Thursday, August 25, 2005

An Evening At The Roller Rink

My first "French" kiss was at the roller rink (no not last night). Good old Ken Hyde, and we were in Jr. High School. I remember nothing except thinking, "hm. This isn't as gross as I thought it would be."

There was a fund-raiser last night for the school. Both the girls were WAY excited. I knew there was no way out of it, especially when they jumped in the van after school donning a sticker that said, "Don't forget about Skateland tonight!" Oy.

OK, I was excited too. Girls night out at the roller rink. Skating with my girls. Mingling with the school-folk. It would be fun, if I didn't fall on my ass.

So, after waiting a half-hour in line to get in, we got our skates, then I got in the food line to get them a pizza for dinner. Twenty-minutes there, and had to help them both with their skates while waiting in line. Allison took off to find her friends as soon as I tied her laces, and Samantha went BOOM! right on her butt within 15 seconds.

She gingerly got her footing, and proceeded to get comfortable skating on the carpet, while I finally was able to put my skates on. Tadaaa!!!!! I looked around for my girls, and they were no-where to be found. Hmph. Finally I found Sam, but she didn't want to go out on the rink. She was enjoying skating down the ramp and catching herself at the last moment with the railing.

Then Allison. Well, I was not stepping in the love-triangle that is between her, her best friend, and the cute little boy between them. Yikes.

I then admitted defeat in my girls night out, and went to converse with the other parents.
Because, really when you think about it, that is where I belong now when I go to the roller rink.
I did get a couple times around though. And yes, it was fun.

And no, I didn't fall on my ass.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Another internet friend becomes real

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a fairly social person. I do the mom-thing, and have a few good friends in that arena. I often say I keep my social calendar fairly full because of my children. I party more now than I did pre-kids! (Note to self: get present for bday party Saturday.) I also have the school-mom thing, and a few friends there as well (Note to self: get tickets for school roller-skating party on Wednesday.) I even manage to make it out every now and then for a date with the hubby (note to self: talk to neighbors about starting up weekly date nights!)

The internet has become a good social outlet for me as well. I know this seems odd to some, but since there are times you can't get out when you would like to, it's a nice back-up plan. Now, don't get me wrong. There are a few people I talk to on the internet that I would pretty much rather not meet in person, and I'm perfectly happy to keep it that way. I've also been pretty lucky that the few I've met over the course of the last year, have not been insane asylum escapees. Of course I knew that before I met them all.

I think. Hmm...

So my latest victim, Marla, came into town this past week due to her husband's job. We've always had good talks online, and I was excited to show her around town while her husband was out at work. My kids also went back to school last week, so I didn't have to juggle them too much either. Though after dragging her around on my errands the first day, I was sure I wouldn't see her for the rest of the week!

It was a good time. We walked Chandler Mall, and I was able to show her my old stomping grounds by taking her to Downtown Tempe and wandering around for the day (you pass my old high school and ASU on the way). Then yesterday we had her and her husband over for dinner, so they could meet the rest of the family. I could also reassure my husband of whom I had really just spend the last week with. ;-)

The kids enjoyed meeting them and their dog, Piper, making sure to run the poor thing ragged while they were over. Bret enjoyed meeting them too, as well as the fact I actually cooked a meal that wasn't in a box or delivered. :-)))

She's got her own photo blog with shots from her trip. I think I might even be in one of them! Check out her Wicked Wanderings here

Who will be my next victim? Who knows what the future will hold. For now, it's off to get the birthday present I mentioned above.

And knowing I have another friend in the world. That's a good feeling. :-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

First Day Of School

Oooh they were excited. Awake, dressed and asking if it was time to go an hour before it was time to go.

New outfits, and new transitions. Youngest one officially school-age now, Kindergarden.

Though no one, I say NO ONE, happier than me.
Yet, still a little sad. :-)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Weekend at Standwell Day 2

We woke up this morning to the sun shining. And the cowbell at the main cabin ringing for breakfast. The girls bounced up, dressed and went off to have breakfast. Bret showered, and I just lay there a bit longer, not having slept well all night. Finally Allison poked her head in and said very formally, "Mother, won't you join us?"

I got up after that.

Today was spent working. Well, at least for Bret anyhow. A previous storm had downed one of the pine trees around the cabin, and Bret helped cut the trunk up to replace the older stumps around the campfire area.

