Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Don't you love my mirror photography?

There's at least one great thing about living on an Indian reservation where there's almost zero interest in national politics (I haven't seen a single sign for either presidential candidate on the entire reservation): when you show up to vote, the number of poll workers will almost certainly outnumber the amount of people waiting in line. This morning, Papaya Daddy & I were the lone voters, with about 10 workers at the polling station to help us along. It still felt good to be a part of the national democratic process, however.

Happy voting day, America!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Daddy-son adventure time

We missed church today, since the Banana was down with a diarrheal illness yesterday & we didn't want to infect anybody (she seems much better today).

Papaya Daddy was going a little stir crazy by lunch time today so, as I put the two girls down for naps, he & the Papaya headed off in our car to find a nice place to do some hiking.

It's fun to see them go off together to pursue adventure, even with the inevitable (but slight)worry I can't help bearing (two adventure-loving males together). I'm sure they'll come home having had a wonderful and exciting time.

Last Saturday, we headed off with our church friends to the edge of Third Mesa for a cookout. About half the group headed over the edge of the mesa for a hike/rock scramble. They had a wonderful time, & Papaya Daddy was blown away by how agile and reasonable the Papaya was in his climbing. He had confidence and skill, but stayed away from ledges & dangerous situations. We were both proud of him, and I'm sure it was the beginning of many heart pounding adventures to come for the Papaya & his Daddy. Sometimes, as a mother, you'd just rather not look or know.

See the Papaya stuck to the steep rock?

We've heard that this is one of the caves that the Hopi used to hide out in to keep their kids from being taken away to government boarding school about 100 years ago (it used to be mandatory, and some of the parents who resisted were actually taken to Alcatraz!). Evidently it doesn't have much in it now except for rat poop (yes, they explored it).

Here's a just plain gorgeous picture, professionly taken by Papaya Daddy:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lost in Translation

They say that you've really mastered a foreign language when you begin to understand humor in that language.

If that's true, then I haven't quite mastered my kids' language yet.

Breakfast this morning became a joke-telling fest for the two older kids. Here are samples:


Banana: Mommy, can I tell you a joke?

Me: Sure. Tell me a joke.

Banana: How do ducks fly?

Me: How?

Banana: They flap their wings! [Ha, ha, ha, ha!!]

Me: Was that your joke?

Banana: Yes! That's silly! That makes my tummy full from laughing!

Papaya: Mommy, I have a joke.

Me: Okay, what is it?

Papaya: While I'm eating breakfast, people are being buried underground! [Ha, ha, ha, ha!]

They're a barrel of laughs, those two!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Proof that she's a drama queen

Our car ride home from church this afternoon was suddenly interrupted with loud, shrill, and tragic crying from the Banana. It sounded like somebody had seriously hurt her.

Me: Banana, what's the matter?

Banana: [Waaahhh!] Papaya say something to me!

Me: What did he say to you?

Banana: Adagio!!!! [Waaahhhh!]

Where DO our children pick up this kind of language?!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Because the obvious thing to do when you're having trouble keeping one blog current...

...is to create a new one!

Yes, since I was posting too frequently on this blog for my computer to keep up with me, I've created a new blog for the overflow inspiration.

Actually, the real reason I created a new blog is to keep a digital scrapbook of our homeschooling adventures. I hope it will act as a kind of report of what we do, a place to record the kids' work and accomplishments (more "portable" than boxes of papers), and possibly a source of the occasional idea for another homeschooler (I know I've certainly gained a lot of inspiration by reading other people's ideas online).

It may be completely boring for those not interested in homeschooling, my kids' weekly educational activities, or our choices for curriculum, so I'll try to keep interesting, general family posts on this blog.

Anyway, for those who are interested in our homeschool, I present to the world...

....[drum roll]....

3 R's on the Rez


P.S. Hey, Kim & Jordana - how about starting your own?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Banana!

