Posts Tagged ‘making memories’

Am I Turning into Scrooge???

December 1, 2013

Sorry, but I am not excited about gift giving this year.  Yes, I love to bless those around me, but I’m starting to realize that maybe my spiritual gift is not gifts.  I would rather spend time doing some family/bonding/memory/making activity that will last in my children’s minds forever!  Seriously, what did we buy them last year that they are still using? The question is semi-unfair as we went to our homeland, Canada, last year for Christmas.  Being in the desert in the Southwest, we had to buy warm clothes, long pants and shoes for the kids and we kept telling them the vacation to another country WAS their gift.  :o)

christmas 2012 1

See?!  What a great memory!

Our then 9-year-old daughter was DYING to get this set/book where she could draw outfits for dolls.  She LOVED it to death… I think it took about 21 days.  I haven’t seen it in almost a year.  We also got her a fat, purple and pink sparkly piggy bank that she spied in Walmart.  She was DYING to have a place to put her money…. AND would accentuate her pretty bedroom. I’m fairly certain the pig has been vacationing with the naked dolls that still need dresses since late February.  If the Popsicle man ever comes by in July/August and my wallet is empty, I need to remember to look for that pig.

My then 16-year-old son was DYING to have this totally overpriced black with lime green stripe cooler-than-cool jacket.  It is a close fitting, non-waterproof, zip-up, and being in Arizona I’m giving him a bit more grace than his little sister for not using it A LOT.  I did see the lime green coolness trying to peek out from a pile of clothes on the floor in his room.  I’m not sure if he wore it or if it fell off the hanger?  Then Dec. 16th, we crossed over the Sierra Nevadas in a snow storm…  pulled into the first ROSS we found and bought him a more suitable winter jacket.  Jacket #2 has been in the winter clothing box in the garage since January 2nd.

My then 14-year-son, who was DYING for concert tickets or iTunes gift-cards, got a mountain bike.  My husband bought it hoping for father-son bonding times, which did happen a few times last January and February.  Now, said son HAS used the bike and he does take care of the bike, but he rides his longboard 9 out of 10 days of the week.  Recently I asked him what we got him for Christmas last year… long pause… “Concert tickets or something?”  Um, no, but we probably should have.

My then 19-year-old got the most useful, but not necessarily fun gift…. an orange suitcase of her very own.  She was leaving for college in January and it turned into a necessity as I realized if I didn’t buy her one, she would be taking one of mine.  All that said, she LOVES orange and LOVED it…. AND she took one of mine anyway.  She also opened a brand new shiny pair of Nike tennis shoes, as some sort of athletic course at school was in her near future.  I’m positive that the Nikes won the “Most Used” Christmas gift of 2012.

Rick and I got a nice shiny red van for Christmas… that I crashed three months later.  Boooo Hissssss.  At least I remember what we received!!!

Do you remember what you bought everyone last year?  Do you remember what you received?

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 3: GENERAL GRANT HIKE

October 29, 2012

GENERAL GRANT HIKE.   Day #3 brought sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s!  Whooo HOoooooOOOOooo!

During our stay at Kings Canyon there was a prescribed burn going on so the mornings and evenings were quite smokey…. which made for great sun ray pictures!

We took advantage of the clear weather and did the hike to the General Grant Tree which was a 1/2 mile from our campground.  This was our first glimpse of one of the BIG trees.  General Grant is the third largest tree in the world.  It started growing before the Egyptians built the pyramids.  Yes, it’s true.  Along the trail there were several fallen trees expanding our minds as to the enormity of these specimens.  In the middle of the trail the 7-year-old girl that was with us randomly announces to no one in particular, “This is a great place to shuffle” and proceeds to do the shuffle right there on the pine straw.  Priceless.

No, there will be no photo essay of General Grant…. my camera batteries died on this hike.  Bummer, dude.  But we did sit on the hill above Gen. Grant and broke out our nature journals and drew the immense fire scar on the tree’s back side.  While we sat there drawing, coloring and munching on beef jerky, groups of tourists came by from France.  We spoke with a few of them, but their English was about as good as our French.  About 90% of the people we met during our week stay were from France.  We still don’t know why….

Deer were plentiful in our campground and all around the parks.  These timid animals were not afraid of people or cars.  Sad.  Our girls were playing on the jumbo fallen log in the meadow behind our camp when a group of four deer came near.  The girls froze and whispered to each other as they watched the gentle animals graze.  Eventually one of the teenage boys yelled and the deer took off.  Nora had never seen deer run before.  She came scooting over to the camp and proclaimed, “Mom, they don’t run. They bounce!”  So cute!