This turned into quite a task. The first few cut fine but Bret quickly came to a literal impasse with the roots of the tree (which we determined to be 150 years old thanks to Allison's careful ring-counting). 30 minutes after working on it, we all had lunch. After lunch, he returned, and TWO HOURS LATER he finally broke through the stubborn root. Even the chainsaw came apart and had to be fixed in the middle of it all. It was cute, Bret working on that trunk with his grandfather right there supervising. Though I think he was just using every bit of willpower not to jump in to help. Which he did a bit, but Bret told me later he wanted to make sure he finished it, so his grandfather didn't attempt it himself. Which he certainly would have.

The girls spent much of the day playing with the hammock, pushing each other in it, sitting in it together, and arguing over who spent more time in it. I was glad the day stayed sunny so they could spend the day exploring and getting comfortable with their surroundings.

Since the weather was agreeable, we were able to cook our meal outside. Just hot dogs, but this time is wasn't so swampy, so the girls could help. Then we roasted marshmallows again, but outside around the campfire. Everyone loved it, and I could see GG and Grumpy were very pleased to have the next generation begin their memories around the campfire.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Weekend At Standwell Day One

**transposed from scribblings that came from some long, thin stick thing that dripped blue liquid, and made strange, nearly unledgible markings on very thin pieces of bark.

It's sometime after lunch.

I say this because I honestly have no idea what time it is. We arrived about 12:30 and had lunch, so I'm sure it's somewhere in the before 3pm area. The entire week Bret has been all giddy, because we were coming up to the cabin this weekend. I know he feels somewhat guilty about not spending more time with his Grandparents, so this was a great way to reconnect with them, as well as give the girls a formal introduction to some Cutler history.

(I just need to add that as I sit here writing rain is pouring down in sheets with thunder booming in the distance. I'm actually chilly in my shorts and t-shirt, unlike when we have the storms down in the valley. I AM IN HEAVEN.)

Standwell. An appropriate name for a project that actually could be the core of the Cutler family. Started 25 years ago and built over a ten-year period, everyone had a hand in building the place. I can remember back in High School Bret asking me up one of those weekends. Of course my parents never allowed it (gee, why?), and back then I had no idea I would have many chances later in life to spend time here.

9:39 pm
So now we all sit here in bed. The girls are on the air mattress next to our bed in the bunkhouse. Bret is reading a chapter of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to them, and I am finally having a moment to catch up from earlier today.

The rain poured down so hard this afternoon the kids could not even play in it anymore, then G.G. and Grumpy (as they are affectionately called by the girls) took their afternoon nap in the main cabin. Bret had drove back down to Payson (60 miles away) because silly us forgot to grab the sweaters on our way out the door this morning. So I tried my best to keep the very not-tired girls entertained and semi-calm in the very cramped quarters. During the times the rain would let up, they would run back outside, only to come back 5 minutes later with the next down pour. So I gave up on writing for the afternoon.

Once Bret returned, the rain let up for the last time that afternoon, so he went outside with them and I dozed a bit. Later, the girls took great joy in helping Grumpy bring in wood for the fireplace. We were planning on a campfire for dinner outside, but the rain was enough to turn the campfire area into a small swampland. We changed our plan to the dinner we had brought for the following evening, BBQ beef ribs and corn-on-the-cob.

We quickly encountered our next dilemma when we couldn't find something proper to cook them in the oven. Finally Bret decided to try the campfire, at least in which to cook the main course. He got it lit, and within 30 minutes or so had enough of the moisture that was underneath burned off to cook them. I had prepped them while he was doing so (yes folks she knows one or two things beyond mac-n-cheese in a box about cooking), and long story short we had a most excellent meal.

As Bret and I cleaned up, the girls watch excitedly as Grumpy fed the fire more wood. They had never roasted marshmallows before, and due to the wet outside, Grumpy bent his "rule" about using the inside fire for cooking so they would not miss out.

I love watching the girls with their Great-Grandparents and seeing how they relate with them. They are both SO quiet and reserved! Yet, they are each unique in their relating. Allison is more distant. Not quite uncomfortable, but she has a tad more stiffness about her than Sam. That is just Allison though. Heh, she was the only one at dinner who wanted her meat cut off the rib bone, unlike the rest of us savages!