Our "pretty in pink" girl is 3 years old now! And so very different from her brother. She's the drama queen of our family - definitely no understatement with her! The most musical family member, too - it does my heart good to know there will be at least one of us who can carry a tune! Strong willed, she's already turning into a bit of a leader. During her NaiNai's visit last week, she was making up her own games & songs & teaching them to NaiNai. We predict a girl who will be very clever in school in the future - she's very sharp and articulate and already shows an ability to concentrate (when she wants to, which is not particularly often).
Unlike the Papaya, who was heavily "into" trains and cars at her age, the Banana has shown no particular passion for any theme - she's not into princesses, dolls, cars, or anything specific for long. This can make present-buying more complicated! The upside is that when she does receive a present, she is gratifyingly excited and appreciative, no matter what the present is. She does like make-believe, though (like her brother), and (also like him) enjoys making and serving meals to an eclectic assortment of animals, vehicles, living human beings, and random inanimate objects.
She has almost perfected the art of frustrating her brother and getting him into trouble, but also plays beautifully & happily with him for long periods of time. It's fun to watch them together. She is fascinated with her infant sister (and mostly gentle), and the Portabella loves watching her and following her every move. She was the first to make the Portabella laugh.

The Banana loves books, poetry, songs, and drama, which makes her a fun participant of our home "preschool". We look forward to seeing how she'll develop and grow in the next year. We love you, Banana!

Random Quote of the Day

From the Banana at breakfast this morning:

"Mommy, I'm chewing like an animal in trouble!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Random Musings from a lapsed blogger:

We just returned from a lovely 4-day vacation in Flagstaff. It was a much needed break for a much-worked Papaya Daddy & Mommy. We got sore necks staring up at the beautiful golden aspens high up in the peaks, then descended to red rock Sedona to complete a fairly strenuous 5-mile hike into Boynton Canyon. The Papaya hiked the entire 5 miles on his own, with only one minor whine during the first half. We were all incredibly proud of him. Way to go, Papaya!

Speaking of the Papaya, during our second night in our Flagstaff hotel, I heard a bump in the dark, coming from the direction of the kids' room. I walked over to investigate. Both kids were asleep, but as I came near the Papaya, I saw that his pillow was covered with blood. "Are you okay?" I whispered. The Papaya stirred & said "Yes, Mommy, but I fell out of bed." Bending closer, I saw a gash on his left eyelid. I awakened Papaya Daddy & we pulled out our flashlight to investigate further. Shrinking away from the light, a very sleepy Papaya protested, "I'm shy!" and immediately fell back asleep again. However, the gash was gaping enough to require a stitch or two to avoid a large scar. Wanting to avoid the trauma of the ER at 1:00 in the morning (not to mention a needle in the Papaya's eyelid), Dr. Daddy drove out to Walmart & returned with Superglue. I held the Papaya (still mostly asleep) still while our expert physician superglued his eyelid gash together with three separate applications that we blew on to dry. It's healing beautifully, and the Papaya never shed a single tear over the incident!

The Papaya is old enough now to begin exploring some of the deep questions of life, specifically the afterlife. A couple months ago, it dawned on him that we all (including him) will die someday, and after some tears and discussion, he decided to focus on the excitement of Heaven rather than the horror of death. Since then, there's been a lot of speculation about Heaven & exactly how we'll get there. When NaiNai (Papaya's paternal grandmother), who just completed a two week visit, asked him how he could get to heaven (she was interested in teaching him about the salvation process rather than the mecanics of transport he was pondering), he thought for a few seconds, then answered very seriously, "Well, first you have to die. After that, I'm not sure how you get there." She tried to explain about asking Jesus into your heart, and he responded with absolute gravity, "But NaiNai, how do I do that after I die?" After some further thought, he decided that there was probably a big tube between heaven & earth, and that after you die, you get sucked through the tube, all the way to heaven.

Our efforts at religious education also include teaching the two older kids a Bible verse every week. We try to make sure they remember the reference as well as the verse. The Papaya's pretty good at this, but the Banana (who just turned 3 - Happy Birthday!) has a little bit of trouble. "Can you tell me where it's from?" is a common question from us after she recites a verse.

