raquel loved life and she wanted to share that with everyone.

When she started kindergarten, she also started playing soccer which would consume her life for the next 12 years at least. Raquel loved running and she was fast and could beat most of the other players and was a delight to watch. When we moved to Texas all the girls' teams were full so Raquel played on a boys' team for the next two years. Although the boys helped her to develop a killer instinct, she could still out run all of them and there was nothing Garth and I enjoyed more than to watch Raquel whip by some boy and out maneuver him. That was our little princess!! Raquel decided in 1st grade that she really wanted glasses and found this lovely pair, bought them and proceeded to wear them all the time. Her school teacher thought they were real, as did everyone else and she loved that. No one loved holidays more than Raquel, especially Halloween. She started thinking about what she was going to be for the next year as soon as Halloween was over and she came up with some great ideas. Over the years she was the Mr. Peanut man, Van Gough, a reporter, Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, and Jackie Joyner just to name a few. The only one she wanted to be that I could never figure out a costume for was the Pillsbury Doughboy.
As Raquel grew so did her love for the Lord, for life and for her family. She was never as happy as when the family was all together and playing games.

She worked hard in school and in everything she ever did. We watched her play the piano and the saxophone, run track, play soccer and softball, become an editor for the yearbook, coach a YMCA soccer team, participate in countless service projects, become a swimming instructor, enjoy crazy dates with boys and laugh and eat with her best friends. If Raquel was around, you were having fun. After graduating she went to Northern Arizona University and continued to love life, work hard, make new friends and grow into a beautiful young woman who fell in love with Dave. She still loves holidays, is crazy and is so much fun to be around. In deed, she has magnified the gifts and talents she has and developed others. She is now our cake decorating expert, is learning to sew, is amazing at teaching children to swim, is working on becoming a physical therapist assistant, continues to use her graphic design skills and of course still has her sensitive heart and concern for others. Last summer she even indulged me and hiked 14 miles in the Grand Canyon with me in one day. I know it was hard for her but she never complained even when we were being pelted with rain, were soaking wet and were freezing cold. For the last 25 years I have been able to love and enjoy Raquel and watch her grow. I have loved being her mother and can't wait to see what the future holds for her. She has blessed my life in countless ways.

Happy birthday and I hope you always know how special you are to me.

Love, Mom

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twinkle Toes

Last spring, while my son was still on his mission, I had to register him for school for this fall. I spent days calling and talking to a counselor, planning his schedule and trying to guess just what career path he would take. In the middle of all this a mother of one of his friend's, who was going through the same process, called and asked what I registered Jason for. She proceeded to talk me into registering Jason for beginning ballroom dancing with her son.

When Jason found out he was registered for ballroom dancing there was no note of excitement in his voice; in fact, I think it was disbelief and disgust. I explained that it was a great way to meet girls and that he would have a friend to suffer though it with, and besides if it was really that bad he could drop it.

Well, school started and I would inquire occassionally how the dance class was going and I always received the same reply, "It's okay." Those of you who know my son know that's about all a reply I can expect from him.

Then a couple of weeks ago the relpy to my usual question about the dance class was, "It's pretty fun." Imagine that - three words and with emotion!

I also found out that Jason's friend had dropped the class the second week of school and Jason had continued to dance by himself (well actually he did have a female partner, that was "pretty cute"). I was amazed that my 'macho' son seemed to be liking and was sticking with ballroom dancing.

A week ago Jason told me that his teacher had told him the he "a lot of potential" and Jason seemed really pleased. (What was happening to the son I knew? Could he actually be enjoying something as cultural as ballroom dancing?)

It all came to a head last Saturday when I made my usual call to check in on him and found out he had missed a coveted intermural flag football game, that was a play off game, to attend a dance competition! He and his partner had made it through all the morning rounds and had to go back that night to finish the competition. He was excited and I guess he must be pretty good to make it that far - right?

Later that night Jason and his partner made it to the quarter finals before being eliminated. In other words, they made it down to be one of the last 12 couples out of about 100.

Kids never cease to astound you. You think you have them figured out and then out of the blue they like ballroom dancing and do well in a dance competition and actually enjoy it.

So when Jason was registering for classes next semester I asked him if he was going to take the next ballroom dance class. He said no, he was good, but he really would like to learn how to country western dance! As long as we have kids, wonders will never cease.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Glimmers of Hope

I have always tried to instill in my children a desire to give service and to enjoy it. When I woke them up early years ago to help pick corn at our church's welfare farm they didn't seem to happy but they went. When my kitchen was a disaster and I was trying to prepare a dinner for an elderly couple, they helped me clean, cook and carry and they did it pleasantly. As I hauled my boys to the Humanitarian Aid Center for hours every summer to iron, sew, pack, bag, clean, haul and do whatever they asked, they did it without complaint. But as a mother you always wonder if they are really internalizing what you teach or are they just obedient and want to avoid your wrath.

