Thursday, April 30, 2009

He's almost done!

Can you believe that Phil K (from The Amazing Race) has almost completed his ride across the United States?

Those of you who watch the Bonnie Hunt show are already keenly aware of Phil's progress. bonnie has been touching base with Phil and doing feeds with him since the ride began.

I've actually been visiting the website every second night or so to watch the end-of-day video blogs that Phil has been putting together. The updates are about 2 days behind his actual ride date but that's because they've got to edit the pieces. But it's neat to see how he's doing "in person". You can see how some days are a struggle. The enthusiasm of the people who meet up with Phil is fabulous. I especially like the family who came to Phil's hotel with two pies. THAT was precious.

What's especially neat to see is that you can watch Phil's progress during the day. He's carrying a GPS tracking device that is intermittently updating the website. Here's his progress so far today (he just started riding maybe 20 minutes ago). You can see at the top that it gives you his speed the direction he's riding.

If you don't already know, the main website is

You can see Phil's progress map like the one above at

So if Phil is riding your way? Go out and meet up with him. Go out and RIDE with him. He's trying to raise awareness for a great cause - multiple sclerosis. Help if you can! Thanks!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Out and about minding my own business

I picked up the kids yesterday from school like I usually do.

Like 75% of the time, I didn't have any make-up on (remember I work from home) but my hair was a mess. I took some time to color it since I had WAY too many shiny white hairs glistening when I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday morning. There was NO chance in heck that I'd visit my family (especially my Mom) with too many white hairs showing. My Mom wouldn't hesitate to totally call me on it.

Anyway, I get the kids from school and we drive home like we normally do. No big.

I drive into the garage and unlock the garage door (to go into the house). I then walk back out to the mail box at the curb. I stand there at the curb and inspect the mail since at least once a week or two we get other neighbor's mail. In the corner of my eye I notice a white truck parked two houses up at my neighbors house with someone sitting in the driver seat.
"Bear's Mom?"
Someone is talking to me? I look over and see who is talking to me. It's the assistant coach (AC) to Bear's baseball team! And there I am with crazy hair and no make-up. Thank goodness I had the sense to keep my sunglasses on!
Asst Coach: "Hey! I thought that was you."
Me: "Oh hi!"
Asst Coach: "You guys live there?"
Me: "Yeah. This is us."
Asst Coach: "My in-laws live here."
That's right folks. The assistant coach's wife's parents live two houses up from me.

We (Bear, me, assistant coach, his MIL, and his 3 boys) all ended up chatting on our driveway. Turns out that the assistant coach lives in the subdivision just next to ours so he's there with the boys every week or so. Can you believe it? Too funny how everyone in our neighborhood is tied to other people we know. Small world!

I visited and the conclusion so far...

no real conclusion.

My doctor prescribed some topical ointment that I need to apply twice per day on the spot. This is in the event that the spot is just an itchy skin problem.

My doc did perform a full exam on both sides to determine if there were any swollen nodes or any unusual formations underneath. She did not feel anything other than normal tissue. Thank goodness.

She did however give me paperwork authorizing me to get a mammogram. I had a mammogram a couple years ago that was clear. But this will is going to be done "just in case" there is an issue. Something underneath that we can't feel as yet.

We're both pretty hopeful that it's just a skin issue. But we're both taking it safe to make sure things are okay where we can't see.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm giving in


I'm finally going to let you have it.

The reason I've not been in a good place.

I may (or may not) have a tiny issue.

For the last month I've had an itchy spot.

Most wouldn't think twice about having an itchy spot, but this one has been persistent.

I've been trying to put lotion on it each night for the last 3 weeks, but once a day doesn't seem to be cutting it.

I will oftentimes half-wake at night due to the itchy sensation and have the urge to just rake my nails on it.

And this itchy spot?

The one I've been putting lotion on and trying my darndest not to be too overly concerned about?

It's on my right areola.


This morning I finally got the nerve to call my general doctor to schedule an appointment.

I'll be seeing her Wednesday morning.

I'm sure she'll just take a look at it and determine next steps. Like if I actually have to go see someone else. Possibly a dermatologist or someone else who specializes in skin conditions.