Well, last week the kids were watching a Netflix Reading Rainbow DVD about immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century. It included a lot of old footage of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, and concluded with the playing of the famous 80's song with the refrain, "They comin' to America! Today!" The kids found this song quite memorable, and during snack, the Banana sang the refrain & asked me, "Mommy, where does 'Comin' to America' come from?" Absently, I replied, "from Neil Diamond." The Banana triumphantly declared, "Neil Diamond 15:16!"

I don't think Neil Diamond is quite that authoritative.

The Portabella is growing by leaps and bounds & just hit her 5-month birthday. She got her second round of immunizations two weeks ago and weighed in at 12 pounds. She's becoming quite the extrovert and loves to give dazzling smiles to strangers, something that garners her quite a lot of public adoration when we're out and about. Those strangers had better not try to hold her, however - she's a definite Mommy's girl when it comes to that.

Cultural tidbit of the day for all my readers: our long weekend in Flagstaff was made possible by Papaya Daddy's comp days that followed a grueling 10-day work stint (something that happens about once a month). This "Ward doc" rotation includes a weekend of running the ER and the inpatient wards. The ER was a busy place weekend before last, in part because of the annual Hopi "basket dance". This is a harvest-type celebration dance that traditionally included tossing baskets (the Hopi are excellent weavers) into the dancing space as an expression of joy in the harvest and bounty. These days, the throwing of objects has extended past just baskets to encompass just about any kitchen implement you can think of - toasters, coffeepots, and pans are all fair game. Papaya Daddy had his hands full repairing lacerations (with stitches, not Superglue) - caused specifically by a flying platter, a muffin pan, and some unknown object. Only at Hopi!

Stay tuned for a birthday post & pictures of the Banana & fall aspens - hopefully sometime in the next month!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Overdue Update

Enjoy the pics for now, & come back soon - I'll add commentary on each family member within the next day or so!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Garden pictures

Per the request of my sister, here are some photos of our beautiful garden. Everything you see is a result of Papaya Daddy's blood, sweat, and tears. Gardening here is not easy, but it definitely gives you a sense of accomplisment when you succeed in ekeing out anything that's not a weed!

The grass is greener now, after a good rain & some more Papaya Daddy work.

A profusion of poppies!

Our front walkway during a freak hailstorm last week, and in the sunlight.

Happy Birthday, Papaya!

In all the excitement over the Portabella's arrival, I don't want to neglect the Papaya, who is celebrating his fifth birthday today! We had a party for him at church on Sunday, where we enjoyed a chocolate cake with Saturn on it and played a solar system parcel game with rocket balloons in the center. We started off this morning with crepes, and plan to have gyoza (potstickers) for lunch and pizza for dinner (all at the Papaya's request). He received his main present from us this morning (ironically, a medical rescue helicopter, purchased a couple weeks before my little adventure with a real one), and is going to open a super-fun present from his grandmother this afternoon. He and the Banana are helping her make a cake right now. Papaya Daddy has the day off to help celebrate. So it looks like it's going to be a pretty good day for all concerned! We'll have to post a couple more pictures when the festivities are over.

We have really enjoyed watching the Papaya grow and develop over the past year - it's been so exciting! He's learned to read (basic words and sentences), write, make up fun stories, and do math at a 1st grade level. His personality has become even more his own, and he shows a special capacity for generosity, compassion, appreciation of natural beauty, impulsivity, and thinking outside the box. We are proud of him and love him so much!

Putting a candle in a birthday crepe this morning. The Papaya chose his own outfit - notice the pointsettia in his pocket! Very dapper!

Helping to water our thirsty lawn a few days ago.

Welcome to the Portabella!

I'm back again! The last two weeks and two days have been anything but boring! Hopefully I'll have a little more time later to post the Portabella's birth story (unexpectedly exciting). But for now, here are some recent pictures to satisfy eager family members!

By the way, her first check-in yesterday, at 2 weeks old, revealed that the Portabella has passed the 6-pound mark! At 6 pounds, 1 ounce, she's gained 10 ounces since her birth on May 13 (when she weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces ). It's nice to know all my nursing over the past two weeks has done more than help me fit back into size 8 clothes.

