Wednesday, November 5, 2008

She Owns the Part

As anyone who knows me can attest to, I have very limited musical tastes. I acquired them in high school, and really nothing much has changed since then. And, also as anyone who knows me can attest to, I am pretty obsessive about things I like.

My kids really had no choice but to like Def Leppard, Oingo Boingo and Journey. And since Danny Elfman moved from singing with Oingo Boingo to writing movie soundtracks, my kids are well acquainted with those ventures as well. Ask my kids what movie soundtracks Danny Elfman has written, and they will be able to list nearly all of them (Rhys is really only well-versed in recent work such as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Spiderman").

In 1993, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was released. Directed by my favorite director Tim Burton (then, as well as now), I thought this was a simply amazing piece of work. The animation was spectacular, the comedy a nice shade of dark and the music....well, the music was awesome. The whole score was written by Danny Elfman, and he was the singing voice of Jack, the main character, as well. For a Danny Elfman fan, this movie was like a slice of heaven.

Quite inappropriately, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was one of the first movies Sawyer ever saw. (She saw it soon after the Star Wars Trilogy.) And while the Star Wars movies didn't spark her fancy as much as I would have liked, she absolutely loved "Nightmare." She was able to sing all the songs and recite dialogue at the very young age of four. And this movie has been a staple in her collection of favorites, even as she starts to develop her own lists of obsessions. She also loves all things Danny Elfman, and sometimes it is this common obsession that gets us through some of those inevitable rocky patches.

This year, in her chorus class, they are singing songs from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"! I mean, seriously, how awesome is that? She and I were both so excited that other people thought that movie and music was as cool as we did. Auditions were held in all the chorus classes for the "Jack" solos (the Danny Elfman part from the movie). With no hesitation, Sawyer auditioned for these solos. This music is a part of her, it was natural for her to get up in front of everyone and belt it out.

There was a lot of competition for these solos; but Sawyer got the part hands down. Her teacher told her, "You owned the part, no one else had the same passion."

I can't wait to watch Sawyer perform these songs. She has been practicing relentlessly, and she does own the part. But quite frankly, she has owned the part since she was four.


Volleyball - Who Knew?

My girls are not big on sports. Not at all. I am certain it is not because every time a sporting event is on TV, or José starts talking about sports, my eyes roll back into my head and I go into a coma. I am sure they don't like sports because sports are boring and tedious. And I am sure this is their opinion all on their own, and I have no influence whatsoever.

I do, however, see the value of participating in sports as a child. You learn a skill, you learn to be a part of a team, you learn to be a gracious loser as well as a gracious winner (one hopes). And sports can be a place where friends are made and fun is had.

When the girls were very young, they played Little League Baseball. And they HATED it. The coaches they had weren't very good, and they had little patience with children who had little experience in the game. And at ages 4 and 7, there is not a whole lot of experience to be had. We made the girls finish the season, but the experience soured them on sports. Which is a huge bummer.

When Rhys came of age, we had learned our lesson. José is either a coach or an assistant coach on every team for which Rhys has played. Rhys loves his sports.

This summer, I got an email from my good friend Amy, asking me if Kellan would be interested in playing volleyball in a league at her school. Yeah, right, I thought. But I decided to ask her; some of her friends were planning on playing, maybe she might want to join them.

Imagine my surprise when she gave me a hesitant "Yes." The league offered an all day volleyball clinic for players new to the game, so I signed her up. I told her (and myself) that if she didn't like it, I wouldn't make her start the league.

Well, she walked out of that clinic pumped up. She was so happy and excited. "Volleyball is sooo much fun!" she gushed. Color me shocked. She has been playing now for about 6 weeks. She practices twice a week and plays three games every Saturday. And her enthusiasm has not dampened one bit. Whenever she has a spare minute, she is outside working on her serves and bumps. An interesting twist is that her coach is not all that great, but she is having so much fun that it doesn't matter.

Amy is now organizing a winter volleyball team (with a new, more experienced coach), and Kellan is so happy she will be able to keep playing. I have to say I am amazed. I have never, ever liked sports. But José claims this new love of volleyball is in her genes, his family played as a team for years. Regardless of where the passion comes from, I am simply thrilled that it is there.

Go Kellan!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Who is Cooper Voting For?

Durstion called me with this story...

Grace came home with homework that included voting for the next president. As she, Durstion and Cooper were discussing each candidate, Grace announced that she was going to vote for John McCain.

At this point Durstion turned to Cooper and asked him who he was voting for. He answered, "I am going to vote for You Rock You Mama, I like that guy."



Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Silent Q

Weekday afternoons in our house are spent around the kitchen table, getting homework done. I have found that if the kids are in my eyesight doing homework, the homework seems to get done in a more timely manner. If the kids are in their rooms, there is the lure of the TV ("Mom, the TV helps me concentrate"), the lure of the toys (Mom, I just needed to get this castle built!") and the lure of the text message ("Mom, Becki is just so depressed that John didn't talk to her today, I need to reassure her")

If everyone is in the kitchen, I can control the environment (no TVs, blocks or cell phones, or anything else), I am available to help if a problem arises, and I also know exactly what each one of them is doing in school. Although my kids will disagree, I think this current strategy is a good one.

Abby is with us every afternoon, and until last week, being in kindergarten, never had homework. I never make her sit at the kitchen table with everyone else, but she isn't allowed to watch TV or be on the computer, because it would distract everyone else. While this sounds harsh, I wanted to have the afternoon environment in our house conducive to homework, and I knew that Abby would eventually have homework too.

But, Abby, always the good sport, joins everyone else at the table and keeps herself occupied. She colors, looks at books, and lately, has been writing. She has discovered the joy of creating words. It is always so cool to see when a child figures out that all those letters, when put together just right, can create words, and those words create stories. She and Grace have been making books for the last couple of weeks. They will take several sheets of paper, staple them together, draw pictures on each page, and then come up with words to match the illustrations. It is really awesome to see.

One day last week, Rhys and Abby were sitting at the kitchen table, he was doing his homework, she was working on a book. (Kellan was at volleyball practice and Sawyer wasn't home from school yet). Abby is plugging away, pausing every now and again to ask Rhys how to spell a word. Then she asked him how to spell his name. To which he replied...

"Well, my name is kind of different. Have you heard of the Silent E?"

Abby: "Of course, the Silent E makes vowels say their names"

Rhys: "My name has a Silent Q. It is similar to the Silent E because you don't say it, but it is still there. You spell my name Q-R-H-Y-S"

Abby: Dutifully writes down each letter as he says it.

Rhys: "Now, it looks like my name is pronounced "kwareese", but it is just Rhys, you don't say the Q"

Abby goes on to finsh her book about Rhys, with everytime his name is mentioned, and it was several times, it was spelled "Qrhys".

Me: "Why did you tell her your name had a Silent Q?"

Rhys: "I don't know, I will tell her the real spelling in a few days."

Yesterday, we had a similar scenario. The two of them were sitting at the table, he was doing his homework, and she hers - she now has homework. Suddenly he looks up and says..

"Abby, my name doesn't really have a Silent Q."

Abby: "I know, because everywhere your name is spelled in this house, there is no Q, I figured you were joking with me."

Rhys: "I was, sorry. But I do need to tell you that you have been spelling Sawyer wrong. Her name has a Silent L. You spell it L-S-A-W-Y-E-R."

I am sure Abby will figure that one out, too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Run, Marin, Run!

I have always had a love-hate relationship with running. Once I get into it, running is awesome. If I don't run for while, it sucks again. And so it goes.

I started running in high school (when dinosaurs roamed the earth). I joined the cross country team because a cute guy I liked was on the team. Running cross country turned out to be way more than I bargained for, but I couldn't quit the team because I didn't want cute guy to think I was a loser. So, I plugged away, running miles everyday, and after a bit, I started to like it. It was an amazing feeling to feel like I could run forever - it was such an accomplishment to me that my body could feel that good. I was never a star member of our team, I was never fast, but for me the goal was just to finish, and by the end of my time on the cross country team, I could do it.

Then high school ended, cute guy no longer seemed that cute to me, and my running faltered and eventually stopped. In my early twenties, I started running again. I felt fat, I had a lot of stress going on, and running was a welcome escape. I kept it up for awhile, and then once again something moved up in importance (probably another cute guy, who liked drinking as opposed to running - I chose real winners in my youth), and the running stopped.

And it went - every few years I would take it up again, feel really good, and then life would step in and it would take a back burner again. When I was running, I loved to talk about it with other runners; comparing mileage, routes and various aches and pains. When I wasn't running, I would avoid those kinds of conversations, feeling all kinds guilty when I would overhear people talking about running.

As married life and kids became the focus of my life, running took the title of "Never Happening Again". I would talk about running in the past tense, nostalgically. "Ahh, yes, I was once a runner - good times!". I took it up again briefly when Rhys was a baby, but stopped once I quit working to become a fulltime mom. Yes - I know that sounds counter intuitive, but not much I do really ever makes a lot of sense.

