Thursday, October 18, 2007

Maybe Freud was right...

A recent conversation in our house:

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?

Papaya: ME!

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!

Young sexist

Since I got pregnant, we've been teaching the Papaya a simplified version of the birds & the bees. As a part of this, we explained to him that the Banana & I both have wombs - places where babies can grow inside our bodies - but that he doesn't.

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

So much to share!

After a shameful and eventful 2-month hiatus from this blog, I'm finally back - with a lot of news. It's always hard to know where to start after having been away so long, so I'll use the easy method of showing pictures (each worth 1000 words, so as to make up for all my non-blogging) and filling in the gaps in-between to share about our lives for the last 1/6 of the year.

Soon after my last post, in which I gleefully introduced our new family member (the Honda Pilot, still not named), we decided to try her out with a family camping trip to Oak Creek Canyon.

All our gear fit beautifully, and we were happy to learn, after a strong thunderstorm erupted right after we got it set up, that our tent really was waterproof, as advertised.
Our campsite was right next to beautiful Oak Creek, and we could hear the creek as we went to sleep at night.
The hot air balanced the freezing creek water nicely, and was great fun to wade and spash in. The Papaya & his Daddy tried their hardest to do things that would put a bit of a scare into my heart:
We started off our first morning with a scrumptious pancake breakfast, accompanied by real maple syrup and great coffee made in a French press (yeah, we really rough it on these camping trips)...
...and then we hit the road, excited about taking the Pilot on a Sedona back road we had always wanted to explore with the Corolla but been unable to. Passing all the professional Pink Jeep tours as we drove further into the backcountry made us feel adventurous.

The Pilot & the model:
We parked our vehicle and hiked to one of Sedona's famed "vortex" rock formations. New Agers believe vortex sites have especially concentrated cosmic energy & seek them out. All we've noticed about them is that they're all unusually beautiful. Despite the plebian name of this vortex site ("CowPies"), it was no exception. It was full of shallow depressions that had been filled with water during the thunderstorm the day before and reflected the red rock spires all around:
The kids, surrounded by enormous puddles surpassing their wildest dreams, drew their own inspiration from the scene:

Things gradually got muddier and muddier...
We did the best we could with baby wipes and less-muddy water from the puddles. But it's safe to say the kids have done as much to break in our new Pilot as the bumpy roads we drive it on.

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:
The kids clambered all over the boulders & had a wonderful time, while the adults built a fire, cooked hamburgers & brats, chatted, & hoped their kids wouldn't plunge off the edge of the mesa. Save for a few minor falls, nothing of the sort happened, and it was a wonderful and beautiful evening.

Here are a few of the cute church kids (including ours):
Labor Day this year is eventful for more than the church cook-out. Spurred on by some problems the local mission school has had this year as well as by observing the somewhat fun atmosphere of the homeschool going on at our church (they're now schooling 10 kids, including one high-schooler still reading at a 2nd grade level after going through the local schools here), I had started to consider, just a little bit, in the back of my mind, the idea of homeschooling. On Labor Day I decided to use my free time (Papaya Daddy had both kids) to browse online and see what kinds of homeschooling curriculum were available. I ended up finding a literature-based curriculum (it has an unfortunate name, in my opinion) that I fell in love with. I showed Papaya Daddy & he was very impressed, as well. Their educational philosophy mirrors our own and boy, do they have a great selection of books! We also love how flexible they are, while at the same time saving their customers a lot of work putting together their own curriculum. We're impressed with their intercultural & international focus. It seems a little pricey, but you're paying for a lot of great books that will be in your house forever, plus it's completely re-usable for each successive child.
To make a long story short, we ended up ordering the Core B package for the Papaya, as well as some extras (language arts, handwriting, math) that will allow me to stretch it out over two years to cover his kindergarten year next year. We also ended up getting most of the fabulous Core A books (pretty much everything we didn't already own). Since we live 2 hours from the nearest decent library and rarely get there, I'm thrilled to suddenly have a great preschool literature collection! We've been doing informal "school" since then - basically, just reading & a little other work each day. It's been great fun & it's nice to have a little more structure to our days. We all enjoy it. The kids love the books & it's fun to see Papaya interacting with (acting out, talking about) something other than the Cars plot & characters! Papaya Daddy teaches a little bit of math some mornings before he runs off to work & this, I think, is the Papaya's favorite part of the day! I'm so impressed with this curriculum & am having so much fun with the idea of homeschooling that I'm ready to do it indefinitely. I think it will be good for the Papaya, especially, and it will really fit in with Papaya Daddy's schedule (he often works a weekend, followed by a four-day comp weekend. With homeschooling, we can do the same thing and enjoy his time off together without pulling kids out of school!) I'm excited about getting into some of the more advanced cores (like this one) - I want to read the books myself!