More later!

Yes, she's scrawny, all right (but gaining weight fast)!

She already has plenty of personality!

The Banana suddenly looks huge next to her little sister!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Not much happening...

How's that for an exciting blog post title? Really makes you want to read it, huh?

But it's true. We haven't been stuck in any washes lately. I haven't gone into early labor. Papaya Daddy just keeps on working. I keep on mothering the kids, housewifing the house, & homeschooling the Papaya. The wind just keeps on howling. The dust just keeps on filtering through every crack in the house. We keep on getting stuck in the house all day because of the duststorms outside. And my belly just keeps on growing.

I'm ready for some excitement. Like, say, a new baby arriving soon. This month, in fact! Life feels a little tedious right now.

That's about it. Our major excitement of the week will be attending our neighbor's bar mitzvah in Flagstaff tomorrow (and we are looking forward to it).

I'm 37 weeks pregnant on Tuesday - full term! I'll make sure to take & post some pictures.

To increase the interest level of this otherwise dreadfully boring post, I'll close with a story the Papaya composed & dictated to me yesterday. He was using a "story starter" picture that came with the Language Arts kindergarten curriculum we've been doing together. This small picture showed two boys together in the woods, examining a tree that was missing the middle part of its trunk (i.e. there was a stump, then a blank space, then the rest of the tree continuing up through the top of the picture). Here's the Papaya's story, in his own words:

Two Boys Took a Walk

Once upon a time, there was a tree in the forest. The middle of the tree was gone, but it was still standing up.

There were two boys. Their names were Cottontail and Peter. The first boy said, “Hmm, it’s nice outside. Let’s take a walk in the forest.” The boys found the tree. The older boy used the flashlight to figure out why the middle of the tree was gone. He discovered that the tree was still growing, even though the middle was gone. Aliens were growing an upside-down tree in their magnet thing. The magnet thing was up there in the sky. It’s yellow, and it has some silver on it, and you can stick the two silvers together and make something. You don’t live in it, but you just grow trees out of it.

The aliens were in their rocketship. They didn’t see the boys, because it was dark in outer space. The boys saw the aliens. When they saw them, they said, “I won’t take a rocketship. I will take a car.” Then they went home and took a car to the restaurant. They ate there.

The aliens watered their tree. Then they flew to the moon and took the tree with them. Their rocketship landed on the moon. They watered the tree some more and they planted it on the moon. It grew well there.

The End

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Respect the wash!

Last weekend the incessant, abominable wind that’s been plaguing us for a large part of this Spring season took a break. Saturday was a beautiful day – highs in the low 70’s, a brilliant, cloudless sky, and only a light breeze. Of course, we had to do something outdoors!
Papaya Daddy, after some meditation on various options, came up with a brilliant idea – something that would effectively balance my advanced state of pregnancy & lower energy levels, the young ages of our children, and his own perennial desire to do something non-standard. We would pack a picnic & drive out on dirt roads to a new section of the wash that runs near our house. Then we would park our vehicle, shoulder our food, & explore the wash, enjoying a delicious outdoor lunch when we found a nice spot.

So we packed a lovely picnic (leftover homemade portabella mushroom pizza, cut-up apples, & homemade sugar cookies), included plenty of water, strapped the eager kids into their car seats, & headed out. We drove about five miles down the main highway (paralleling the wash), turned onto a dirt road, and within a quarter of a mile, were crossing the wash at a new spot. As we drove down into the wash, we saw a faint track that actually followed it. Papaya Daddy turned off the dirt road & into the wash, followed the track for about 100 meters, decided he had found a good place to park, turned around, pulled to the side of the track (just in case another vehicle happened to come along while we were parked) & came to an abrupt stop.

Something about the way our vehicle stopped caused Papaya Daddy to try to start again. We did not move. He tried a little harder. The wheels turned but we didn’t really move. He got out of the car & tried pushing us while I pressed the accelerator. Initially it felt like we were moving. However, upon closer inspection, we came to the sinking realization that our movement had been a downward rather than a forward one. We were stuck in deep sand.
Not the kind of picture you see in magazine advertisements!