Anyways, I started running again this spring. In about March, I took a long hard look at myself and said to my husband, "I want to join a gym." He said, "What can you get at a gym that you can't get for free? Greenbelt - there's your cardio." He points to some dust covered dumbells, "There's your resistance training." And then he points to himself, "And I will be your trainer. You can do this if you really want to."

Well, obviously there was no gym membership forthcoming. And José was right. I could do this if I really wanted to. So, I started to walk the Greenbelt. I would run maybe 10 steps. And then say to myself, "Walking is fine, no need to run."

I love the Greenbelt. I love that so many people use it, I love how beautiful it is, I love that it is right across the street from my house. I have been utilizing the Greenbelt since forever. When I was running in high school, we would run on the Greenbelt (a little different then than its current form), When I was running in my twenties, I ran on the Greenbelt. And always when I ran, I would listen to my music. Remember how awesome the Walkman's were when they first came out? I thought those were the best invention ever, I could listen to my music when I worked out. Working out becomes instantly more fun if there is good music involved. And, in those days. I would run on the Greenbelt listening to, you guessed it, Def Leppard.

Yeah, so not much has changed. I now have an ipod, but it is loaded with Def Leppard. Def Leppard has a lot more songs now than they did 25 years ago.

I love my time on the Greenbelt. It is time alone, listening to music that I enjoy. As spring merged into summer, my walks became a little more like runs. Little by little, the time I spent running was more than the time I spent walking, and little by little, running sucked a little less.

During the summer, I was coerced by my girlfriends to take a deep water aerobic class. Never one to resist peer pressure, I took the class and have ended up really liking it. When temps soared above 110 degrees, the swim class took the place of my run/walks. When school started, I found the need to have some alone time again. So, one morning I decided to go for a walk (the temp was a brisk 98 degrees - brrr!). I put my earbuds in, cranked up the Def Leppard, and off I went. And I ran. I ran the whole way (only 2 1/2 miles, but still). And I felt GREAT!

So, I currently run on the days I don't have swim class. Some days the runs are more walking than running, but other days I feel like I could run forever. I am trying to get up to 5 miles, but I am not there yet. Maybe I never will be. It is still awesome, to be outside, alone, looking at all the beautiful scenery my little town has to offer, listening to my favorite songs.

I do have more than Def Leppard on my ipod. I also have The Wiggles (seriously). Big and Rich. Oingo Boingo. And Abba. Because it is so fun to run to "Dancing Queen". And being in my forties, I simply don't care how I look when I run. Back in my early running days, I worked out in full make up. I would be mortified if I saw someone I knew. I wasn't above diving behind a bush to avoid talking to an acquaintance. Now, I love seeing people I know. I look so scary when I am running that a student didn't recognize me when she saw me run by. (Of course, she thinks I live at the school.) And I am not shy about singing along to my ipod as I go. So, I am the goober who is running along singing as she goes. Yeah, I laugh at those people when I see them, too. And if the Wiggles come on, you might see me doing the Monkey Dance. But I own the fact that I am a geek.

I am hoping that writing this doesn't curse my current running happiness. I don't want to look at this post next month, and say, "So not doing that anymore." It would be nice if I could keep this up. Because I feel good; all those silly things people say about working out are so true...I sleep better, I have more energy, I am less stressed. And I have lost some weight. So, if you read this blog, and you see me, feel free to ask me how the running is going. And then raz me mercilessly if I say I am so not doing that anymore.

Edit: I ran the 5 miles today! Yeah me!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Best Leading By Example Story

Sawyer can be pretty careless with her electronic gadgets. The digital camera she got for Christmas is broken, and now her ipod is dead. Gah!! Does she not realize that these gadgets are expensive, and that money doesn't grow on trees?

I sat her down and gave her the "You need to treat these pieces of equipment carefully - when they break because you are careless, we do not have the money to replace them" lecture. And then, patting myself on the back ("I rock as a parent! Yeah me!"), I left for work.

And when I got there, I couldn't find my new, expensive, cell phone.


I looked everywhere and it was nowhere to be found. I called the place I stopped on my way to work, no sign of it. After work (it was my Nanny gig, so it was in the evening) I scoured the house. I called and called it, eventually the battery ran out and it went straight to voice mail. It was lost.

That night, we had a monsoon storm.

The next morning, José goes out to look in the truck to see if I somehow missed it (whatever), and finds it in the driveway. In pieces (I had obviously run over it. More than once.), and wet (remember the monsoon?). I took back the "whatever".

