Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Sunday was Allistair's and Stephen's birthday!

Happy birthday to you, dear silly kittens!
Here are some photos from when they first joined our family:

Tiny little Stephen

Little baby Allistiar (he's a completely different color now!)

Baby blue eyes

Perky and curious!

Bitty Stephen with food on his cute earnest little face

Snuggles - they loved to snuggle then, they love to snuggle now!

BIG ears!

Sleeping on Mommy is the best place to sleep

They are ONE YEAR OLD!

I neglected to post about this on Sunday because it was a big day at our church:  
We moved into our first facility!

The 1:1 Classroom (special needs) is #27!

The building is beautiful and modern and suits our purposes well.  We pray that it enables us to be an even more positive influence in our community.

Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hunter Trail TO THE PEAK!

I am VERY proud of myself (and Cindy) because yesterday we did the hardest hike we've ever done!
It wasn't really on purpose, and if we had known how difficult it was going to be, we wouldn't have done it, but we DID do it, and we deserve a celebration!

Cindy lives in a different town now (about 45 minutes away from where I live, sadly), so we decided to try a hike near where she lives.  The mountain is called Picacho Peak, and there are number of hikes around and on it.  We didn't realize that this trail went straight to the top!

It started innocently enough . . . we just hiked up to this wind cave.  It took about 30 minutes.
A wind cave is not really a cave as a normal person would think of a cave.  It is a place in a rock wall where the wind has carved out a portion so there's an overhang and a nice shelter from the hot sun.
This one was neat because Martins were living in holes in the rocks and eating the annoying little gnats 
that were getting stuck in our sweat.

From inside the wind cave to the north.
You can see some of the holes
in the rocks where the birds live!

From inside the wind cave towards the east (and the freeway).
You can see the lovely cool shadow of the overhang!

We were still feeling happy.

As we kept going, we discovered that the trail went up and around the back side of the mountain, where there was a precipitously steep descent and then an even more precipitously steep ascent up to the peak!

Rebar was drilled into the rock in order to make hand rails for climbers.  In some places, there were little wire fences so climbers wouldn't fall off the mountain altogether.

At the flat part above the wind cave, there was a little bench with a Gideon's Bible and a brick holding down some gardening gloves, donated to the cause by previous hikers/climbers.  They were for preventing blisters when grasping on tightly to the rebar.

They were man-sized, though, and I didn't take one because it would have hindered me more than helped me.  I thought the Bible was an amusing touch, as if someone was saying, "You are about to undertake a frightening endeavor.  Take some time with God before you continue." 

From this angle, it looked as if this metal support was just dangling off side of the mountain!

First major descent:

You can see how steep this trail was, and this is a part with NO hand-holds;
imagine how steep it was in the parts where the metal supports were installed!

Me, being brave:

Cindy, on the piece that looked from afar as if it was just dangling off the mountain:

Me, feeling thankful for the little wire fence:

As you can see, at this point we are getting pretty high up.  

We saw some very interesting wildlife - lizards I have never seen before!

This one was molting.  He looked pretty grumpy.  He was probably about a foot long (maybe a little more).

This guy was little.  I thought he was a Horny Toad at first, but they don't have that pretty striped tail!

I didn't get photos of the scariest part because I was focused on survival and keeping a good attitude!

And eventually we got to the top.  THREE HOURS LATER.

As we ate our lunch, I realized that the mountain was in the middle of a large crater. 




These pictures just show the west side of the view from the top because it's where we sat to eat our lunch.

The big (probably 2-5 miles in diameter) crater encompassed the Picacho Peak park, the freeway, and some mountains to the east.

I did not take pictures from the other side of the mountain because it was less pretty and because I didn't do any unnecessary walking around, and it's a good thing, because this is the only hike I've ever done where I had to stop about 100 feet from the car because I couldn't go anymore right then.  
Obviously, after a short rest, I did make it the last 100 feet!  SIX HOURS AFTER WE STARTED.
Obviously, it was a little much.

Both of us decided that we are glad we accomplished this amazing feat, but that the payoff wasn't great enough to do it again.  There are much less strenuous hikes that are more beautiful and less crowded.
However, this is the only hike I've ever done where my arms and shoulders got a workout, too! 

My foot after removing my shoe and sock:

I am not as sore as I expected, and my abdominal stuff isn't causing me much trouble.  I am TIRED, though.

A few other photos from the past week:

Claude is a bibliophile like her Mommy!

A cactus flower that bloomed in our garden!

Beautiful blue Arizona sky!

And a sweet lil' Juvy on my lap.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, full of adventures!

UPDATE:  I wasn't even that horribly sore after that crazy wild hike!  My calves were tender for a couple of days and my shoulders felt it a bit, but not bad - yay!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Whinnies and Liquid Nitrogen!

Yep!  We rode horses!
At the OK Corral!
Juildeen's 12th birthday is on Monday, so of course, we had to celebrate a little.

Last time when we tried to ride, we ended up just feeding the horses, because we found out that Juildeen's Grandma needed to be there to sign the legal guardian forms, so this time, we carted her along.  Thankfully, it was a lovely day (84 when we finished riding, almost 90 now) and she was able to sit in the breezy shade and enjoy the beautiful view while we were on our ride.