I'm hoping it's just a pesistent case of eczema.

I'm dreading that it's something serious.

Seen on our scene

Remember a few weeks ago when we saw the two cuddling snakes?

Yes. That was an eye-opener. My WIDE eyes. The kids thought it was so cool. I looked at the Hubs and told him that the kids are no longer allowed back there.

But guess what we saw in the backyard this morning during breakfast. Look!

Yes. This cute little bunny. It sat so still for about two minutes. I was able to run and grab my camera this time. The last time I saw this little guy was....Easter morning. It didn't stay long enough for me to capture a photo. It hopped out of our yard before I got back to the window with my camera. [pouty face] But today I caught it! Woohoo!

These aren't the only times that we've had a brush with nature this month. The other Saturday afternoon we were out in the front yard doing some trimming and sweeping while the kids played. I finally got one of our chairs and sat in a heap behind my car. I heard a buzzing near me. It was BIG buzzing, so I cringed.
Me: Honey! Honey! There's something buzzing near me!
Hubs: Babe. It's okay. It's only a fly.
Another minute later he must have actually LOOKED at me.
Hubs: Bear? Bear! Come here. Go inside the house right now. Princess! Get over here right now! Get inside the house!
We all ran into the house. Apparently, the buzzing I heard was a BEE. And when the Hubs finally looked in my direction (after he responded to me that it was a fly), he realized there was more than one bee flying around. On further looking around he realized there were about 50 bees buzzing around the right eave of our garage. FIFTY. BEES.

The Hubs grabbed the phone book and was on the phone. He actually called some bee removal specialists. Yes he did! One guy answered and scheduled to come out the next day, Sunday. So we obviously didn't hang outside our house the rest of Saturday.

Sunday after lunch? The guy came. He took a look and fixed things up. He sprayed some stuff that's poisonous to the bees onto the eaves and surround area. He then sealed up the little hole that the bees were going into.

Guess what the guy said? That these were AFRICANIZED bees. Yes. Killer bees! Oh my goodness. Thankfully, he said that this group of bees was the pre-swarm. This group were the scouts that were finding a new home for the rest of the group. They were getting the place ready. And typically the rest of the swarm would come in the next 48 to 72 hours. So luckily we caught the pre-swarm the day they showed up. They didn't have enough time to get things ready. Yeah! Since the guy came? We haven't seen any bees in the area they were trying to make a new home from.

Whew! Crisis averted once again!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post-game as usual

It's been showing signs of summer here.

Today we're only expecting to reach about 85* today. But this week? It reached over 90 most days. On one particular afternoon? My car thermometer read 99 when I drove to get the kids in the afternoon. Sweltering hot!

But even with the heat? My son's league continues to play. Here are some shots I took.

The Bear and the boys warmed up before their game.

Then they cooled off and got hydrated in the dug-out before the game.

The Bear is concentrating so hard here. He wants to smack the ball so that he can bring his teammate (see her on 3rd base) home.

Here's a view of the gamefield from the out-out-outfield. Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Countdown to another relative

In another seven or eight weeks, I'll have another niece. It'll be my 7th time as an Auntie!

LilSis is currently in her 3rd trimester. She and Shorty are expecting a little girl.

This coming weekend is their baby shower!

But not all of us will be going. The Bear has a game. The Hubs will stay home with the Bear. The Princess will be heading out with me to the shower.

Road trip!

I've already got a rental car reserved. I won't need my vehicle for the drive since it'll only be the two of us girls. We'll just be taking a mid-size sedan. Once we get to the car rental place on Friday, I'll see what we end up with. You know how they don't give you specific models for each location -- it's always a list of several vehicles. [sigh]

The Princess will be missing one full day of school. But that's because I refuse to drive at night.When I make these roadtrips, you all already know I start out in the morning. This way I'm fresh and awake. Plus my eyes get more tired at night -- darn contacts!

What I still do need to do is head over and buy LilSis and Shorty some gifts for their wee little one. I'll end up doing that sometime tomorrow or Wednesday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting Ready for Another Game

At the Bear's after-school request, the Hubs took the Bear to practice yesterday (Thursday).