He comes in, shaking his head, holding the shattered remains of my (new, expensive) cell phone in his hand. To his extreme credit he said absolutely nothing - just gave me a slight shake of his head; which was worse than being yelled at, but then, he never yells.

I had to leave for an outing with the kids, and off I went, furious at myself for my carelessness. Didn't I just give Sawyer this lecture? How stupid am I? How will I possibly be able to survive without my cell phone? It's been 10 minutes since I left the house and I am DYING!!!

When we got home, a brand new, BETTER and MORE EXPENSIVE cell phone was waiting for me. (My husband rocks!).

So, what did I teach Sawyer? If you are careless with your expensive gadgets your dad will come through and get you better stuff. Now that is the heart of a hard earned life lesson.

Yeah, I am not harping on that topic anymore. I simply always try to have my phone with me, and hope she doesn't see when it slips out of my hands (all too often).

Off I go to resume work on "Best Parenting Tips" by Marin Velarde - Super Mom.

Leading By Example

So, I am laying on my bed the other day, and Cooper comes to cuddle with me. He looks up at my ceiling and says, "Auntie? Why is there a spider web up there?"

"Because I need to clean my room", I reply

To which he says, "Why do you get mad at Sawyer when she doesn't clean her room, and you don't clean yours?"

For a 4 year old, Cooper is a very wise little guy.

And he made a great point. I am constantly harping on my kids, but do they ever see me making a concerted effort to keep things clean? On a regular basis? They are supposed to straighten their room every day; I think the last time I straightened my room I was pregnant with Rhys (and that was in the other house...heh). I really want the dishes to be done on the days the kids are scheduled to do them, but who does them one days when the kids aren't scheduled? Um, that would be no one. Ok, this is not one of my proudest parenting moments. That how-to book of parenting I was going to write has been put on hold.

So I cleaned my room last week. I vacuumed that gray mystery lump that was sitting on my dresser for so long - I had thought it was a piece of art from the kids' preschool days - it was actually my wedding photo. (I think, those kids looked so young and enthusiastic and thin...maybe it was the picture that came with the frame. No, wait, that handsome groom is José. Yeah, he's still that cute. ). I got rid of the spider web on my ceiling (sorry for the short notice, dude, hope you like vacuum cleaner bags), I got rid of clothes, I cleaned baseboards, I scrubbed the floor, I dusted(!), and by the way, my TV screen isn't dying, it was just a thick layer of dust that was making the picture blurry. My room is spotless.

José totally didn't notice. Cooper, on the other hand, was very impressed.

So, my new plan is to try to lead by example. I hate housework, and I hate cleaning, but the life lesson here is that there are certain things that need to be done in life, even if you dislike them. Plus, isn't living in a semi clean house more comfortable? My kids all shrug and roll their eyes when I pose that question. (I do the same inside my head, but don't tell them.) I am working on it, at least now that I have a leg to stand on, because they will see me doing my chores too.

Read on for my best leading by example story....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to School!

So, today was the first day of school. For the kids, there was nerves and excitement. For me? The same.

On a whim, I asked the kids what their goals for this year were. Not really expecting much of a response other than an eyeroll, here are the responses I got...

Sawyer - "To get better grades"

Kellan - "To read the complete "Twilight" series"

Rhys - "To learn my multiplication and division tables so well I don't need to think about them"

I was pretty impressed by these goals. My friend Sandra suggested I write them in a visible spot so none of us forget. Good suggestion - have I done it yet? Not so much.

Drop off was interesting. Rhys was pretty matter of fact. He didn't want me to walk him to class, but I insisted, only to be berated by his teacher for doing so. Note to self: listen to the boy.

Kellan took off with a confident smile in my direction. She was excited.

Abby (can't forget her) looked a little tentative, and I gave her a squeeze, and left her room, tears running down my face. My baby is in kindergarten. I think I am having a harder time with this than her parents...

Sawyer asked that I drop her off at school (we usually do the carpool thing with another family), and she was nervous. Understandably so. I remember those first days of school (for me it was high school) walking into those classes, hoping to just see one familiar face, and once a familiar face is spotted, hoping it is friendly. God, it sucked. I tried to be all mom-like and give her a speech about the opportunity of meeting new people and stopped halfway through. No - it sucks. I hated, and still hate, walking into a new situation. She hopped out of the car, with a small smile for me, and then I went off to start my day (and that is whole other blog, not written yet, see in a day or two).

