Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas always comes in such a flash. There's the gift buying, the parties, decorating and baking.  More often than not it can be one too much for the kiddos (neurotypical and autistic) so we carefully choose those activities that bring the most pleasure. 

For the first time we took everyone to see the lights at the Mesa temple. It's an impressive display and we worried about the numbers of people and how Bubby would do. Inspiration came and I brought along an apple which he happily gnawed on as we walked and took pictures. Pumpkin was in Heaven!  She adores all the Christmas lights and had to touch all the colors.  Bud is reach that tween phase where he's not so interested but even he had a good time. 

We tried a drive through light show set to music as well.  Honestly we came through it a little bewildered.  It was just too much stimulus for most of us and especially for Bubby.  From now on we'll stick to Mesa's show with it quiet reminder of what this season really is about.

The gingerbread houses are a must!  I'm not sure there is every any esthetic goal here, just the need to stick as much sugar as possible to consume later.

Here in Phoenix you must travel to have the pleasure of playing with snow.  Fortunate for us the science center had a nice pile for us to play with.  Bubby wasn't to happy with the cold wet stuff but the other kiddos had fun.

The older two and Pumpkin caught Coco in theaters.  It was a beautiful story of loved ones lost and by the end the two oldest were sobbing into my shoulder.  Bug's final remark was that it warmed her heart to think of her Grandma Young on the other side and how she lives in her memory.

For our annual ornaments we brought back from Utah some of their metallic skeleton leaves.  They were so beautiful, reminding me of my college days with fall leaves.  Pumpkin opted for a wooden zebra, something she has just recently claimed as her favorite animal.  For Bubby we tried searching for an apple ornament.  He adores apples and must consume one a day (or two or three if he manages to sneak them)   Sadly, we didn't find any we liked so Kent made one from a book Bubby had torn up.  (So proud of his up cycling skills)  If he ever gets his hands on it we can rest easy that it won't shatter into a million pieces! 

We had our annual Christmas Eve party with family.  Sadly I didn't get much in the way of pictures and the few I did get somehow got deleted.   We did keep this video of Pumpkin on Santa/Baba's lap.  She has been raving for months about seeing him and about the present he says he'll bring her.  She wasn't shy in he least and the joy of a candy cane was enough to fulfill her dreams.  Even Bubby did okay.  He refused to sit on Santa's lap but he did move close enough so Santa could pat him on the back and hand him a small gift.  It was a big step for him and we are proud of it

The big day itself was filled with fun gifts, food and games.   Bug's favorite gift was the dollhouse and Pumpkin adored he 'fuzzy bunny' family to go with it.   Bubby loved his big red bouncy ball and Bud's favorite gift was from his sister, a nerf gun.  

Bud recently befriended some neighborhood boys who have an arsenal of nerf guns. He had some years ago but never had anyone to pay with.  Over time the guns broke, bullets were lost, etc.  The boys always shared with him but he wanted to own his own.  I had taken the girls out to do their Christmas shopping and was impressed with Bug and her generosity.  She has always been careful of her spending and had about $30.  She rejected buying the cheap knock off at the dollar store but was torn at spending more for him than she did for the rest of the family combine.  In the end she did it because she, "couldn't wait to see how happy Isaac would be".  She could barely contain herself as she wrapped it and waited for the big day.  Bud's response was epic and Bug loved all the joy it brought him and still brings him to this very day.  I love her generous heart.

She couldn't sit still for him to open it.  He was shocked into silence which is a big deal for him if you know him well.  After that it we had to drag him back for the rest of the presents because nothing could beat it.  

In the end it's not the gifts we remember, but the smiles, the laughter.  Even as I write this now I warms me to look back on these pictures.  It's the feelings I hope we never forget.  On to a new year!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Family Pictures

I was always sad that my family rarely took family pictures as a group.  I've tried to remediate this in my own family but life gets terribly busy and we seem to only manage it every 2-3 years.  We were overdue and so when the chance came to do it in Puerto Penasco for a good price we took it!

Jumping together just wasn't going to happen!