On Wednesday night when the Bear was tired as a bug, he whimpered that he wanted me and his sister to bring him to practice. Thus, the Hubs figured he had the afternoon off from being chauffeur.!

I ended up staying home with the Princess. I made some fried-rice and mixed in some leftover grilled steak from the night before. It turned out SO yummy. But I digress!

When the Hubs and the Bear came home, they announced to me that Saturday's game would be at 11am. Both the Bear and the Hubs repeated this at least twice each.

Okay. Fine.

But this afternoon when I looked at the schedule posted on our pantry door, it said that Saturday's game would be at 9am.


So what did this Mom do? I could take the Hubs word to heart and just show up at 11am tomorrow. But me? I called the coach to verify.
Me: Hi Coach? This is Grace. The Bear's Mom?
Coach: Oh hi!
Me: I wanted to verify something with you. My husband told me that Saturday's game would be at 11am. The schedule says it's at 9am.
Coach: Oh yeah. It actually is at 9am. We were going to switch times with another group of players, but it didn't work out.
Me: So it IS at 9am tomorrow?
Coach: Yes.
Me: Okay. I'm glad I called. We'll see you tomorrow!
I am so glad that I called. We would have shown up at 11am and would have totally missed the Bear's game. And the Bear? He would have been devastated!

Crisis averted! [sigh of relief]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yes. I've been a slacker.

I've been in a mood lately.

You know what I mean.

Where everything feels yucky and you don't want to keep spreading yuckiness?

In the last ten days or so I've been taking some time to veg from writing. I've been reading y'all out there. I just haven't made myself sit down and write anything.

I've been taking a hiatus to just breath-in-and-out. Let life happen.

I think I'm better now. Not necessarily recharged, but in a better place.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

View an Inspirational Moment

You have GOT to watch this!

What do you think?

You CAN dream. Let your children dream.

Allow yourselves to spread your wings. To be just like this lady who had a dream. And she lived it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Keeping busy [updated]

Today the kids are home from school.

Yes. For some reason, my kids charter school decided that today would be an official vacation day. My kids are home while all the other schools around us are in session. [sigh]

So since there are no other kids at home today I'm having to figure out what to do with the kidlings.

I took them to get haircuts. My kids were the second two in the chairs at 9:15am. There were two gentlemen in the chairs getting their buzz cuts. Most likely police officers. Other than them? The place was empty. But as soon as the kidlings got in the chairs? People started walking in. Three people ended up in the waiting area when another man walked in. He saw us all in the waiting area and immediately walked back out. Too funny.

We came home and played a bit of ball on the driveway. The Bear practiced fielding ground balls. I played a little 'tennis' with the Princess. Once I got too hot? We came in. Snack time! I had to check emails from work to make sure there was nothing urgent I needed to take care of. Thankfully it was just the usual Friday crap from the gal who does 'less than stellar' work. I read the emails and have registered her usual mediocre list of work she's completed for the week.

Soon enough though? The kidlings and I will be headed out once again. I decided that we're going to see "Monsters vs Aliens" in 3-D!!!! Have any of you seen it?

---------------------- updated ----------------------

Oh WOW! The movie was so funny. Seeing the 3-D version of the movie was WELL WORTH the extra $5 per person admission price.

Now I've got to get a little bit of work done. But we'll be playing some Boggle in another hour or so after I've got some stuff under my belt.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Now I've made it official

I actually signed into our town's website and filed a formal complaint.

About my sucky neighbor and their habit of collecting trash. In their backyard.

I sent an email to a few people in February about the problem. I sent another email out in March. So today was the third time I brought up the issue. But this time it was on the town's request tracking system.

Not only did I file a formal complaint, I also emailed the person who was assigned to the complaint. I forwarded the latest photos of the backyard in question.

Take a look at what I saw just an hour ago:

Here's what it looks like from the back view-fence towards the front of their yard closest to the sidewalk. See the window screen on the ground?

Here's the trash right up against the back view-fence. Uncontained trash just sitting there.

Here's the trash piled towards the front of the sideyard next to the wood gate. It's kind of difficult to see in the 2nd photo because the trash is in the shadow of the fence.