Pick up time arrives. Actually, way before pick up time arrives, but me and my cronies are so excited to go back to the bench (, we arrive at school 30 minutes early.

First to be picked up - Abby. "I love school, my favorite part is the cafeteria."

Then Rhys makes his way out. "My teacher is the strictest teacher I have ever had". Looking at his short list of teachers, that probably is a true statement. He did allow that her strict rules regarding no talking in class and no running around the classroom were probably good rules to have.

Kellan finds me. "I love fifth grade!" She loves her teacher, she loves her class. Yeah!

Now to go get Sawyer. I'm all scared, because I know how hard her day most likely was, and frankly, Sawyer is a glass half empty kind of gal. She gets in the car. "How was your day?" I ask tentatively. She gives me the thumbs up. What a relief! She has people she likes in her classes, her teachers made the upcoming year sound exciting, and she is now an 8th grader - big kid on campus. Whew!

So the madness starts again. I have made the decision to be home with my family more this year, giving up a few of my many babysitting gigs so I can be around more. I am thinking that I will have all of this extra time, so I can help my kids organize themselves and cook wholesome wonderful meals for them. Yet, the first day of school has come and gone, and even though I am working less, the time - still not there. It is after 9PM, and everything that I needed to get done today, both in the house (dishes. lots and lots of dishes) and for work still sits in gigantic piles around me, mocking me.

I am taking a deep breath, and just going to go with the flow. Do the best I can. And try to have a fun time doing it, and try to make it fun for the people around me. Because if I can provide entertainment for the people around me by how scattered I am then my job is done.

Rhys telling me his day was terrible...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I brought back all kinds of cool gadgets and goo from the three day science camp I attended last week. I probably should write about that at some point, it was one of the best experiences of my life. In this video, Abby and Grace demonstrate one of the many uses of Gravi-Goo. (Turn down the music down there on the right hand side before you watch the video.)

Sulfur Hexafluoride

What the heck is that???????????

It is a gas that is 6 times heavier than air. Helium is a gas that is 6 times lighter than air, and we all know what happens when you breathe in helium. See what happens when you breathe in sulfur hexafluoride....(don't try this at home!) Turn off the music that's playing (down there on your right) before you watch the video.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bathtub Update

A little late in posting this, but progress has been made on that pesky bathtub!
Eventually the tools will have to find a new home, and it still needs to be grouted, but I am pleased with the progress. Sawyer designed the pattern, going with funky eclectic hopefully masking the fact that at one time there was simply bare pipes in that space.

The Great Trolley Adventure

In my never ending quest to find fun and interesting things to do that don't cost a lot of money, and don't involve being in the sun too long, a few weeks ago I decided we should go on a trolley adventure.

My family and I love the trolley. We take it to the library, we take it to Fashion Square, we take it to Old Town, we take it to Nana's and we have even just ridden the entire route just to pass some time. It's free and it is air conditioned.

Imagine my excitement when the trolley routes changed, and now, if we change to the Tempe Trolley (called the Orbit) we could trolley all the way to Tempe Marketplace. I call Patty, and say, "Let's try this out - should be fun!" While my kids are used to my "adventures", I think the Malley's thought I was a little hair brained - but since it was free and air conditioned, they were in.
We meet at Eldorado, and hop on the trolley. The kids are excited! After much perusing of maps and trolley routes, Patty and I determine which stop we need to get off at in order to meet the Orbit. We have 10 kids between us...Sawyer, Kellan, Rhys, Abby, Grace, Cooper, Kaitlyn, Trevor, J.T. and Amy, which got a little hairy when we realized we had to cross a major street to catch the Orbit that would take us to Tempe Marketplace. There was lots of "Grab her hand", "Don't stop in the middle of the street!", "Rhys, get your shoe!" before we all got safely across, and hopped on the Orbit.

The Orbit took us through all kinds of interesting parts of Tempe, and exposed the kids to some interesting people. A lot more people use the Orbit than use the Scottsdale trolley, so everyone was able to refine their people watching skills.

We get to Tempe Marketplace, with the grand plan to have the kids play on the splash pad. Always planning, Patty had even brought towels. Me - I was going to let my kids drip dry; it was 110 degrees, how long would it take?

We head straight for the splash pad - the kids eager to get wet, Patty and I eager to sit down; that 50 yard walk from the trolley stop is a long one, after all - only to be told the splash pad is broken. Really? Bum deal, and now I am feeling all kinds of smug that I didn't bring towels and Patty has to lug hers all over the place. Heh.