Considering that we were bound to get our new SUV stuck sooner or later, this was not a bad situation. We were stuck in a fun spot the kids would love exploring. We had a great lunch packed. There was plenty of daylight and nowhere else we had to be that day. It hadn’t seriously rained in 2 months, so flash floods were highly unlikely. I probably wouldn’t go into labor. We even had great cell phone reception, so if our efforts at extricating ourselves proved useless, we could call for reinforcements. So we released the kids & hunkered down. (Actually, Papaya Daddy did most of the work I’m about to describe. Owing to strong Braxton Hicks contractions that assailed me every time I tried to do any serious digging out, my efforts were confined to occasional digging, material gathering, child care, and operating the Pilot from the driver’s seat when applicable.)
After digging the tires out (the front tires were buried 6-8 inches), we attempted to build a little “road” for them, hoping to get out of the hole we were in. We started exploring the trash in the wash, and scrounged up some old clothes & underwear, a few torn roof tiles, the front of a stand-up fan, and a small piece of particle board. The kids helped us build about three or four feet of “road” in front of this, made from dry, dead, stick-like weeds we pulled from the wash.

The kids help make a "road"
Papaya Daddy got his feet firmly planted behind the car, & pushed again while I tried to drive. We moved about three feet & started spinning down into the sand. So we dug out, rearranged our trashy “road” materials, and tried again. And again. And again. And again. Each try, we moved two or three feet. Occasionally, I’d think we were really starting to get going & would press down excitedly on the accelerator, only to spin the front tires & bury them deeply – a reflex that sorely tested Papaya Daddy’s patience!
"Couldn't you tell the tires were just spinning down???"

Papaya Daddy trying to smooth out the sand in front of the Pilot

INTERMISSION: Meanwhile, the kids were having a marvelous time exploring the wash, climbing the sandy cliffs, & enjoying our nice picnic. We did take a break to join them for lunch, then got back to our work.

After about 2 ½ hours & many attempts, we had moved about 20 or 30 feet and were almost back on the original track going through the wash. To our discouragement, however, it turned out that this track was only a thin crust over more deep sand. We had driven on it without a problem when we already had momentum, but it seemed doubtful that we would be able to get up on top of it from a position of complete inertia. The kids were past their naptime & beginning to tire, Papaya Daddy & I were definitely tired, I was beginning to suggest calling for help, and the adventure of being stuck was losing its sheen. But Papaya Daddy wasn’t willing to give up yet. All we needed was a longer “road” to give us the momentum we needed to navigate the sand.

All our road materials were shredded by this time, so we made a new exploration of the wash. The abandoned couches & rusty stove didn’t benefit us much, but we did discover a couple of true treasures. Papaya Daddy unearthed two large pieces of absolutely disgusting, stained, half-burnt carpet (about four or five feet long), & I proudly returned with a three or four foot long piece of old particleboard that looked like it had, at one time, been the wall to a rabbit hutch (it had a window cut in it). Never before have we appreciated the wash’s trash so much.

Our first try with these reinforcements was still a wash, but got us further than anything thus far. And on our second try – oh, joy – the Pilot actually continued moving past the end of the “road”! The tires fishtailed & spun in a disconcerting manner for about 50 feet, and then, as I continued to move forward & gather speed, I sensed the wondrous feeling of the tires actually gaining purchase on the track. We were going to make it! Of course, I didn’t stop the car until I reached the packed down dirt road crossing the wash. Papaya Daddy & the kids ran jubilantly behind me, & we broke out the cookies (as we drove home) to celebrate.

Papaya Daddy re-lays the road prior to our final, successful effort! (You see only a part of the track of our previous efforts.)

It wasn’t the picnic we had envisioned, but it does make a great memory. And we learned that deep sand & 2 wheel drive vehicles (even SUV’s with high clearance) aren’t a good mix. From now on, we will respect the wash & explore it on foot only!