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 2: The BLUSTERY DAY & STUMP MEADOW

October 28, 2012

THE BLUSTERY DAY.  As the snow continued to fall, we realized our plans for the day had slowly drifted away, much like the snowflakes we were witnessing making their listless trek to the white ground below.  National Park solution #1: Visitor Center!  Yeehaw!  A roof, heated rooms, a movie, warm bathrooms with hot running water, etc. etc.  Off we went.  We took in a 20 minute movie about Kings Canyon with the three teenage boys reading the last word of every subtitle.  Did my homeschooling-mama-heart good. I taught those youngsters to read when they were wild, little, dirty whippersnappers.

The ten of us wandered the displays, felt the sharp blades of the 20 foot saw that was once used on the mammoth Sequoia trees, looked into bird nests, examined various sized pine cones and felt the bark of the enormous trees.  Much to our surprise, there was a beautiful educational room at the back of the center that we inhabited for several hours.  Our art boxes were brought in from the cars and we homeschooled in our socks in the shadows of three enormous paintings of the life zones we had studied.  Perfect!

Each of the wall murals was abounding in animals and plants of each zone.  The kids had made diorama boxes of these exact scenarios and they recollected many of the flora and fauna.

Postcards were purchased, written, stamped and sent home to various recipients whose addresses we knew by memory. We ate granola bars and cheese sticks.  Of course, we also did the booklets for the Jr. Ranger Program!  What would a trip to a national park be without doing a word find puzzle???  We learned about backpacking canisters for bear-safe food storage… see the black can?

As the natives got restless, we had wheelbarrow races and then we played charades in teams with National Park dice.  No one will ever forget Austin’s portrayal of a space ship complete with noises… because we are all familiar with the sounds made by alien flying saucers.

STUMP MEADOW.  After lunch, the snow had turned to rain and then to mist, allowing us to venture out and see a bit of the park.  Our first stop was Stump Meadow where hundreds of the BIG trees were harvested in the 1850s.  You can’t quite grasp the vastness of this area from a picture, but I offer my feeble attempt.

All eight of our children fit into the fire scar of this big stump with room to spare.  We have been reading My Side of the Mountain and the sequel The Far Side of the Mountain about Sam Gribley who, at 15,  moved from NYC to the hills and made a giant Hemlock his home.  Every time we saw a new BIGGER stump or hollowed-out tree the kids would claim, “This one will be my home!”

One last photo for you which I titled “The Little Colombian and the Giant Tree.”  Yes, Nora is standing there at the bottom, but I couldn’t back up far enough to get the top of the tree in the picture.  They are BIG.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 1: The ARRIVAL & FIRST MORNING

October 27, 2012

THE ARRIVAL.  Driving the supposed 10 hours and 21 minutes from Phoenix, AZ to Kings Canyon National Park, CA was almost uneventful with the exception of the swaying tent trailer that required only 60 MPH, the unfindable Visalia Costco that was a Walmart (seems that Costco moved to a new building and didn’t tell Mapquest), and the Park Ranger who said the showers were closed for winter. He was mistaken much to my relief after the 13 hour trip with two crazy moms and eight kids.

We arrived at Azalea Campground with about 90 minutes of sunlight to spare.  Every camper was in motion getting tents set up, wood hauled, food in bear boxes, fire built, trailer leveled, etc.  THEN, being a mom, I went to the closest bathroom building that was just a hop, skip and jump from our campsite, only to find out that it was also closed for winter.  GAH!  Next time we will check bathrooms BEFORE we unpack and set up camp.  So, much exercise was had ALL week hiking the hill to the open bathroom facility.

We tucked ourselves into chilly sleeping bags and beds, turned the propane heater to low in the trailer and snuggled in for a cozy night.  My night time camping routine might seem needlessly silly to some, but it works for me.  Wool socks with sweat pants tucked into them. Long sleeve t-shirt tucked into the sweat pants to halt drafty freezing breezes.  Long sleeve flannel jammie shirt.  Long sleeve red Mickey Mouse hooded sweatshirt with drawstring hood that is tied down to a small circle that only reveals my nose and mouth.  And earplugs.  And hand warmers…. I hold them in my hands until they are toasty, then I put the little bags of comfy warmth into my socks for the night.  BAM!  Arizona woman sleeps in a thin tent trailer at 6,500 feet in October in comfort.

THE FIRST MORNING.  My initial recollection was that there was daylight instead of darkness unlike the other 42 times I awoke during the night. My nose told me that it was chilly out….. really chilly.  Next, an early riser who had already departed from the tent trailer cheerily yelled, “It’s snowing!”  Turning over and snuggling down deeper into my warm nest, I closed my eyes and groaned, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!”  But it was true.  Weather.com had predicted only a 40% chance of rain or light snow.  They were 60% wrong.