The news that the splash pad was broken caused a little bit of devastation...

But J.T. took the opportunity to do some shopping, and disrobing of mannequins...

And our kids are nothing if not resourceful. Splash pad broken? Well, we'll just play in the fountain!

After the kids had thoroughly embarrassed us by completely soaking themselves in the public fountain (honestly, we didn't notice what was happening until Cooper yelled, "Look at me, Auntie" from the middle of the fountain. On the ball, that's us!), we decided Icee's from Target would be a good idea, mainly because I, the cheapskate, refused to spring for Cold Stone.

After everyone had achieved brain freeze, it was time to catch the trolley back home. This adventure was hard on some of its participants...

So, we are making our way merrily back home when I realize it is 4:30, and I am supposed to have Abby to her mom by 5:00 so she can have a 5:30 swimming lesson. Oops. We are at least an hour away from home. I call Margie, tell her the dilemma, and she decides she is going to try to catch us once we get back onto the Scottsdale trolley. We hop off at the trolley stop at the busy street I talked about earlier, this time with sleeping kids. And we wait. And wait. And wait. A trolley goes by, but I, clearly with my head not where it should be, proclaim, "That's not the right trolley, it's going the wrong way!" (it wasn't). More waiting. Finally, a trolley appears, we hop on, and realize we are going the wrong way. So it is going to take us even longer to get back where we need to be. Yeah, I am a master of maps and such. I call Margie to tell her our status, and since she is used to my utter cluelessness about navigation, she arranges to meet me at closest trolley stop.

I get off at this stop, a sleeping Abby in my arms, assuring Patty I will be on the next trolley behind her, and will meet her back at Eldorado Park to retrieve the five kids I am saddling her with.

Margie grabs still sleeping Abby, and I hop on the next trolley. And it took me about 2 minutes to realize I was GOING THE WRONG WAY. Again. So now, instead of ten minutes behind Patty, it will be more like an hour.

Luckily, Jose is off work by this time and he is able to meet Patty at the park. She by now has 4 sleeping kids, and a little less respect for me. I hopped off the trolley about a mile away from home and walked the rest of the way.

All in all, I think it was a fun day. Not sure if Patty will join me in one of my hairbrained adventures again, but at least she now knows I can't be trusted with maps, and public transportation. All good things to know if you are going to hang out with me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

High School Musical - On Stage!

So, the kids and I went to see "High School Musical - On Stage" tonight. I am not a fan of this Disney all. To be fair, I have never seen it one of the billion times it has been on TV, but my kids, particularly Kellan, are gaga over it. Abby and Grace love it as well. Through the three of them, I have been exposed to the music, the characters, and the merchandising. And, blegh. I can honestly say I was not looking forward to this event.

We make plans with Abby and Margie (Abby's mom) to go out to dinner before the play, and make a real night of it. I even wore a dress - which for me, is really weird. Kellan and Sawyer dressed up as well; Rhys - not so much.

We ate at Cheeburger Cheeburger - a fun little place, and then it was off to the play. In typical Marin style, we ran late, couldn't find a parking space and then had to run full speed to the venue. We sat down just as the lights went down.

The production was great. I enjoy plays, so just the theatre experience is fun for me. But the absolutely best part of this play was watching my kids' reactions to it. Sawyer went in with much the same attitude as me; plus, at 13, she is far too cool for High School Musical. But she laughed, sang, clapped along, and was totally immersed in the play. Kellan, this being her second time, was completely entranced, while Rhys ran a running commentary to me about whatever was happening on stage ("if my friends made fun of me for wanting to sing instead of play basketball, I would tell them that well organized people can do both") in between songs he belted out at the top of his lungs.

My kids all assured me that the play was MUCH better than the movie, but I have to say, I might actually try to catch it next time it comes on TV. There was a little bit of magic in the air tonight - the fact that the three of my kids are still up and talking about it while sitting together on Sawyer's bed has led me to believe that there just might be something to this phenomenon. Or maybe, I have finally been exposed to its subliminal message and now I am under Disney's control.

So, off to buy a Gabriella doll!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How Do I Have No Time?

This is a question that I have pondering a lot lately...I mean, I don't work full time, I don't have any young children that need constant attention (except on the days I babysit), I don't clean house, I don't exercise, it is summer - my kids aren't involved in a kajillion activities, but time.

(Hmmm...I do spend an awful lot of time doing what I am doing right now, sitting in front of the that where all my time goes? No, couldn't be...).

