Saturday, September 18, 2010

Them's Good Apples!

Our research into organic meat around AZ lead us to a ranch just outside of Wickenberg that also had U-Pick apple orchards. Us city folks, just could not resist! Besides I was positive that the greens and browns would be a perfect backdrop for a few good family pictures.

The first of many, MANY samples!

My two men hard at work!

Keila was a big helper by picking all the apples on the ground and adding them to the box. I briefly convinced her to place them in her own box separate from ours, but when her offerings were not 'accepted' she decided to take our out of our box and place them in with hers. ;0)

Sampling yet again!

Kent does some really nice shots ...

This is one of the most endearing scenes. There's something about seeing your children willing serve and love one another that fills you with indescribable joy.

Sharing and enjoying the fruit of our labors - AGAIN! It was a wonderfully refreshing day full of memories and simple joys.

Friday, September 17, 2010


We have friends that describe children before they begin crawling as 'Lumpy' since all they are is a lump - albeit a cute one. It was an apt expression for Keila until recently and now she darts or her hands and knees to everything and everywhere.

Keila on Isaac's 'treasure box' where he keeps his underwear and shoes. Keila loves them - the shoes, not the underwear, but on occasion she does put those on her head too.

She gives kisses now and it's such a thrill when she begins to smack her lips and plants several in a row all wet and soppy on your cheek. She has also said her first word/words. I heard it one day when I was walking by Isaac's room where they were playing. It began in a firm tone, "Nao" and quickly became a plaintive pleading tone of, "Nao, nao, nao!" Isaac had apparently picked her up and set her down on a tipped over chair so her legs were stuck in the air. Frankly it was a rather amusing picture but I could understand her saying no. Since then she uses it whenever we tell her no as well as when she does want something - like Isaac taking away a toy. Why is it my kids can't make their first word Mama or Baba? Isaac's first word was "Amen" in Chinese, as if he always has the last say. My question now is if this is an indication of what is to come with Keila. Is it too early to say, "Help?!"

Being the girly girl she is, she wasn't too sure about playing in the wet sand.

Needing a little comfort after a not so happy encounter with big brother.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stepping Stones

Today Isaac went off to preschool for the very first time. I played it off in an upbeat manner by listing all the wonderful things he would get to do and the friends he would have the opportunity of meeting. He was excited but there was this underlining apprehension. He seemed to know that this was the beginning of a long career in school and as much as he'd rather stay at home with me, it wasn't going to happen. We ate a good breakfast, got his backpack ready and took some pictures. Once we were outside the classroom door he squared his shoulders and marched into the classroom without so much as a kiss and a hug good-bye. The teachers have a clearly structured routine and once he was in - well, he was in. I found I needed to restrain myself from running in to kiss and hug him goodbye and harassing his teacher with questions along the lines of: "How'd he do today? Was he sad? Did he cry?" Though I suppose I'm not the first neurotic mother they've meet.

When I picked him up I asked him how he was and he said he was little sad that we never got to hug and kiss, something he promised he would remember to do next time. It was sweet, a little something to let me know how much he still needs me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Vaca Hang Overs

The hardest part about a vacation is getting back into the rhythm of things. Thank heavens we came back on a Friday so we could drag our feet through Saturday and Sunday to be ready in time for preschool tomorrow. We did manage to get out for a last bit of vacation fun. Kent and I took the kiddos to our old haunts ... the cheap dates of our years in pharmacy school. Pratts was a pet store I chanced into 6 years ago which has upgrade itself into a friendly petting zoo. Keila adores animals and giggle, ohhhh and ahhh-ed over anything that moved. Rooster, ducks, pigs, goats, rabbits a giant tortoise and birds in all shapes and sizes were there for our view pleasure. Afterwards we we to the end of the block to Cerretas, the AZ famous chocolate factory. We were lucky to go on a day when they had chocolate bears you could purchase and decorate for $5. Isaac had a blast and Kent and I were satisfied with the few goodies we bought for ourselves. Yes, it's last splurge before we clean out the gluttonous habits of the last week.

Don't ask me what he was trying to do when he decorated his bear. White chocolate 'glue' was generously applied and whatever did not end up in his stomach was haphazardly applied to the bear. But honestly, does it really matter? It's sugar and a little boy's happy wish fulfilled.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Puerto Penasco September 2010

I don’t know why it is that vacations for our family are either be a memorable time of togetherness or a period in which you can see how disconnected you are as a family. The lack of routine and purpose has often made us a little grouchier and irritable at things that don’t matter and for some reason we are all a little more selfish and it becomes an “I want” mantra. Our first day here in Puerto Penasco was filled with shell hunting, swimming and sandcastles, but I already felt that irritable phase beginning to come one. Since today was the Sabbath (and because a few little people refused to take naps) we thought we’d nip this problem in the bud and make Sunday a ‘family day’. That meant no beach, since we tend to wander on our own. Instead we went for a walk, built and played in a fort together (no couch is ever truly safe from such a fate with a 3 yr old around), had swimming games and made a point of really talking to each other rather than just ‘doing things’. It felt good and real. It made me realize that it is not the place that makes a holiday, but our individual efforts to reach out to each other coupled with a sense of balance and peace that make the difference. Good food, fun and endless beach helps though!

