Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Just to let you know, in case you were wondering. Garth's back is doing well. In fact he has gone golfing twice so I think the healing is complete. The physical therapist has given him some exercises that he will have to do probably the rest of his life but since he already exercises religiously, adding a few new ones to his routine won't be a problem.

Garth's dad had a pacemaker but in and then came home to stay with us for a week. He and Colleen went home yesterday and we hope and pray that he continues to regain his strength.

I have one more preparation hike tomorrow before we leave for the Grand Canyon on Friday. I know Raquel will make it easily but I will probably need all your good thoughts and wishes. I'll let you know how I did.

Our biggest news is that we found out that Jason will be coming home on June 18! That means only 22 more days until I see my son again!!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting Ready

About a month ago, a friend invited me on Grand Canyon hike. Garth and Preston will be on Preston's super activity and the Canyon is always calling me back, so of course I accepted. Since then I have frantically been trying to get in shape, I know it is in vain because I don't think anything can really prepare you to hike that place. In addition, I have also had the challenge of getting new hiking boots - that has almost been harder than getting in shape.

Well, every Saturday I've been hiking Camelback Mountain in preparation. The first week I didn't do so well and was sore for four days afterwards. Since then I haven't been sore but I'm definitely not fast. Last week Raquel decided that she wanted to go to the Canyon as well which thrilled me, but I told her that she need to go hiking with me.

Since school was out and it was rainy and overcast on Friday we decided to go then. It is about 1/2 mile from where you park the car to the trail head and you can see Raquel heading up the street. There are huge, gorgeous homes all along the street and about the only ones in Arizona that haven't lost their value. The small hump in the background is the first hill but not the top of Camelback.
A cloudy view of the Valley from about half way up.
Here is Raquel sitting at the top, she wanted to quit before we got to the top but I wouldn't let her. Ever since I didn't go to the top of the sand dunes on a hike in Colorado one time with my boys, I always go to the top.

We had sprinkles fall on us most of the time and there was a nice breeze but it was hot and we decided that it felt like being back in Texas with all the humidity. You can see that Raquel's hair in all wet.

I was surprised to see that the saguaros were already in bloom. They usually don't bloom until the first of June but we have had the hottest May on record so I guess they are early this year.

I choose the Cholla Trail up Camelback because it is steep and thought it was about the best preparation I could get. I had planned on doing it several times in one day but that hasn't happened yet. With only 5 days left it probably won't.

We won't be hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, just doing a really big loop trail all in one day. It will be almost 14 miles -about 4 miles down, 4 miles across and 4 miles up. Luckily we will stop at Indian Gardens for lunch and to rest and replenish our water. I can't wait to get up there Friday.

On Saturday, keep us in your thoughts and prayers, I'm sure I will need all the positive energy I can get to make it. We figure it will probably take us 8 to 9 hours. In spite of that, the Canyon is one of my most favorite places on Earth and it draws my heart back there and I can't wait to get back into it. I don't think Raquel will have any problem on the hike - she ran the 1/2 back to the car when we were coming down. I just hope I don't hold her back too much.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Most Avid Reader

I have one person who reads my blog religiously, he never makes a comment on it, but I always get a phone call comment. I hear "you really made me laugh," "when are you going to write a new blog?" "I can't believe all the things you are doing," or my favorite "you really are a good writer" (I'll take all the compliments I can get). This reader is my father-in-law, Ralph. As you can see by the photo, he isn't in the best of health and in fact about 5 years ago he was air lifted down here and things didn't look too good for him, but he is definitely a fighter.
A year ago last January my mother-in-law was air lifted down here and things didn't look too good for her either. She was in ICU for over a month and then in hospitals or rehab facilities for another two months and during those three months, I had the privilege to have Ralph stay at my house and take him to the hospital each day.

We got our routine down, 20 minutes to downtown Phoenix (thank heavens for car pool lanes), drop Ralph at the door, he got his wheelchair, I parked the car, I pushed him up to ICU and we checked to see how Colleen was doing that day. Later, we'd go downstairs for lunch (gotta love that hospital food), go back up and visit some more and then I pushed him backed downstairs, went and got the car picked him up and we headed home.