Here's the trash right below the wood gate. More uncontained trash just sitting there in the yard.


I don't know what else to do people. Why isn't anyone in authority doing anything? It's not like these are the homeowners. They are renters. Can't the "authority" figures put pressure on the homeowner to kick these people out?

I'm so frustrated!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Enjoying an Arizona evening

The kids went to the backyard when the Hubs fired up the grill to do our steaks. Yes. We eat beef.

The Hubs pitched some balls so the Bear could practice a little while the grill cooked our food.

As always, the kids and the Hubs enjoy watching the animals that pass through the "green" belt behind our house. The "green" belt consists of the natural desert vegetation growing wild.

Here is what we see behind our grill fence. These yellow flowers behind our fence? There were filled with bees busily working to gather nectar before the sun went down.

Upon closer inspection I felt sad for that poor bush on the right in the photo below. It was basically a twig growing up from the ground.

But then upon even closer inspection there was actually something under the green bush. Do you see it?



Do you see it NOW?

Yes. A snake. Under a bush. BEHIND. OUR. HOUSE.

Guess what kind?

A rattlesnake. See the rattle?

Did you happen to notice that there are TWO striped bodies above? There were TWO rattlesnakes.

Ah...yes...nature....right there beyond our backyard. [gulp]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Phil on his own voyage

Did you know that Phil Keoughan is riding across America?

WHO is Phil?

He's the host of The Amazing Race.

Phil is riding from March 28 to May 8. Why is he riding? To bring awareness to and raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Isn't it great?

There's a website - - to check how the ride is going. What's great is that they're inviting people to meet up with Phil when he gets to their city/town. You can actually "see" where Phil is at on the map they've got. But here are some stops for the next few days.

April 7 - Pagosa Springs, Colorado

April 8 - Saguache, Coloraco

April 9 - Fairplay, Colorado

April 11 - Denver, Colorado

What's the best though? Phil is posting a daily video blog. They post a couple days after the actual DAY. Most likely because they've got to edit the footage. But it's GREAT! When I watch The Amazing Race I always smile when I see Phil. But this footage from the ride? He's even more personable (if that's even possible). In the first 6 days of the race Phil rode over 650 miles. He's already 9 days into the ride so he's probably close to 1000 miles under his belt.

Congratulations to Phil on what he's been able to accomplish so far on his own Amazing Race!!!!

Keeping busy on a beautiful day

Yesterday was another beautiful day here in the desert. Turned out to be about 80-something degrees. Wispy clouds in the sky with an every so slight breeze. Lovely!

Before we went to bed Saturday night, the Hubs and I agreed that we'd spend some time outside. Both our cars were filthy. So? We concluded that Sunday would be a good day to wash our cars.I got the kids outside around 10am to get started on my car. It was already nice enough outside that we were all in shorts and t-shirts. The Princess and the Bear each got to spray one side of my car. And each got to be responsible to scrub one side of the car. Keeping the kids separated kept the two from fighting. You KNOW what I mean.

The kids then helped the Hubs wash his car. You'd think that since the Hubs car is much smaller than mine (he's got a small sports car) that his would get done quicker. Right before they started to to wash the Hubs car, I left and went to the store about 1.5 miles from our house. I didn't linger in the store and was really quick since I only had to pick up one item. I was back home in a jiffy. When I got home I saw that the Hubs was about to let the kids rinse his car. I put a major stop on that decision. The kids arehad major gaps on where they actually cleaned the car. I had to do a 2nd pass at the Hubs car and scrub the spots where they'd "missed".

I had to grab something to eat after the cars were washed. I felt like I was going to pass out. The rest of them had breakfast and had already consumed a snack as well. So they stayed outside while I went in for something yummy. I ended up with a roast beef sandwich and strawberries. It was SO good. It's so nice to eat those sweet strawberries.