The background couldn't be more perfect and we had fun and they were lovely.  Now to get these up on my walls!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Puerto Penasco 2017

Years ago when we only had two children we bought into a timeshare in Puerto Penasco.  It has been the best thing for us, 4 hrs away  at a beachside resort that has a familiarity of a second home.   Even Bubby knows his way around and the staff recognize us and are so helpful with him.  We had a bit more excitement than we are use too this time around but it was still a blast and very memorable.  

Observing sea snails.

Throwing shells to splash into the ocean was Bubby's favorite hobby.  Pumpkin happily aided him by picking the biggest shells for him.

The sand turtle is now a tradition!

Love this shot of my girls!

Bubby would strip down everything for the chance to get into the water.  Even on the 'colder' days when we only intended to go for a walk, hence the diaper!

We found many more than our usual sea life thus go around.  Among our shell collecting we found a live cone snail.  We had recently watched a video regarding this mollusk that it has a venomous 'harpoon' that it uses to kill its prey. It's a pretty intense neurotoxin and so while it was a small shell when we discovered it was alive Bud was quick to put it into a glass cup and keep it far away. 

Other shells had no inhabitants inside but we felt badly for the barnacles and sent them back out to sea

There are warnings that jellyfish and stingrays visit the Sea of Cortez depending on the time of year. We'd never seen the stingrays but Bud had an intimate exp to when he stepped on one.  It was rather painful and he ran back up the beach to the resort.  A local took a look at his foot and told Kent about soaking it in hot water to draw the venom out. Ibuprofen helped and the next day the medics cleaned the wound further and he was back out on the beach with a slight limp. 

Two days later Kent saw an octopus about the size of a quarter hiding in a shell.  Bug was thrilled and without a single thought to safety picked the little guy up.  It tried to get away and as a last resort it's beak bit her on her pinky finger and it burned with an unusual pain.  We kept the little bugger that Bud carried back in a sea shell in case we need to identify the toxin while Kent rushed her back.  In the meanwhile I carried Bubby and Pumpkin stoically trudged back.  Sadly the little octopus died and Bug felt badly and gave it a nice burial deep in the sand away from scavenging birds. 

We drove into town to do some tide pooling and found our usual living mollusks along with a two sea stars and a very special sea slug.  Kent has a good eye for these things.  If you watch the two videos you'll see that the octopus experience has made her a little more hesitant to hold unfamiliar animals - but only a little!

A tiny brittle starfish

This was a brilliant find by Kent, a beautiful sea slug with bright turquoise streaks.  The quality of the video is poor but it was pretty unforgettable, as was the kids responses.  Watching the videos on this is a must if just to hear the kids arguing in the background or to hear Bug's love of all things living.

Live periwinkle with it's clear operculum

A sunray starfish wedged under a rock

Bud touching tiny sea anenomes

Kent found this for me, a rare find for all it's spines intact.

A fort is always made in the front room with all the cushions and pillows.  I had to snap the shot of Bubby as he plopped down to watch his Signing Time show and was confused as he slowly sank down in. 

We had heard of places you could go to dig your own clams so we went and discovered that this is where many of the locals go to launch their boats and bring in the catch to the day.  The kids found many intact clam shell which really weren't  since sand and water had suctioned the two parts together.  There was one exception, a turkey wing shell that we ended up cooking and Bug ate happily.  We found many live oysters which were tiny but Bud broke a few off and so we cooked those up as well. For being such tiny oysters they were quite sweet. 

A few gorgeous shots of this little girl against the white sands having fun with her footprints.

On he day before last Kent was nearly pinched by this large crab when he accidentally stepped in it.  It must have been pretty upset to go attacking the grocery bag. Bug also found a live sand dollar. 

Our timing was poor this year.  Usually we go during March or October and the tide heads out in the early morning hours of 5-6.  This time around it was usually at 3 am, not a time I feel safe walking on my own. The afternoon tides took both of us to wrangle the kids so I was thrilled to find that on our last morning there the early tide would be 6 am so I could take my customary mile walk out in the quiet dark before the dawn.  On my way back I saved a clam from becoming breakfast to a larger mollusk and found two sea stars the kids enjoyed observing while we packed.

I'm so glad we bought in years and years ago.  I hope that in the years to come it'll be the place my children return to with their children and we make memories through the ages.