One of the books that I read to my children in preparation for this trip was about Johnny and Teddy (John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt) titled The Camping Trip that Changed America.  Mr. Muir took the President camping in Yosemite to raise his awareness of the vast and enormously beautiful landscape that needed protection and the National Parks were born.  The two men awoke to a snow covered valley below them and Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed it the “best day of my life!”  The President’s joy was his alone as I did not share his feelings upon seeing snow while camping in the Sierra Nevadas, but I was glad for the experience for my city-slicker kids.  Every kid should camp in the snow ONCE! Simply to say they did…. and lived to tell the story.

Banana pancakes have never tasted quite as delectable as they did that cold cold inaugural morning of our week’s stay at Kings Canyon.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

Faithful Readers

July 12, 2010

I am in awe of your faithfulness to come to My Sister’s Jar day after day after day.  Really.  I am.  You amaze me.  I’m hoping it’s because I amuse you.  Haha.   I have been MIA for several days for good reason.  We got back late last night from a four-day camping trip up to cool high country here in the great boiling hot state of Arizona.  Up on the Mogollon Rim in northeastern AZ it rains every afternoon in July and I found it splendid.  Really.  I did.  So did my boys.

Today we set up tents in the backyard in stifling hot Phoenix and hosed off all the mud.  The tents were dry in less than 10 minutes.  It seriously is a dry heat today.  110 last time I checked.  Toasty, but perfect for drying wet camping gear.  I’m also engaged in laundry.  There was no white pile today.  It was renamed “Used to be White” pile.  Camping does that to socks and shirts. 

My to-do list today included, but was not limited to:  Post Office, Chiropractor & Massage, Library, Grocery Store, Tire Shop and Bank.  Buuuuuuuuuut, one of my darling offspring found my keys and unhooked the house key/mail key half of the collection in order to retrieve the mail.  The more important half of the keys is still MIA.  The half that is missing includes the van key.  So, I did borrow my sister-in-law’s van to get to the chiropractor, but it is my locked van with no key that needs tires. Also I did not stop at the library because the cd that is overdue is in the locked van sitting in the driveway.  A tad frustrating.

Last month when we were somewhere between San Bernadino, California and Lake Tahoe, Rick’s keys went missing.  They have not re-appeared.  He’s been getting keys cut for two weeks, but still has not accomplished getting his house key cut.  Rick had to get new keys to the airplane, hangar, his office, etc.  It was a bummer, too, because our friends in Mississippi got him an Elvis key for his house key.  So cool.  So, between the two of us, we do have all the keys needed for living, but I’m going to really miss the remote door opener on my missing half of the key ring if it stays hidden.  Please, oh please, God, show me where they are!!!!

The last time we were irresponsible and lost keys was in 1989.  Rick’s keys AND his Trinity Western University hockey jacket both went missing, never to be found.  Then in 1991, Rick and I watched in slow motion as his keys slowly slid off the dashboard of our ski boat just out of our reach on the Peace River in Northern Alberta.  But that was not so much losing them as it was not wanting to dive and find them.  We knew where they were.  So we’ve been pretty responsible for over 20 years.  I’m not sure what happened this summer?!?

I’m impatiently waiting for my dear, hard-working husband to get home from work to unlock the van…. so I can get a few more boxes checked off my to-do list.   We leave tomorrow for ten days in a cabin up north in AZ… where it is between 80 and 85 all day! (Yes, we will have been gone five of the first seven weeks of summer…. believe me when I say that is GOOD!)  I’m not sure if I will have internet service or not.  Please stay tuned.  Thank you.  That’s all.

Easter Surprises!

April 16, 2010

For Easter, I always have some theme gift for the kids’ baskets.  Past years have included: underwear, bubbles, toothbrushes/floss/toothpaste, comic books, pjs, etc.  THIS YEAR I found mini Chia Pets in the craft store at 50% off!  What a screaming deal.  The duck, elephant and frog were purchased.  My daughter, who is 16, is the only child who has embarked on her Chia Pet journey so far.  This morning I arrived in the kitchen to find her Chia Pet had “pony tails”…. well, isn’t that WHY you have Chia Pets???? To do their hair????  Then she told me that she has cut the hair twice already!  See!?!  Fun Fun Fun… all for $2.50! 

Yes, those are real shoe laces.  What would a Chia Pet be without shoe laces?  Yes, it’s true.  I never had a Chia Pet as a child, and I didn’t want my children going through life like I’ve had to…. Chia-Pet-less.  Making memories… that’s what this is all about!