Thursday, October 18, 2007
Papaya: Mommy, you're going to get a new husband!
Me: A new husband?! But I don't want a new husband! I love the one I already have! I plan to keep my current husband as long as we're both living.... (out of curiosity)... who would my new husband be?
Me: But if you become my husband, then who would be your daddy? Right now my husband is your daddy. Wouldn't you be sad if he weren't your daddy any more?
Papaya: I will be my daddy!
After some thought, he dealt with his womb envy by composing the following song and singing it to me (my brother-in-law the poet will be gratified to see he didn't feel the need to make it rhyme):
"I have a brain
And you have a womb
But when you look deeper
We both have a head!"
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The Pilot & the model:
The Monday after our camping trip was Labor Day, and we celebrated it with our church by a cookout at the edge of Third Mesa. This has been the best workout for our new Pilot so far. We really navigated some big rocks & grades! But we made it, transporting a few people while the church's pick-up and attached trailer took the rest:
Here are a few of the cute church kids (including ours):
Receiving all the fun boxes of books, getting started with a bit more of a structure in our house, and planning out the next few years of homeschooling pretty much consumed the next few weeks our my life. It is nice to have something a bit more focused to do with myself & the kids during the day - they go much faster!
Before we knew it, the Banana's second birthday was upon us! She's grown up fast. Sometime I really will write a longer, more pointed entry just about her and what a fun little girl she is. Here she is, enjoying the birthday cake we took to the church potluck a few days before her birthday:
Despite having reached the great age of 2, the Banana remains petite and can actually fit into a smallish mailing box:
The day after I found out I was pregnant, we left home for an intense 16 mile round trip hike down to Supai and back. Supai is a small town on an Indian reservation at the bottom of a contributary canyon to the Grand Canyon (not the national park, but a portion of the Grand Canyon west of the national park). As well as being the only place in the United States where the mail is still delivered by mule, it's also famous as being an access point for the breathtakingly beautiful Havasupai waterfall and a couple other waterfalls formed by Havasu Creek. We were fortunate to have two good friends (formally mission school teachers) who are now living there and doing some tough teaching work at the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) elementary school. And we thought we were isolated - they have to hike 8 miles out of the canyon and drive 1 1/2 hours to do their grocery shopping, then drive back & carry everything 8 miles back down to their apartment!
It was a tough but beautiful hike. We had to watch out for the mule trains, which paused for nobody, but that also added some interest. Here's the view from near the beginning of our hike. Our trail follows the canyon and our stopping point is right at the foot of the smallish butte you can barely see in the distance.
Here we are, taking a much desired break:
The next day, after a refreshing night in our friends' apartment, we hiked a couple miles further and came to the beautiful waterfall that made it all worthwhile:
The hike back up (2000 feet elevation gain, 8 miles long) was not as bad as we thought it would be (although the final climb was still fairly brutal), and we made it in five hours.
The part of the trail that followed the creek in the early morning was, again, breathtakingly beautiful:
We were disappointed that no matter how long Papaya Daddy's brother & I waited at this point, mid-hike, the bus never came.
Luckily, there are still distractions from the unpleasantness, like this recent hailstorm (anyone who knew me from childhood will understand my fascination with hail):
It's much more comfortable to admire the beautiful resulting photos from my warm living room.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Wow, it's been a long time since my last entry. I don't have a lot of time right now, but here's a quick update, as well as an introduction to our newest family member and a farewell to a long-time, much-abused but faithful-to-the-end family member.
In the last few weeks, the following notable things happened to our family:
*I bravely caught a wolf spider & humanely removed it from our house, instead of squishing it flat. Although I'm not yet comfortable with the idea of cohabitation (especially since it crawled out of a toy the Banana was holding), I've come a long way since this entry.
*A psychiatrist and his family (currently living in Alaska) came here to interview this week. They like it, and will probably move here in early December. They have a 4-year-old! Boy! And they're nice! It's hard to tell who's more excited - the Papaya or I. Either way, it's an answer to prayer, since he's been getting lonely lately without any playmates.
*The Banana completed her last free airplane flight as a lap child. Since her birth, she has taken 11 free roundtrips through the skies, including one all the way to Germany & back (actually, we had to pay a little for the international portion of that). I'd say we've gotten our money's worth. I can also say that my lap is looking forward to being empty on the next airplane trip.
*We had a great trip to North Carolina that included a lovely night with appdaddy & Queen Felicia (aka our wonderful aunt & uncle) and a fabulous week in an oceanfront Kure Beach house with all my family.
*We survived yet another on-the-road vomiting virus, which struck the Papaya first in the middle of the night and spread (with varying degrees of intensity) to most other family members.
*We received word via cellphone, halfway through the beach vacation, that our '98 Toyota Corolla workhorse, dropped off at a garage in Phoenix prior to our departure in order to have an oil leak assessed, required extensive repairs that would cost more than it was worth.