We are into the second week of summer, and, hmmm, what have I accomplished on my to do list? Well, let me see, um, nothing. Yet I have been busy everyday. Doing what? No idea.

Ok, I have been putting in some time at the preschool, which I swear, is like a time vacuum. I love the place, and if I let myself, I could be there 24 hours a day. We are currently remodeling, and I have been moving furniture (me, and two of my girlfriends moved a bank of 7 file cabinets no less than 6 times the other night - does that count as a workout?) I dragged all the kids there over the weekend - and they all got some life lessons. Kellan learned how to use a drill to remove hardware from the walls, Sawyer learned how to spackle the holes left behind, Rhys learned how to check expiration dates on food, Grace learned how to empty a cupboard into boxes, move the boxes into a different room, and then put the stuff back in the cupboards in an organized fashion, and Cooper played ball in an empty classroom.

Currently, the other teachers and I are painting murals for our summer program that is coming up in two weeks. More time suckage.

I posted earlier that I would count myself lucky if I removed that cobweb that is on my bedroom ceiling. Well, I think the spider is subletting, because I see an addition being added, and a little tiny "For Rent" sign hanging up there. Now, I will feel bad if I clean it.

On an up note, my very industrious husband and incredible father-in-law have been making amazing progress on that middle bathroom - it is almost ready for tile!! Yeah!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rainbow Order

Today was Rhys's day to do the dishes. More often than not, he approaches this chore with great enthusiasm. He loves making lots of bubbles with the dish soap, and figuring out the best way to get the most dishes in the dishwasher. And you can always tell when Rhys has done the dishes, because he stacks our plates in Rainbow Order.

Time to Grow the Hair...

This past Saturday, I went to see Kenny Chesney in concert. I am no real Kenny Chesney fan, the only reason I went is because my good friend Jeanette asked me to. One of Kenny's opening acts was Sammy Hagar, who is Jeanette's Def Leppard. You see, we have a pact - Jeanette comes to Def Leppard with me, and I go to Sammy Hagar with her, and a fun time is had by all.

The concert was at the University of Phoenix stadium (the Cardinal stadium) - that place is HUGE!! I don't think I have ever been to concert that big. Had no idea Mr. Chesney was such a big deal, what with my musical tastes so firmly planted in the 80's and with Australian children's music groups. But, wow! Soooo many people.

Through some underhanded scheming by a friend of ours, we got to see Sammy Hagar from the floor. As usual, he was awesome. After his set, Jeanette and I made our way back to our seats after getting some more beer and some munchies. She and I were sitting there, having a good time, when suddenly a lady tapped Jeanette on the back and asked,

"Are you two sisters?"

"No," we replied.

"Are you married" was the next question. Jeanette flashes her wedding ring and says, "Oh, yes."

At which point the lady asked, "To each other?"

I don't think I have laughed that hard in years. I think I missed Keith Urban singing about four songs.

Jeanette, who has always had short hair, says to me, "Marin, it's the hair, I get this all the time"

It was at that moment I decided that it was time to grow out my hair again.

A cute couple? (Jeanette and I at the 3-day last November)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Nanny Poppins

The musical production this year at Pima was "The Nanny Poppins", their version of "Mary Poppins". Not sure why the name change. Anyways...I am always amazed at these productions. They are put on by the Pima Singers, a group of 4th, 5th and 6th graders who choose to spend several afternoons a week to practice for these performances. It is a large group of kids, about 60 or so, boys and girls, who practice their little hearts out for months. The music teacher, I have decided, is a saint. In my thank you note to her this year, I said that I am so burnt out at the end of the year that simply getting my students say the Pledge is an exercise in self control. Yet, this woman teaches first through sixth graders all day long then puts on a musical after school hours. I sincerely hope she is in Rocky Point right now, sipping a margarita. The coolest thing about watching these productions is watching how much fun the kids are having. They all love being up on stage, performing. And their teacher has helped them discover that joy. So very cool.

Here are some not so great video clips of Kellan, performing. Being the poorly prepared mom, my camera ran out of batteries before her solo.

Kellan is on the left hand side on the end...

Kellan is right in the middle...

Kellan is on the left, in the back...

These little snippets do not do the production justice. It was elaborate, with several scene changes and several costume changes. The kids were responsible for getting their own costumes together, and each one put hours of thought into what their custumes should be. The picture at the top is Kellan in her nanny costume - all items found by her in a thrift store.

Grace Rides her Bike!