Sam was quiet, but it was more of a careful, emotional connection. She was aware of the fact that they couldn't move the way the rest of us did, and was just very gentle around them. I had to let her know that it was ok to yell at Janet when talking to her, since her hearing is so bad. Later in the evening she took me aside and said simply, "I love GG and Grumpy."

Bret's grandparents amaze me. 85 and 83, they still trek up to Standwell several times during the summer all on their own. I can only hope to still be so full of life at that age. Gives me something to strive for, and look forward to.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

TiVo enters my world

OK... so we changed satellite providers. Husband found a deal. I've learned after 12 years of marriage with this man, that, when he finds a deal that will save money, you do not question. You WILL save money. And if I had a nickel for every time I doubted... ok I would have like 20 cents. ;-)

So my butt is up for the installer dude, who thank goodness comes promptly at 8am rather than me waiting around all morning. He puts it all together, then gives me the crash course in using the remote. Channels.. guide.. blah blah blah-

"Now if you want to record something you are currently watching, you can just press this button, and have it record either on the main tv, or upstairs on the bedroom tv."

Ooh. Nice...

Then he shows me the finer points of pausing live tv, and how when the TV isn't live, you can fast forward right through the commercials.

Oooohhh... me likey....

So he leaves, and my kids ask me to put on some cartoons for them. I find the channel, and show them the pause button.

For the rest of the day this is what I hear:

"Pause it! I have to leave the room!"

"Pause it! I have to go to the bathroom!"

"Pause it!"

It seems my kids likey too..

Me? I'm just happy that I finally got my HBO from a previous deal with my husband. I said I would stop my Stephen King book-of-the-month club (I had been replacing all my paperbacks with hardback copies of his books- I'm so proud of my collection!) if I could get movie channels on the tele.

I stopped my membership about a year ago.

Heh. Told you he knows how to save money.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Down-Home Country Wedding in Gilbert

Seems it's the year of the wedding for us. This one, however, was a little closer to home. Not just in the same town we live in, but it was Bret's cousin, Leigh.

We were concerned. Not by the match up of course. Seems the Rodeo Queen found herself a nice cowboy. We have met him a couple of times, and he's just the sweetest thing. But we knew this was taking place at a local barn that was converted into a reception hall, and that the wedding was taking place outside. In August. In the middle of monsoon season, when it is not only signature-Arizona hot, but muggy and stormy every evening as well. I was worried about the Grandparents having to sit in the heat. I was worried about exposing my children to country music (sorry, but you can take the girl out of the city...).

By that afternoon we were hoping that a storm wouldn't blow in more than anything else. I couldn't help but think of my wedding day and those concerns that engulfed me. But as we made it to the site, the sun was shining (blaring), and people were staying in the hall keeping cool until the ceremony was about to begin. Bret's grandparents had arrived all ready, and Janet had a beautiful ring of flowers on her head, which I found out later was from her 60th wedding anniversary (this is significant later). We arrived with the bulk of the Cutler family, then something really funny happened. A young woman came up to Bret's dad and his wife Nadine, and hugged them. It turned out to be a second cousin who no one had seen since before even Bret and I were married. I had never met her myself. Blast from the past, as they say. That's not even the funny part. After she walked off, Bret's dad asked me what cousin that was. I looked at him like he was kidding and said, "uh, it's Faith, Bert." The light went on, as he had kept the scenario going as he went through the motions of hugging this person who was a stranger until 5 seconds after I told him.

Then it was time for the ceremony, and we all went and sat down. Valina flew in for the wedding, and my girls sat with her. They had missed her! I was sitting next to Bret, until he realized he wouldn't be able to video the wedding from our seats. So I got to sit all by my lonesome for the ceremony. I knew I should have brought a date! Teeheee... It was certainly hot, but we had no reason to complain when I looked at the father(s) of the bride, and all the groomsmen. Decked out in black, topped off with black hats. The setting sun hit them just as they reached the altar.

It was short, sweet, and absolutely beautiful. They had a violin/cello duo playing, which again took me back to my wedding. I also realized that we were the last Cutler wedding before this one, 12 1/2 years ago. Leigh was barely in high school then I believe. Of course, I was barely OUT of high school, but that is another story altogether...

The reception was of course, your typical reception fare. With that country twist, but I'm happy to say they had a great mix of just about everything. The most profound part of the evening started out as a dance. Silly actually, all married couples dance, and they get picked off two-by-two based on how long they have been married. The last two couples on the floor- one who had been married 39 years, and the Cutler Grandparents.