We could see Four Peaks (count 'em - they're the gray ones in the far distance!)

We spent an hour on our horses.
We walked around in the Superstition Wilderness.
I expect our sit bones will be tender tomorrow!

 First, the helmet:

Then, they gave us a bag made out of old jeans, 
and we put our possessions (water bottle, camera) in there. 
It hooked over the pommel on the saddle.

Then Juildeen got to get up on Bess, her horse for the hour!
She had never been on a horse before, and she did GREAT!

My horse's name was Pecos.

Then we rode through the beautiful desert.

We got fairly close to the Superstition Mountains 
(where I climbed to the Flat Iron rock waaaay up on top last January!)

Then we had ice cream.  But not just ANY ice cream!

Sub Zero puts the ingredients in a steel bowl and uses liquid Nitrogen to freeze it into ice cream (in my case, frozen yogurt) right in front of our eyes!

The store is decorated all sciency, and the liquid Nitrogen is in a BIG canister.

Einstein approves!

Here is my frozen yogurt getting made! 
(warning: noisy background - a baseball team was getting their just desserts!)

Here's my frozen yogurt all finished!
This is the kid size

And for the mathematicians amongst you, can you read this sign?
This is what we saw on the way out.

I had to ask Greg.  

Answer: "i eight sum pi" - ha!

Hope your Saturday is as full of memories as mine!

(P.S.  I'm totally exhausted and ready for a long evening of reading on the couch.)

Lovely Waves + Another Doc

Saw a Gastroenterologist yesterday because we need to know what effect the endometriosis is having on my digestive system.  I know that it is having some effects (don't worry; I won't go into detail!), but I don't know if they need to be addressed right now.  I saw Dr. R. (who looked as if he was about 12 years old!) and the colonoscopy is scheduled for May 14th.  He's putting me all the way out with an anesthesiologist there because my case is more complex (according to the last surgical report, parts of my intestines are immobilized against my abdominal wall with adhesions/scar tissue).  He answered my questions well and seemed to know what he is doing.  I'll be glad to have this out of the way.

The office had plenty of interesting details!

I definitely need this book!
I had a browse; it's very helpful.

These little dolls were all over - in every exam room and on the check-in desk.
What are they?!

Why, they are polyps, of course!

Now on to fun stuff!

Snuggling kittens

This kitten (Allistair) loves being in the dishwasher!

Stephen is a very droopy kitty - like what I imagine a Rag Doll cat to be
He oozes over the edges of things and he's extremely difficult to pick up
because he slithers right through a person's arms!

Daddy left the laundry basket on the kitchen table and Allistair found it!

The blossoms from the Mesquite tree fell down on the very windy day last week;
the ground is all yellow!

I wish I could post SMELLS, because the citrus scents have been delicious -
slightly overwhelming, but lovely nonetheless

The windy day made some more tumbleweeds!

Blooming Red Yucca

Big branches down in the puddles from a storm last week

I have been learning to grill -
I always used to ask Greg to do it, but if he grills when he gets home from work, it
gets really late before we can eat, so I have been trying my hand at it.
This is my first batch of grilled chicken with barbecue sauce!
YUM.  Now I'm hungry.

Boys, you may want to skip this part!

Girls, do any of you have hair like mine: STRAIGHT with no natural wave at all?
I have been craving this hairstyle (though this girl has since cut her hair!)

for any number of years now forever, and I tried following all the tutorials (here and here are some I have tried to follow), but I never got the result I was looking for because I cannot wield a curling iron without damage to myself (I still have a singe mark on my neck that has lingered for a month +) and I can't make it work right.
In addition to the curling iron methods, I have tried hot rollers (I have so many individual strands of hair that my head ends up looking like a puff ball), this crazy contraption (looks more like crimping than the mermaid-y waves I'm seeking), sleeping in braids, pin curls, rag rollers, and some other stuff. 

Well . . . I think the search may be over!

Infiniti Pro by Conair™ Auto-Rotating Curling Iron

This may look like a regular curling iron, but it IS NOT!  It rotates on its own!

In order to make waves look effortless and breezy, the way I have been wanting, the strands of hair need to be spun away from the face.  With the tools I have tried, I have not been able to figure out how to keep the hair in the clamp and spin in one direction away from my face on the left side of my head and in the other direction away from my face on the right side of my head.  

But this amazing device does it all for me!  You clamp a 1" section of hair in the clamp (about 2" from the bottom of the hair so as not to curl the ends, because this look leaves them straighter), then you PUSH A BUTTON, which makes the barrel spin on its own!  You can either push "L" or "R", which makes the barrel spin clockwise or counterclockwise, so I was able to get all the strands to spin away from my face.  It was quick and painless (no burns!) and the result is JUST what I was looking for.  Can't wait to try some different options (start lower down on my hair, take bigger pieces to make the waves looser, etc.)  What fun!  It's especially good because I was in one of those periods where I was really bored with my hair.  Now I have new games to play with it!

AND I'm keeping my brain young by attempting new motor activities that are challenging!

Hope you enjoyed that little product review!  If you have longer hair, I definitely recommend this iron!  Let me know what you think.

Happy Saturday!

Stay tuned later today, when I will be posting about a SPECIAL EVENT that took place this afternoon!