"When do we get to eat cookies?"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Belly pics! (33 1/2 weeks pregnant)

Here are pics taken this morning at 8 months pregnant. Note the incredible Arizona sky!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Finally, an update!

Hi, everybody! I'm back from a very, very long hiatus! Maybe, now that I've broken the ice, I'll start blogging once a week or so again! Anyway, here's a quick recap of the past four or five months:

* Morning (all-day) sickness finally petered out around Christmas time, although it still bothers me if I get too tired. It did last long enough to help me get excused from jury duty in early December (I was extremely close to actually being selected for an attempted murder case being tried at our county seat, a good two hours drive away)! So at least the nausea had some redeeming value!

* I am currently 33 weeks pregnant & will be full-term (37 weeks) in a month! Due date is May 27, but I expect this baby to follow the path of her siblings and come a week or so early.

* I am great with child. Not quite as great as the tape measure says I should be, but reasonably great. I finally bit the bullet & attended my first doctor's appointment ever for this pregnancy about a month ago (bad, bad, example, Ms. Public Health Degree Holder, wife of MD) We had a bit of a scare when my belly measured almost 7 cm. smaller than it should have (i.e. my belly measured 21 weeks pregnant when it should have measured 28 weeks). I got an ultrasound the next day & the baby was exactly on track for dates, measuring in the 50th percentile for a 28 week old baby in every measurement taken! My amniotic fluid levels & everything else was normal. I'm not sure where my body was hiding the extra 7 cm. of baby, but it's bloomed since then & I'm now only measuring about 3 cm. small (which is not worrisome since I was 3 cm. small for both of my previous pregnancies). In any case, I don't feel or look small! I've finally achieved the stage where even strangers (for the most part) feel safe commenting on my expectant state. I'll try to get a good belly shot sometime!

* We appear to be gestating another little girl. That means that when we get together with my sister's family, the poor Papaya will remain the only male among 6 cousins! The Papaya seems to be dealing with the news with equanimity, and we are very happy about another girl. We have a name picked out, but we have to keep something secret until delivery! I'm afraid that unless we get incredibly creative, it won't rhyme with a tropical fruit. We may have to expand our produce options as far as nicknames go.

* Exciting travels since my last blog post include a Thanksgiving trip to visit my sister & family in Pennsylvania as well as my parents (and a multitiude of other gathered family) in Maryland. My family then convened in Arizona for a wonderful late Christmas & New Year's celebration. In February, we packed up & headed out to Germany for a week with Papaya Daddy's family (his parents live in Bavaria). We had an easy trip there, a wonderfully relaxing visit with family, and a hellish trip home that required about two or three weeks of recovery time. It included 48 hours of constant travel, punctuated by about 3 or 4 interrupted hours of sleep. Only two hours after finally arriving home again, Papaya Daddy succumbed to an intense bout of food poisoning that kept him up for a third night & landed him in the ER, hooked up to IV fluids & antibiotics, by the morning. I can't say I'm enthused about international travel again anytime soon.

*I love homeschooling the kids! Both kids enjoy our times of reading great books together, our "trip around the world" theme, and our nature walks. The Papaya is learning to read & write at a leisurely pace, and is showing a decided aptitude for math. In fact, he enjoys it so much that we use math lessons as a bribe to get him to nap ("If you nap, Papaya, you can stay up later than the Banana & have a math lesson!") - and it works! Granted, we have a really fun math curriculum we use for the late night sessions that includes a lot of games and no workbook work. Papaya Daddy & I try not to get too obsessed planning out the next 12 years of school!

* The health center here is currently shortstaffed & Papaya Daddy has been working way too much and too hard. We hope this state of affairs will end soon, as three new physicians are scheduled to begin work between June and September. For now, we're just enduring & plowing through.

That's all the news from our little corner of the Colorado Plateau. I really do play to update more frequently in the future - maybe I should even try to commit to every week! Keep your eyes open for some great pictures of last weekend's trip to Grand Falls, Arizona - coming soon!

P.S. Here are some recent pictures of the kids - taken at night in dim lighting, but still fun!