Married 63 years.

When asked "advice" for the bride and groom, they both had only one thing to say.

"Just love," said Janet.

"Say I love you when you wake, and say I love you before you sleep," said Bert.

By this time, when I looked at the Cutler's who had all gathered together, there was not a dry eye to be found. Bret's dad, he seemed to touch me the most. The Cutler men always seemed to have this rough, brooding demeaner to me. But on the inside they are just mush, and I love that. Then it went a step further, and they played their wedding song, and this time I didn't have a dry eye.

As my husband and I danced with the other Cutler generations, I looked up at him and the sparkle of tears in his eyes as well. He looked at me, a tad embarrassed, and said, "I just love them."

Big mushy Cutler men.

Then there was your regular dancing. Allison really enjoyed dancing with her daddy. Sam danced with her Nana Sue, me, and her sister as the evening went on. Allison went out and was christened to the "Rock Lobster" by her Aunt Val.

Just before we left the reception, I was a bit worried that this wedding would force some "birds and bees" talk between me and my older daughter. They did the bouquet toss, and I teased Bret telling him I was going to go out and try and catch it. (I can't imagine why he didn't appreciate that!) :-) THEN was the garter. Oy. Allison had a front row seat, and I thought back to my wedding once again, when Bret took mine off with his teeth.

Welllll.... the groom lifted the dress, and disappeared right under the skirt. After a bit, he came up and looked around mockingly, claiming he hasn't found anything yet, then dove back under. Now, I found this quite funny actually. I was thinking he should have had a flashlight or something, and come out with different props every time during his "hunt". But Allison was standing right there, a bemused but obviously confused look on her face. As good parents, we quickly explained that the bride wore a garter, it was tradition, and got the heck out of there. LOL!

More photos here.

It's amazing how weddings bring out the best in people. For me, it actually felt just like any other family gathering we have had with all the Cutler's, full of love and laughter- just better dressed.

After all this time, though I was not worried in the least, I found that I am still proud to be one.

Monday, August 01, 2005

What hot, bored AZ peeps do

Because what are we gonna do, go outside?

Limerick competition was heated
AZ Republic
Jul. 31, 2005 12:00 AM

And now the moment we've all been waiting for - the winner of this year's Gloriously Magnificent and Really Big Valley 101 Hot Weather Limerick contest.

First, a few words about the judging: Yes, your limerick was clearly better than the winner's. I don't know what I was thinking. I am clearly a moron who has no taste and knows nothing about limericks. There, do you feel better?

I bet there were at least 900 or 1,000 entries. I got them down to 12 or so and with the help of my lovely assistant, I finally made the crucial final call.

Some of the runners-up were really good. This one is from Margaret Clark:

My attorney said I'll get half.
But I really wanted the last laugh.
He was surely a louse.
He can have the hot house,
Cuz, Ha! I got the cabin in Flagstaff.

This one isn't bad. It's by Bob Craig of Phoenix.

The minister's wife dressed discreetly.
And greeted parishioners sweetly.
But she has her fun
In the hot summer sun.
In her back yard she disrobes completely.

I really liked this one a lot. It's from Don Goguen of Scottsdale.

As limericks go this flies straight.
An anagram meant not to try fate.
Mixing letter-by-letter,
You'll surely feel better
When encountering DRY HEAT, just HYDRATE.

There were about eight or 10 more that were well above average, but I don't have room for them. (Sorry, Ollie Briggs. And Brittainy Stapley, that was pretty good for a 10-year-old. )

And now, at long last the winner. Joe Orlando of Mesa gets top honors for this.

The haboob blows through here each year.
I view it with loathing and fear.
Not wind, rain or lightning
Is what I find frightening.
I hate getting dust in my beer.

Good one, huh? There's just one problem. When I told him he'd won the Diamondback tickets, Orlando said he would be giving them away to a shelter or some charity because he's a Yankees fan. A Yankees fan. Of course, by then it was too late because I'd already told him he had won. I could hardly take it back. Next year I think I'll make you guys put your baseball affiliations on your entries. A Yankees fan. Jeez.

Ahhh... Monsoon

It hasn't even tipped the 100 degree mark today. There were storms all weekend. I love this time of the summer- because it means it's almost OVER!!!

Yes, I was out there with them for awhile.. my Mom has the pictures of that though. ;-)