*We spent several hours over the next couple days employed in the following fun beach activities: huddling over my brother-in-law's computer in McDonalds (where we could pick up wireless), analyzing vehicles on Consumer Reports; engaging in deep discussions with each other & soliciting advice from the extended family; making scores of calls to various Phoenix car dealers & waiting for them to call us back; and agreeing to buy a particular vehicle (sight unseen) over the phone.
*We arrived back in Phoenix last Saturday evening & picked up our faithful Lydia (Corolla) from the garage. The next morning, we drove her to Showcase Honda to trade her in & buy our pre-reserved Honda Pilot 2007. To our great relief, the vehicle was as described (brand new), and the absolutely incredible price was as promised. Within three hours, I was transferring all our luggage & junk into our beautiful new SUV. Soon afterwards we were driving away, slightly dazed that it had all been so easy. We didn't even have our checkbook or the title to our old Corolla with us (we hadn't been planning to buy a new car). No problem! We were still the proud owners of Papaya Daddy's dream car. (We did promise to actually mail a check to pay for the vehicle when we got home.)
*Within the first two hours of driving the Pilot from Phoenix to Flagstaff, we accomplished what it took six years of driving Lydia to do: we doubled the mileage (it helped that the Pilot's mileage was 126 when we bought it, as opposed to the 80,000 miles that were on the Corolla when we purchased it!)
*I have become something I never thought I would be (and still regard with some sheepishness): the owner of a new SUV. We will, however, use this SUV for the purpose for which it was intended: we hope to explore the many enticing dirt roads that surround us, that have hitherto been denied us (or should have been denied us). Although so far, I haven't done anything more than try various dirt roads (about 100 meters long) connecting the main highway to the post office.
*We now have a vehicle that is actually large enough to accommodate guests (it seats 8)! No more renting cars for visitors (if they number more than 1) or contorting my body in a poor attempt to crookedly and uncomfortably squeeze my hips between the two car seats in the back of the Corolla (if it is a single guest). No more jigsaw puzzle maneuvering to fit our mammoth grocery purchases in a small trunk & roof box! And, most tantalizing, we now have ample car space for a third child - a possibility that creates emotions in the Papaya Daddy ranging from ambivilence to palpable fear & trembling.
Welcome to the family, [still unnamed but definitely male - any ideas?]
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Then I got a phone call from our pastor's wife. "They need a piano player at a K-town funeral at 10:00 this morning!" she said. "Can you do it?"
A little background: we don't go to the K-town church, nor do I know anybody connected with the funeral (they don't know me, either). I'm not that excellent a piano player, and not that great a sightreader. I never practice these days, although I occasionally play on Sunday mornings at our church. K-town is about a 20 or 25 minute drive away, it's already 8:40, & I have two small children who can't just take care of themselves during a possible 2 hour funeral service. The songs requested are all from the Hopi hymnal, & there's only one that I know I've encountered before.
So I say, "Sure! I think I can get there on time! Can you guys help with the kids?"
I jump into hyperdrive - I call the Hopi man in charge of the service to let him know I'll be there, dress the Banana, stick the kids in front of a video, shower & dress myself & try to look presentable as a funeral pianist, get the diaper bag & water ready, sunscreen the kids, get the Papaya to the bathroom, buckle them in the car, and head off with time to spare. I hope I'll have a chance to try a couple of the hymns on the church piano before the service begins.
Lest you feel overly impressed by (or shocked at) my alacrity at accepting such an invitation, know that I've done this once before - when the Banana was exactly 6 days old. My mother was there to help with the preparation & child care, which made that instance a little easier - but at least this time, I don't have to squeeze a freshly post-partum body into appropriate non-maternity funeral attire, or cross my arms over my chest to avoid let-down midservice when I hear the Banana crying in the back of the church. I also have a little less stage fright at facing around 100 mourners & knowing that I'm completely unprepared and will probably make mistakes.
Once I arrive at K-town church, I do have about five or ten minutes to look at the songs & practice before the service starts. I practice in fits & starts, as family members begin to trickle in & my kids pound on the treble & bass regions of the piano. It turns out that from the four songs selected for the service, I am familiar with two, slightly familiar with one (translation of "Oh, Happy Day!" with some difference in the rhythm & a line or two of Hopi musical addition thrown into the middle of each verse - I end up accompanying the church choir for this during the service), and have a hard time feeling like I "get" the meter & rhythm of the final song, which I have never heard before. I end up having some serious problems with this in the actual service, since it appears that the way it is actually sung differs from the way it is written (i.e. long pauses over several of the notes, an actual meter change from 3/4 to 4/4 for a couple of bars.) By the time we get to the last stanza, I am basically on the same wavelength as those singing. It's a pity it was the final song!
During the long service (it turned out to be almost 2 hours with spontaneous eulogies in the middle & the viewing at the end), the kids have a wonderful time with the 20 year old pastor's son & a pre-teen girl (a member of another family living & helping at the church) who show up to babysit. Such a good time that I start to tense up as the kids' squeals of enjoyment from the Sunday School room attached to the sanctuary threaten to distract from the eulogies. I finally stick my head in & they end up moving the operation outside, to my immense relief.
