Monday, August 31, 2015

Flip Flops and Tire Tracks

Wow. August is almost over and this is only the second blog post of the month. I knew when I started teaching, that certain things would fall by the wayside. However, I know it's important to keep this up. I also need to start a website just for my art classes. 

What have my classes been up to? Well, a few things, but the big one being these Flip-Flops that I encouraged they design in a Mendhi/Henna style. We used foam to back the paper and also the foam for the toe straps. No, these aren't wearable. I'm rather impressed by the variety and approaches they took with this project!
Around the tail end of the Flip Flop project was being hit with Strep Throat last week. Yes, strep. Again. I feel like I'm repeating the early 2000s again - only without the benefit of being ten years younger. From around 2002 on, I was constantly getting strep throat. They came with high fevers (104 being the highest, I remember) and after I finished the antibiotics, a few months later, another infection was back. I remember I had strep throat just weeks before I got pregnant with Christian (remember your lovely wedding reception, Rebecca? lol) and then just a few weeks after I had him, I got it again! It was ridiculous. 

It was time to get my tonsils yanked and I had the procedure done in 2006. But any doctor (or adult that has gone through it) will tell you, having them removed as an adult is so much worse than having them removed as a child. However, it was time to do it anyway. And despite an arduous and long recovery that I do not wish on anyone (I didn't really turn a corner until day 9), the strep infections did stop. Well, mostly. I'd have a sore throat here and there, but nothing like what I went through before. That is, until 2015! I had a horrible strep infection last April and then again last week. 

Jokingly, I blame Wickenburg. It didn't keep happening again until we moved here. Or maybe my tonsils grew back. You know, like lizard tails. 

Anyway, so that didn't help. And yes, in true fashion of contagious ailments, Chris has strep now. Luckily he's been on the antibiotics for about 24 hours. 

If that wasn't enough, Saturday afternoon I was driving back from running some errands in the Peoria/Glendale area. I was on the 74, and the back rear tire blew. And yes, in full disclosure, I was going about 80 mph.

It was pretty scary. It briefly sent me into the opposite lane, but luckily no one was there. That would have been bad if there was. I don't even want to think about that. 

I managed to get control of the car rather quickly and hobbled to the side of the highway. While I knew I wasn't too far from the 60 intersection, I didn't even see a mile marker behind me or up ahead to know exactly how far I was from the 60. I was so shaken I was panicking as I was looking for my phone when it was in my lap the whole time. 

Anyway, I called Chris, but he was at least 20 miles away and I'd be waiting awhile. I could have called our roadside assistance, but being in the location I was, I'd probably be waiting even longer than I would be for Chris. 

Still, as I was waiting for him, I chose not to get out and explore the possibility of changing the tire. I was too shaken up and it was hot outside. Plus, the tire that blew was on the street side of the car. I didn't want to be fiddling on the side of highway with cars barrelling by. 

I was better off just sitting in the car with the engine and AC running.  About 30 minutes after the blow-out, a guy driving the opposite direction turned around and parked in front of me. I kept the faith that he was there to help and was trustworthy (another reason I didn't want to get out and check out the tire). Obviously, his intentions were to help. But it's sad in a world like this that we have to worry about the alternative. 

I learned his daughter teaches high school English down in Phoenix and he also lives in Wickenburg.  By the time he was done helping and the tire was changed and he went on his way, Chris still didn't arrive. I called Chris who was still about ten minutes away. I met him at the 60 Junction and he followed me home. Turns out, it blew out only five miles from the 60. I knew I wasn't too far from there when it happened. It's just hard to gauge on that stretch of the highway when it's just miles of straight road and cactus. 
Yep...that's pretty much it!

I talked Chris out of venturing back down into Surprise or something to get the tire taken care of that day. There was a social event in Wickenburg in a couple of hours with some other teachers and I was still shaken up from the initial blow-out. I didn't want to deal with the tire. I just wanted to go to the dinner and relax. 

 There was also body damage to the car and it could wait until Monday.

It was a little embarrassing when the Good Samaritan stopped, because I had so much crap in the car from my errands. I even had two Styrofoam heads back there! That's how the "teacher" discussion started. I had to justify the weird crap I had in my car. "I'm an Art Teacher" needed to come out quickly as I glanced at all the stuff that had to be moved to get to the spare tire. 