Grace is one determined little girl. A few weeks ago, she watched Rhys finally figure out how to ride his bike, and decided that she was going to learn as well. I took her to the park in the grassy area where I taught Rhys (when you fall in the grass, it doesn't hurt near as much when you fall on asphalt) a few times, and then my schedule, as well as hers got a little busy. We hadn't worked on the bike riding at all lately. So, this weekend, she is over and she watches as her cousins all take off on a bike ride. She gets this look of determination on her face, finds her helmet, pulls out her bike, and goes to work. She stubbornly tried over and over and over, picking herself up spill after nasty spill, never giving up. She was going to join her cousins on bike rides, no matter what. And today...she got it!!

Tomorrow, Abby is bringing her bike. She too wants to join in the bike riding fun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Last Day of School

So, today was the last day of school for my kids. And while they are so very excited that summer is here, I find myself a little sad.

This was an interesting school year for me, as far as the kiddos go. I was terrified of sending Sawyer to a Middle School. Ends up a lot of my fears were justified, but as has been the norm with Sawyer her whole life, she is our little guinea pig. I now know what to expect from that heinous place they call Middle School, and how to help her handle things next year, as well as what the younger two will need when they make the transition. Or maybe, hopefully, our current school will go to 8th grade by then (we have been campaigning hard, but that is a whole other website... if you care to have a look, Kellan is on the main page), and the whole terrifying middle school experience will go the way of my once wrinkle free skin.

To be fair, Sawyer LOVED her experience this year. She definitely had to grow up, and shoulder a lot of responsibility. She made lots of friends, and learned how to deal with the not so friendly types. She thought Middle School rocked. Me, not so much.

Kellan had an amazing year. She seemed to really come into her own this year, and she truly blossomed. She had an awesome teacher, whose passion is science; Kellan had some really cool science experiences this year, and suddenly, science is her favorite subject. Everything from making a potato battery to snail races to raising crawdads. She participated in the school musical this year, "Mary Poppins" and even had a couple of solos. She auditioned and got the parts, and didn't even tell us that she was auditioning.

And after being utterly panicked about sending Rhys to the "big school", he had am amazing year as well. His teacher was absolutely incredible, and I seriously can not throw enough praise at this man. He saw through Rhys's sometimes challenging behavior (I affectionately call it being a pain in the a-word, but I don't think that is the proper educational term) to the wonderful smart kid that he is. How lucky were we that Rhys had this teacher? I look back on the year, and see that if another teacher hadn't had the patience that Mr. H. did, that I certainly wouldn't be so pleased with Rhys's performance this year. I volunteered the last full day of school at the "First Grade Olympics". I hadn't helped out at all in his classroom this year, so I was happy to be there. And I got to see Rhys's less than perfect behavior first hand, and felt the gray hairs multiplying all over my head. And realized that the paltry gift card I got for Mr. H was not near enough. I probably should have simply wheeled a keg of beer into his classroom, plopped it in front of his desk with a big bow and the words"Thank you!" painted on the front. The man is a saint. And I know that I teach three year olds for a reason. Seven year olds are tough!

Oh, yeah, so why am I sad? Because as school ends, so does the chance to see all of my friends at pick up time. My good friend Amy describes our routine perfectly here, and while I know I will see everyone at some point over the summer, not seeing them several times a week will be hard. Who will listen to me ramble on about the minutiae in my life? How will I know about the minutiae in everyone else's life?

It's weird, at 43, I suddenly have friends again. It's not like I went for awhile with no friends, but I was so busy with my life, and my kids and my job(s), that establishing and maintaining friendships seemed like a thing in my past. I had lots of acquaintances, but nobody I hung out with. I hung out with my husband. I figured that's what one did. Until, someone mentioned the words "Girls' Night Out". That someone also said, everyone deserves a couple of hours away from her husband and kids. And next thing I know, I am walking 60 miles with this group of ladies who go on monthly Girls Nights Out. And I have discovered that having a group of women to share experiences with and to talk to and to seek advice from was pretty cool. The coolest thing? The realization that we are going through the same stuff, and it is way more fun to laugh about it with friends than to fret about it alone.

So, the summer stretches before me. I have grand plans that include organizing all my photos and all the kids' artwork as well as cleaning, organizing and painting the entire house. Not to mention, we are wanting to do a lot of landscaping in the backyard as well as finally fix that middle bathroom.

HA! We all know that my summer will be spent trying to figure out fun things to do with the kids that don't cost a lot of money, and if maybe I pull a weed in the backyard, and dust the spiderwebs off the ceiling in my bedroom, I can say I accomplished something in the house.