The Hubs and the kids stayed outside...and started to blow out our front yard. Yes. The Hubs gave each of the kids a chance at the blower. He's good about letting the kids do stuff. I ended up taking the blower from the Bear though when I came out. I wanted to get the dried sticks out from under our bushes.Our trees end up shedding when the weather changes. And when the tree sheds we end up with the little dried sticks ALL. OVER. our yard. It was actually really nice having the Hubs do it with me. The last time the yard got blown out I did it all myself. And it was TOO hard. I was thoroughly exhausted. This time the Hubs swept and gathered the blown out stuff from the sidewalk and into the trash. There was SO much crap that we blew off our yard. It was amazing. But our yard looks SO much better!!!!

How'd you spend your Sunday?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week i n Review Mar29 - Apr4

Here's the weekly wrap-up in pictures!

March 29 - Here's when I saw on the drive home from buying baseball socks for the Bear. I chose to go to a store that was about 15 miles away from our house. I chose it rather than the one that was actually 5 miles closer. Why? Because the closer one was in towards town. In the midst of traffic which I like to avoid at all costs. So the one that's further out of town allowed me to see this beautiful sight. Wide street. Low mountains on the horizon. No huge buildings around. Wouldn't you have gone to the store that is further too?

March 30 - When the Hubs and I got married we chose old-fashioned glasses to use everyday. We've been married 13 years and we're STILL using the same old-fashioned glasses. There are actually two glasses here in this photo. See that straw in the upper right? But I do adore our glasses. They're substantial - not flimsy at all.

March 31 - Oh...I couldn't stop myself from taking THIS photo. We're driving down another street going eastbound to home (just like the photo from the other day). The setting sun just about to hide behind the low mountains.

April 1 -Since I work from home I'm able to chose my own supplies. Hey, I pay for them so I get to select how I want to track my work. My favorite thing to log my daily work? One of these simple composition books. Yes. This is what I use to write down what accounts I work on and what I've done to each one. Using this instead of looseleaf paper helps keep everything together. It's easier for me to let my boss know what's going on and what I've done.

April 2 - Here's the Princess while we were at the Bear's weekly practice. She suddenly jumped up when she spotted a bug crawling on her flip-flops. She's 1000 times bigger than the bug but she still jumped up like NOBODY's busines. Too funny. You see her finger pointed on her left hand? She's actually telling me "MOM! There's a huge bug on my slipper!"

April 3 - Look at these beautiful cactus. Who knew that these prickly things could be nice to look at.

April 4 - Here's my little guy warming up for Saturday's game. Doesn't he look like a pro?The team in orange is who the Bear's team played. The Bear had a good time. I had a good time cheering. Of course, it was still a bit of a mess. They played three innings before their time on the field was up. After the game when we were walking to our car, I overheard the coach and assistant coach talking about the kids. I heard the coach say "..and Sebastian always has his eyes on the ball so he did good backing up the other boys..." So even the coach is recognizing my little guy's enthusiasm for the game. Yeah!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Keeping it together

When people start new things, there is often an adjustment period.

But as we grow older, we recognize our foibles. Those things that we know we need to improve upon. Some folks are constantly behind schedule. Some folks are less organized. Whatever it is, we learn how to compensate for our own personal problem areas.

As we get our children into activities, we need to show them how to be on top of things. To have an organized backpack for school. To pack enough food/snacks into a lunchbox. To wake up in enough time to get ready for the day. To gently remind them things that are scheduled for the day.

Because if we as parents aren't on top of our kids schedules? It becomes a big old mess. It does. We then show them that showing up on time isn't really important. We show them that finishing our assigned task (i.e. homework) isn't really important. We show them that not practicing their sport or their instrument isn't really important. We basically show them that it's okay to be a slacker.

Today was picture day for our baseball league. All the levels were having their photos taken. Individual and team photos. At practice on Thursday we parents were told that the kids needed to be there before 9:20am, so try to show up by 9:10am. The photos were taken at one of the 4 regular play fields. Because of this, a couple of the morning games were being held at a different park. The Bear's game was one of the two games held at the other park. The photos were at 9:20am, but the Bear's game didn't start until 10:30am. So the Hubs and the Bear came home after the photos were taken. It was good because the Bear was able to use the toilet and then get a good snack in.