Last night I had a glimmer of hope that maybe this one teaching was sinking into my 17 year old. My husband is in charge putting up some of the tens of thousands of Christmas lights that adorn our temple each Christmas season. He had informed us several weeks ago that he had a large group coming to help and he needed Preston and I to help, too.

As Preston and I drove down to help, Preston remembered that he was supposed to check and make sure his group of boys had a service activity for their weekly meeting tonight. He called his adult advisor to see what he needed to do. Preston was told that since his whole youth group would be putting together gift bags for the city of Tempe on Saturday and five of the boys would be setting up flags for Veteran's Day today, that that was enough service for this week and they would do something else for their activity tonight.

My son hung up the phone, explained the situation to me and said, "Can you do too much service?"

He then proceeded to spend the next four hours hauling boxes of lights, running extension cords and sitting at the top of an orange tree stinging light around it and I never heard a complaint or a whine. At this time of year when we turn our thoughts to the things we are thankful for, I am thankful that maybe, just maybe, one thing I hoped to instill in my son has taken root. And I hope he continues to see the value and joy in service though out his life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quality Time with my son

This week Preston and I spent some fun quality time together. A month or more ago Preston pointed out to me the The Phantom of the Opera was coming back to Phoenix. (I had promised him I would take him when it came back - dang his good memory!) So a couple of weeks ago I noticed that there was a Thursday matinee with tickets almost half price and there was still good seats. I decided that Preston could miss his last two classes of the day and we could go, besides I love Phantom so he didn't have to do too much talking.
When I went to Gammage to purchase the tickets they told me it was cheap because there was no parking on campus because school was in session. I next decided that he would have to miss all his afternoon classes so we would have time to walk from wherever we could find to park. Then I remembered Phoenix's move into mass transit and we decided to ride the light rail into Tempe and walk across campus. After having ridden mass transit in most large American cities and a few in Europe and Japan, I feel as though I'm pretty experienced and a fairly good critic.

So last Thursday, I picked Preston up and we headed to the park and ride lot, bought our tickets and climbed aboard the clean new train. Needless to say we were very impressed and we got to Gammage about an hour early - it was much faster than I had anticipated. We both felt that Phoenix has moved to the big time with their light rail - just too bad it isn't underground and much bigger.

We had a great time at the play with the bus loads of old people that came in from all over the valley, but what do you expect who else can take off in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day to see a play? Preston loved the music and we hummed it all the way back across campus and on the light rail home.

Then yesterday we had to carve our pumpkins for Halloween. We usually go all out on the pumpkin carving but both of us were feeling a bit pressed for time so we opted for easy designs.
Here is Preston's trick-or-treater pumpkin
and my witch.
I don't know what I will do when I no longer have a kid to hang out with and especially one as great as Preston.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ohio Trip part 2 - Hocking Hills

On Columbus Day, we waited for Scott to get out of class and we drove to Hocking Hills State Park. It was about 1 1/2 hours from Lonica and Scott's and Preston, Lonica, Amelia and her car seat and I all squished into the back seat for the ride. Good thing we all love each other.

At Hocking Hills there are lots of different hikes that lead to water falls, caves, canyons, or lookout vistas. We chose a couple of hikes we wanted to take and then had to get ready. Any time you take a baby anywhere you know how long it takes before you actually leave.
You can see the excitement on Preston's face, he just can't wait to go!
Amelia is excited to go on her first hike.
The fall colors were just about at their peak and we had some beautiful views. Our first hike we took was to Old Man's cave and we were thinking of Arizona hiking. We weren't prepared for Ohio hiking; the 'hike' took us about 10 minutes to get there and was paved the whole way.
Here is Scott, Lonica and Amelia in the 'cave' which was actually just an overhang. We could have done the whole 6 mile loop but decided not too. Preston and I had to go check out the old stone bridge though. We are the little specks on the bridge.
From there we decided to do the 'hardest' hike in the park but that offered the best views of the fall leaves. We found that is definitely wasn't hard but it did offer great views.
The weather was perfect and we had a great time wandering around in the forest. At least this time the trail wan't paved.

Scott had Preston walk along this log to get some cool looking pictures.
And here he is 'flying' off.
On the way home we stopped by this little dive deli that Scott had seen on TV. They had a Dagwood (from the comic strip) challenge. You had 30 minutes to eat a pound of fries and a sandwich with turkey, ham and roast beef, lettus, cheese, onions and a large bun. It looked as though there was a pound of each of the meats. For doing all this, you got your picture on the wall and a tee-shirt. The record was eating it all in 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Preston and Scott were up for the challenge.
Look at these optimistic faces.
Scott was winding down after about 20 minutes. He did a good job on the fries and made it about 1/2 through the second half of the sandwich.
This face says it all - they were defeated by the Dagwood.
Needless to say, we didn't have dessert or win a tee-shirt and no one's face is on the wall of the Ohio Deli and Restaurant from our family.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ohio Trip part 1 - Amelia's blessing