Isaac and I painted pottery and they glazed it for us to take home. It occupied a very active little boy for over and hour!

I love Keila's expression, as if she invented the peek-a-boo game herself!

Isaac is a collector … wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, he is always collecting something - beads from pellet guns, rocks, feathers, sticks, etc. It use to drive Kent and I bonkers when we went for walks around the neighborhood because we inevitably came home with a piece of every neighbor’s yard. While out here in Puerto Penasco Mexico, we have given his ultimate favorite item to collect – shells. The sea brings in endless pieces of shells in which EVERY ONE is a treasure and one he wants to keep. I was better prepared this time though for this and went a few days before to check out some books from the library to help identify shells.

As you can see, he’s a naturalist at heart. While cleaning them, he was already organizing and grouping and calling them ‘families’. While the larger shells are not necessarily Mama and Baba shells, I did explain to them that they do belong to a Family with a scientific and common name. After they had dried we spent a great deal of time looking through our field guides and counting how many shells we had of each ‘Family’ as well as learning their names. He can now identify by their common names (Turkey wings, cockle shells, clam shells, scallops, and periwinkles) and I have the joy of being his first and personal science teacher. I think I just might have to get him some boxes to truly begin his own collection of shells.

I ADORE walking along the beach and examining the wonders of God’s creations. My body still has a habit of waking at 5 am and since there isn’t a pool to do laps in, walking out during low tide with sandpipers and pelicans as companions makes a happy replacement.

My companions in the early morning.

The first morning I did so, I found the most amazing glossy vibrate Olive shells with tiny black flecks. It was busily burying itself into the sand as the water went out. I was so tempted to bring them back but couldn’t bring myself to kill them so I could keep their shells. I was truly tested when I chanced upon a Neptune whelk, the only one I had ever seen on this particular beach. I thought I’d tempt fate a little by leaving the poor mollusk wrong side up on the sand near some Sandpipers, but the birds missed the tasty morsel and when I came back an hour later it was half buried in the sand again. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera with me that morning to memorialize the finds I would never be able to keep. I didn’t make that mistake again.

There were tiny crabs everywhere, bright red ones wandering in old shells to the clear ones you could barely see that I hold in my hand.

The Fighting Conch which if you look carefully, you can see his eye stalks poking up. I'd overturn their shells and when the coast was clear, they'd flip themselves over in a blink of an eye.

This is a live sand dollar, you could feel it's tiny cillia beating in rhythm to get itself back into the sand.

My wanderings lead to areas we’ve dubbed as ‘shell cemeteries’ where a careful eye often reveals shells not so common near the hotel. The best ones were locate at least half a mile walk down from the hotel.

I had to step gingerly to prevent my feet being cut but the effort and time was well rewarded by these few finds. Perhaps Isaac won’t be the only one with a shell collection. I can also proudly say that there were no mollusks harmed in the making of this collection!

We also managed to go tidepooling on a day when the tide wasn't out at 6 am. It was definately something more for me than anyone else. Isaac was temporarily amused by the tiny crabs and moving shells, but found greater interest drawing in the sand. Keila just wanted to crawl and was frustrated that we wouldn't let her so she had to content herself with examining rocks and shells. Kent played He-man and turned over massive rocks so that I could get a glimpse of the teeming sea life. We had a few good finds, including 3 kinds of sea anemones, some brittle star fishs and a tiny sea cucumber.

We found it amusing to pluck off these periwinkles and watch them squirt water as they closed up. They have such beautiful colors inside.

This star fish really could move fast, it's arms were snake like and a little freaky to catch to keep it in place long enough for a good shot.

Me in my 'gorilla shoes'! Keila's dying to get out of my arms.

We all had a wonderful time and the morning of our departure Friday morning had Isaac so sad that he hardly ate breakfast (a pancake breakfast at that!) Keila did the opposite, eating 3 whole sausages, fruit and bread like she knew it was the end of the good life. We're all grateful to have had such a wonderful week together and grateful to be back into the normal order of our lives. Now all we need to lose is the larger middriffs we brought back from Mexico. Until next time! Adios Mexico!