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:
On her actual birthday, she got sweet cereal for breakfast & that evening, some ice cream with candles stuck in it as well as presents. She had a great time opening them & said a satisfying "Whoa!" after tearing open each present or card.

Despite having reached the great age of 2, the Banana remains petite and can actually fit into a smallish mailing box:
Here's the Papaya, looking dapper the morning of the Banana's birthday:
On the weekend after the Banana's birthday, we began to suspect that our lives and family might be changing dramatically and unexpectedly in the next year (and for many years after that). As the days continued to go by, our suspicions deepened. Finally, by Wednesday, I couldn't stand the suspense any more. Not wanting to drive 80 miles to the nearest grocery store or pharmacy, I made a trip to our local shopping metropolis - a tiny, rather dingy, and overpriced convenience store. With great embarassment and little hope, I waited until all other customers were out of the way and asked the man behind the counter if he had any pregnancy tests (since all pharmacy-like items were stored off limits). He actually did, and sold me a "Western Family" test on the spot. Despite our attempts at family planning, it was decisively conclusive, and the Papaya Daddy and I have been adjusting to the news (with increasing degrees of of happiness and excitement) ever since. Our new family member is due just about the time of the Papaya's birthday next May.

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!
We took Papaya Daddy's brother, both kids on backpacks, and all of our stuff for two nights, as well as 8 quarts of water and some snacks. Papaya Daddy & his brother carried a child each, while I took everything else. Since I was pregnant, they also tried to take most of the water - kind of nice for me (although I still ended up carrying close to 30 pounds)! We also brought a ton of groceries with us for our two friends. These 2 women hiked up 8 miles from their home in the morning, carrying a ton of the school's recycling with them (it only took them 2 1/2 hours!), loaded those into our vehicle, loaded down their backpacks with 50+ pounds of groceries & school supplies, hiked back with us, and still had the energy to cook supper for us while we collapsed in their apartment in various states of exhaustion and pain! They're our heros.

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 travertine (a kind of mineral) in the water makes it that incredible blue-green color. I've never seen anything like it! The water was a little cold for me, but Papaya Daddy went swimming right up to the foot of the waterfall. It really was paradisically beautiful (a sharp contrast to the enormous and ugly social problems our friends deal with in their classrooms every day.)

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.
A few days after returning from the hike (right around 6 weeks pregnant), pregnancy hit me full-force. I have been dealing with constant, all-day nausea and exhaustion ever since. It really is not pleasant, and seems a lot worse than with either of the other two children. And it's going to continue for several weeks to come (I'm not even at 8 weeks yet)! I try to take it a day at a time.

Luckily, there are still distractions from the unpleasantness, like this recent hailstorm (anyone who knew me from childhood will understand my fascination with hail):
Last weekend, we took a trip to Flagstaff and drove up into the mountains to see the fall colors. And to you folks in the East complaining about a brown autumn, I have to say: come to Arizona. It's beautiful here!
It's a good thing you can't tell how we're freezing our toes off. The temperature was hovering around freezing, with stray snowflakes, and all we were wearing under those fleecies were short-sleeve shirts. There was also a cold wind blowing. After a decreasingly pleasant mile of hiking in which we just got colder and colder, we turned around and had an increasingly miserable hike back to the car. It took about three hours for me to thoroughly warm up!

It's much more comfortable to admire the beautiful resulting photos from my warm living room.
And that brings us pretty much to the present. In just two months, we've not only had numerous varied adventures, but we've become pregnant homeschoolers. I hope to have some less eventful months in the future!