We get to the other park and the kids started playing. I noticed a few kids on our team that were missing. The Coach's two kids and Bobby. The Coach's kids came about 10 minutes after the game started. They made it in time for our team's first at-bat. But 20 minutes after the game started Bobby finally showed up. Turns out that his Mom brought him to the regular field. Even though she was there on Thursday when the Coach said we were at the other park. And better yet? Bobby never made it for the photos. I guess they were still all asleep at 9am this morning and only got up to get ready for the 10:30am game.

Does anyone's kid actually sleep in past 9am on a weekend? My kids may sleep in but they are normally up and doing something by 8:30am at the latest.

What's interesting is that when some parents behind me spotted Bobby running across the field I overheard...
"There's that naughty boy."
"You know, the one who was yelling at his Mom and is rude."
I'm definitely not the only one who has seen this young boy behave poorly. But it makes me feel sad that he's already getting this type of response from people. I mean, he's only SIX. I can jsut imagine in my mind's eye that Bobby may end up being one of those "drop-outs" in life. [sigh]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Disrespectful much?

Yesterday I took the Bear to his weekly practice.

We showed up about 10 minutes early. I like to show up early so that the Bear could get get some extra practice in and get warmed up. I brought an extra baseball and had him practice fielding grounders. Kids started showing up and asked if they could join the Bear in fielding grounders with me. It was so nice for the kids to ask in such a polite manner.

Practice officially started and the coaches split the kids up into two groups. The first group practiced hitting at bat. The other group practiced fielding balls. About 20 minutes into practice Bobby showed up. I mentioned Bobby the other day, remember him? Bobby walked up to the right dug-out gate and stopped.
Bobby: Coach? Coach!
He waited to see if the coach that was helping kids bat heard him. He began again and included some arm waving with his yelling.
Bobby: Coach! COACH! COACH!
Coach: Bobby? Come on over buddy.
That would have driven me nuts. Bobby didn't walk up to the coaches and ask where they wanted him. He just yelled and yelled from the fence until someone heard him.

And where was his Mom you might be asking yourselves. She was still in her car. She had stopped the car and unloaded Bobby so he could run across to the practice field while she parked her car. And then Bobby did his yelling bit.

What would YOUR child do if he/she were in the same situation? Would he/she yell from the fence? Or would your child walk up to the closest coach and ask where he/she should go?

Yeah. This Bobby kid definitely has some behavior issues that I don't agree with. What's interesting is that Bobby has an older brother. And from what the Hubs and I have observed, Bobby's older brother doesn't act like his younger brother. We've seen him talk quietly to his Mom and haven't seen him yell at anyone. Not once.

Now my two kidlings? They have two VERY different personalities. But at least my kids? Their ability to listen and follow our family rules is pretty much the same. They understand how we want them to behave. How we want them to treat others. I guess Bobby and his brother are just different in every way. I guess I should be thankful my kids are more even-keeled.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Making Less = More Time Together

Now that I'm making less money than I did two years ago, I've had to make adjustments in my spending habits.

I still do take the time to indulge myself a little. I get my hair cut by a professional every 6 to 8 weeks. Not at a discount place either. I actually go to a "day spa" near my house. I love my hairdresser. I met her at one salon few years ago. She moved to her current location last year and I followed her over.

Something else that I haven't given up is fancy coffee. Every week or so, I stop by the $bucks near us and get my usual -- Venti Soy Caramel Macchiato. YUM! The people who work there are always pleasant and know my order.

I'm still able to buy the kids clothes as the seasons change. I've streamlined a bit. I don't buy them as much as I used to. I take a little more time to plan out colors to make sure that what I'm buying will be easily mixed-n-matched. And I don't buy everything at once. I take a few months now to accumulate their wardrobes for the season. I watch out for sales now where I didn't use to.

But for summer? The kids aren't going to summer camp this year. I may send them for one week, but that's such a change from summers past. The kids are going to be home. HOME! ARGH! But I did sign them up for swim lessons 2x per week. I also plan on taking them on weekly field trips to different places in and around our city. But they'll be home with me WAY more than in summers past.

So...HELP! What are some fun activities that you'd suggest for us to do at home. Any arts / crafts that we should be able to do without buying a whole bunch of stuff? Any easy / fun foods you'd suggest we make? Come on peeps, can you help a Mom out here?