After the less-than-successful final song & a prayer, the service leader coordinates the viewing - something like a receiving line at a wedding, except the open coffin takes the place of the wedding party. As people begin to line up, I sit awkwardly on the piano stool and wonder if I can sneak away. But no - one of the organizers leans over to me and says, "Can you play something?" This is very awkward - I don't know many songs from the Hopi hymnal, have no idea how to find the songs I do know (because I don't remember their Hopi names), & definitely don't want to pick one at random and struggle through sightreading it during the viewing. After some quick anguished reflection, I start to play through the songs we have already sung (except for the last one). By the time I get through those, I feel a little calmer, find a Hopi song I know from church, & start to play it. Unfortunately, the melody ends up sounding a little too upbeat and I get the uncomfortable feeling that the Hopi words are expressing how happy the singer is (by this time, people are crying pretty hard as they look into the coffin only about ten feet away from me). I quickly finish that, play what had been announced as the deceased man's favorite song again (ironically, the Hopi version of "Oh, Happy Day"), and search for new inspiration. By this time, people are wailing & throwing themselves on top of the coffin & I am really feeling awkward. I pick up the English hymnal & look up "Amazing Grace", because at least I know it well, then work on from there. Finally, it looks as if things are winding down, so I ask the orgainizer if he needs more music. He says no, so I thankfully slip out, pack up the kids, and drive home while heaving large sighs of relief. I haven't felt so much displacement in a while!
At least it was a break from the ordinary!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
As the rain lessens, the kids venture past the safety of the driveway and the garage shelter to the alluring gutter puddles.
The Banana removes her shoes for maximum gutter puddle enjoyment.
Ready to join the gang!
Making big splashes. A kid's life during an Arizona summer doesn't get much better than this.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
We recently planted some grass & wildflower seed in our front yard. Every evening, we water the area we planted until it is sitting in a pool of water. By noon of the next day, the ground that held a puddle the night before looks like this:
At least there's some green there - a near miracle, in this weather!
Papaya Daddy is off today, but it's too hot to do much. Understandably, Independence Day is not a huge holiday among the Hopi Indians (although it is more popular than Columbus Day). They do seem to love fireworks, though, so we might see a few of those if we sit out in our yard tonight. Hopefully, the pyrotechnics won't spawn any real fires in this crispy environment.
Here's hoping that the summer monsoons begin soon! Even a few clouds would be welcome!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Considering the challenges of long airplane travel, a 9 hour time difference, a virus that got us all but hit the Papaya especially hard, and a painful emerging incisor for the Banana, the kids were great travellers. We spent the first few days (at a friends' house in Kaiserslautern) mostly enjoying the green humidity, walking to the excellent local bakery & buying cheap, fresh bread, watching the five kids (ours & our friends') play together, and admiring the beautiful flowers everywhere. We spent the next few days in the green, rolling hills region of Bavaria, staying with Papaya Daddy's folks & visiting small villages, castle ruins, and large cathedrals in bigger towns. We did a beautiful, short river cruise with towering cliffs on either side of us and enjoyed a little bit of Germany's wonderful rail system. Then we traveled to the mountain region of Bavaria & took in the breathtaking scenery of the Alps. We rode a cog rail train that ascended a couple thousand meters towards the peak of Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak (on the Austria border), then got on cable cars that took us almost the rest of the way up (some stairs, a ladder, and a few well placed cables facilitated our climb to the very summit). We rode more cable cars to an indescribably lovely alpine hiking base called Alpspitze. We toured the bizarre Wagnerian-opera fantasy castle that Mad King Ludwig built in the late 1800's. On the way back to Frankfurt for our flight home, we stayed the night in a converted monastery inside Rothenburg, an amazingly preserved medieval walled city.
We packed a lot into a short two weeks! And we are tired.
1. Nice mix of the old and the modern. Lots of history - almost every town has its own castle ruins, cathedral, or both. But the houses had (on the indoors) a nice, modern, clean-lines, Ikea-like style that we favor. There were all kinds of well-made, convenient features - like heated floor tiles, roulades at all the windows, cool toilet flush mechanisms (you could choose big flush or little flush each time), big bathrooms, heated towel racks, etc.
3. Good, cheap bakeries. Good cheese. Great cheap produce. Cherries everywhere, basically falling off trees (it was the season for them). Very good, cheap chocolate. You can buy great food from all the EU countries without paying import tax.
Waiting in the Phoenix Airport, full of energy & excitement (at least the kids are).
View of Eibsee from cog train (on the way up to Zugspitze)
View into Austria from Zugspitze cafeteria (Austrian side)
Heaven (aka Alpspitze) - see the cable car?
More heaven. Hiking trails everywhere, from easy to expert
Not a bad place to kick up your feet
Coffee & cake break
"Climb every mountain..."
Picking a dandelion bouquet for Mommy
Walking the old city walls in Rothenburg