We had a very auspicious start to our Ohio trip when Southwest Airlines was looking for someone to give up their seat to Chicago and would pay them $200. Unfortunately, I had booked our tickets late and we couldn't use our free tickets on the nonstop flight to Columbus so we were leaving 20 mintues later than the nonstop but arriving 2 1/2 hours later after changing planes in Chicago. When I heard the announcement my mind starting working and after they asked several more times I went up and offered one of our tickets if they could move the person to the nonstop flight that was leaving in just a few minutes. Scott's parents were on that flight and I thought we could send Preston with them and Garth and I would fly on our original one. When the gate agent found out we had three flying together she said she would try and move us all but could only give $200 for one seat. At this point I didn't care about getting any money if we could all get on the nonstop flight. As luck would have it we all made it on the nonstop one but our luggage did not, it had to go to Chicago, but it didn't complain much.

We picked up our rental car (the guys all loved it - a fire red Dodge Charger) and followed Scott to their house. Here are some pictures of everyone meeting Amelia - the reason for all the traveling.
Garth thinks she is 'pretty special' and told her that over and over while we were there.
Uncle Preston wasn't too sure what do with a baby and thought she was pretty worthless - 17 year old. He did warm up to her and feel more comfortable holding her after a few days.
Here she is with her Rowley grandparents, Robin and Paul.
And here she is with her grandmas. Since the Rowleys were only going to be there until Monday morning, we let them do most of the holding, we would have plenty of days to spoil her.

Sunday moring we had to leave bright and early, church was a 20 minute drive and it started at 9:00 am. All of you know how hard that is to do when you have a new baby, but we made it. Once we got to church we changed Amelia into her dress (it wasn't too conducive to riding in a car seat) and I was so happy to see that it fit (I guess we should have done that the night before). She wasn't too excited and promptly fell asleep. She slept the whole meeting expect for during her blessing. She woke up just before, was wide eyed all during it and then went back to sleep as soon as it was over. Scott did a great job and we hope she will live up to the blessing she received.
Here are a few pictures of Amelia in her dress. I had carried the dress on the plane with me and I had so many women come up and ask to see it. I was glad that it turned out well and was finished. I barely got it done Friday night before we left Saturday morning.

Grandma Honey (Robin) had crocheted Amelia's booties and they fit perfectly.
After church we did a 'family photo shoot' in front of the temple. The Colombus temple is just across the parking lot from Lonica and Scott's building, so we didn't have to go far. The day was sunny but it was a bit cool, especially if you had just come from Arizona where it was in the 90's.
The new little family
Our whole group
That afternoon Lonica and Scott had a bunch of friends over to celebrate and it was fun to meet them and of course to eat all the wonderful food Scott and Lonica had made. They are quite the chiefs. I get parinoid now when I have to cook for them.
Even in Lonica and Scott's little house they were able to fit quite a few people and their kids. It had been a great day and I was glad we were going to be staying most of the week.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Crazy Porters

Last weekend Christine's (my sister) kids come down for a quick visit. You could tell they weren't Arizonans because they wanted to swim in our pool. Everyone in Arizona knows that even though the sun may shine, unless you have a heated pool you don't get in it after Labor Day. Most valley residents won't put a toe in a pool if the water temperature is under 80 degrees, me included. We are cold blooded creatures!

At any rate I tried to deter my nephews from entering the pool, and they told me they would wait until the day heated up. As I was folding clothes at 9:30 am (in preparation for our trip to Ohio) I heard splashes in the pool and went to investigate. I found Ross trying to not get wet on the pool mat (he did manage to keep his head from getting wet).
And I found Shawn shivering on the side, he had gone under twice and has 0% body fat
to help keep him warm. They continued to 'play' in the pool for a few minutes, but I guess even New Mexicans like their pool water a bit warmer!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Last weekend was Homecoming and Preston went with Christina. She had asked him to Sadies last spring and they hung out most of the summer and here she is again. She is a cute, smart and fun girl.
Here is his whole group that went to the mud caves the week before for their day activity and then to Rustler's Roost for dinner. Check out the girl in her tennis shoes. She had on black ones and her date had on white ones.
Preston had a great time but wished he hadn't been so quick to say he would bring Christina home a midnight when he was asked what time she would be home. Next time he decided he will ask the girl's parents what time they want her home. Since he had told her parents midnight, they had to forgo all the after dance activities. Both of them where bummed but they had a good time the rest of the night.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's almost done

Well, after some frustrating work today I almost have Amelia's dress done. I had to resew the skirt to the bodice about a hundred times, but I finally got it on right.
Now all I have left is some hand sewing on the lining and I have to figure out how I want to close it - with buttons, snaps or Velcro. I'm leaning towards buttons if I can find some I like.
My sister thinks I need to embroider Amelia's initials on the end of one of the sashes. What do you think? After all, now all I have left to do before we leave on Saturday is finish the Anne Bradstreet essay that I keep putting off and read Emerson's Nature and Self Reliance and do the homework question. The joys of being a student!