During that time I got to know Ralph much better. I saw him worry over his wife of almost 60 years, patting her hand telling her everything would be alright; reassuring himself as much as her I think. We thrilled over every bit of good news together and worried when things did go well. We laughed when Colleen (due to drugs and lack of sleep) told us she was going to Montana or that the Chinese grandma came visiting or that she spent the night freezing in the fairgrounds parking lot. We cowered when she pointed and shook her finger at us and were puzzled when we couldn't make out her handwriting (she was on a respirator for several weeks and had a tracheotomy and couldn't talk). Although it was a very stressful time, I received great blessings by being with Ralph every day.

Before my father-in-law got sick he was an extremely hard worker and it nearly killed him to watch us work and not be able to help, so we found jobs for him. I would pick oranges and drop them on the ground and Ralph would go around picking them up - that was quite a big chore for him. He loved to juice them and that was an intense workout. But his hardest job was to walk down to the corner and back each day in 6 minutes. I don't know that he ever made that one.

In February, Preston decided that he would trim our neighbors' trees that came over on to our property and Ralph was right there supervising the whole time. Once Preston learned to listen to him the tree trimming went much easier. He didn't have to put in near as much effort to get the job done if he followed Ralph's directions - experience really does make a difference.
While he was here last year I also took him to doctors and dentists and teased him about what a baby he is. I couldn't tell him when his appointments were until that day because he would get himself all worked up. He listened to me ramble on for hours - I had a captive audience. I complained, explained, cried, worried about my kids and my family, dreamed about vacations and he got to see just how weird I am. The nicest thing is is that he still seems to like me!

After three months my mother-in-law was finally able to go home and since then Ralph has called me at least every week, sometimes daily - just to talk to me. Of course he would comment about my blog and ask how everything was but Garth gets a bit jealous because Ralph calls me more than he does him.

Well, last Tuesday he was air lifted down here again (my in-laws like to make it a big deal when they come down I guess) and once again things didn't look to good. He was in ICU for 4 days until they figured out what was wrong with him this time. It seems that his heart is beating irregularly and he will have surgery tomorrow to fix that. The doctor's say everything should be fine; there will be two very simple invasive surgeries and he should go home on Tuesday. We are sure praying for that.

At the end of June Ralph has two boys coming home from their missions. Kyle has been in Oklahoma and Jason, my son has been in Colombia. I know they are both very anxious to see their grandpa just as he is anxious to see them.
Indeed I feel very blessed to have married into a great family and to have a father-in-law who I know I could always turn to for anything and at any time. He has been a blessing in my life thus far and I pray for many more years to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lastest from Jason

This week Jason sent us a great picture of himself over looking Bogota. He also said that he will be home June 23 or 24. That means 47 or 48 days to go! That is one thing I've grown to love (do you hear the sarcasm) about just getting emails from him - he is always vague. I just hope we get an actual date and time so we will be at the airport when he comes in.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Random thoughts

Well, life has been over the top, too crazy, too busy, in the fast lane, hectic, etc. and will get even worse as the month goes on. I only have one class period left and I'll be done with my class (yea!) but I'm now in charge of Cub Scout day camp at the beginning of June (boo!). I have to declare a winner to my free give away (congrats Aselin) and thank most of my small readership for not taking my offer and forcing me to make some gift for you (the idea probably scared you away). It was one less thing I have to stress over. Right now I have an essay and day camp that are doing a pretty good job.

As the temperature rises, my energy level decreases as does my desire to do much. I feel like living in the desert should bring some rewards like taking the summer off, since it is just too hot to go outside, clean, fix food, wash or move from under the fan. Unfortunately that isn't the way it works, so I try to accomplish as much as I can before the heat overwhelms me (which is usually the end of June). Oh how, I wish I was spending the month of July in Europe again (Anita, don't you need me?). But July 1 my son, Jason, will be coming home from Colombia and that will be so great to have him home again. Here is one of the few and most recent pictures we have gotten from him (Jason is the one with the lopsided hair). He is looking pretty thin so I'm afraid I'm going to have to cook it JULY!

61 days and counting!