I'm sure Drama teachers may have the same problem with some of the weird props in their car. I'm just glad I didn't buy some of the Halloween limbs and skeletal stuff that I was tempted to as I was at the craft store.

Anyway, so that's August. I admit September is one of the hardest summer months because the heat just drags on...and on...and on while the rest of the country talks about the beginning of that autumn nip in the air and putting on sweatshirts and loving the feeling of the changing seasons. We get no such Septembers. 

Until next time!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Greetings from the Flip Side...

Well, here we are...three weeks into the school year. I know, it's kind of nuts that it's only August 22nd and it's already been three weeks of school. But that's Arizona for you. 

The weeks approaching the first day of school and the first week thereafter were exhausting. However, it's all been rewarding. The mood and climate of the district sure makes a difference. 
Picture of all the new teachers for the district and a couple of board members. July 2015
That said, the lack of money for art supplies in the classroom remains the same. Well, the lack of money for just about anything in any classroom remains the same. Again, that's Arizona for you. 

At the same time, there is more communication of what the actual nominal budget is for supplies. Sure, the number is completely insufficient for my amount of students, but at least I was given a number. I also have enthusiasm for an awesome collaborative public art project I would love for all my students to put together for the school and community. Sure, it requires more funding, but the town as a whole is supportive of the arts and education. I have more faith I can make this happen here in Wickenburg. 

It's amazing. A year ago, I wasn't even planning on being back in the classroom this soon and I was certainly hesitant and doubtful of going back to any Arizona classroom at all. However, looking at where I am now and how the circumstances have come together, this is obviously meant to be!  

Here's a little art sampling from those first two weeks. The big hair drawings are from our first week Get to Know You exercise. The project is called Bad Hair Day. Students create a funky hair style out of their name.  The letter collages below are the first big project. Taking inspiration from the fun and colorful text art of Pop Artist Robert Indiana, students chose one letter and made a colorful collage out of it.

That said, transition at home continues with the new house. We finally moved all of our new stuff out of the rental. It didn't help that all that was going on at the same time as the start of a new school year, but when it rains, it pours! And of course, the heat doesn't help either. 

Gosh, last week the heat really spiked. And of course that was a day that I had to go to Phoenix with Christian for a doctor's appointment. He and I left Wickenburg before noon and the dash read 106.  By the time we got down to the north Phoenix area to stop for lunch it was 111. When we left Central Phoenix around 2pm it read 117. We stopped at Costco for two things. Milk wasn't one of them, but we stayed in the big milk room giant cooler for over ten minutes. It was 41 degrees in there. It felt perfect. I didn't want to leave.

 The first week of school also meant Mikelle turned 15 and Alexander started Pre-School! I didn't get to be there to see him off, as his first day was also the first day for my students. Maybe that's a good thing so I could be spared of the tears of seeing my baby starting school. My friend Elyse (her husband is also a teacher in the district) takes the boys to pre-school.

First day! 8/4/15 The backpack is almost as big as he is!
I was so exhausted from that first week of pre-school that Mikelle's slumber birthday party at the house is a bit of a blur.  Wow. She's 15 and a Sophomore in high school. How can I be the Mom of a kid that old? That means I have to be old too!
January 2002...Rexburg Idaho   How can this snow angel be 15 already?!
Age 5...just as the freckles were starting to sprout!
Fun picture of her that I got away with a few months ago!
My students helped make some of these fun birthday posters, and the night before her birthday, Chris and I hung these at the entrance of the high school for Mikelle to see. She was hoping it was friends who did it. She seemed a little disappointed when she realized Mom and Dad were behind it. I tried to tell her that many 6th-8th grade "friends" made the posters, but she said she didn't know those kids, so that didn't count. Well, Christian is in one of my classes. He helped make one! So that counts.
Speaking of birthdays, Chris had his big 4-5 this week. Birthdays don't freak him out like they freak me out. He's more secure in that area. 

I posted this Throwback of him in August 1998 with Zoey in the shower. She was only about a year and half at the time. Now she's an 18 year old screaming diva bird. Well, she was a baby diva back then. Not much has changed.

Well, as far as getting everything up to speed, that's all I can muster right now. There is more of the June Oregon trip to recap (still...yes, I know....), but time to enjoy the only day to sleep in! 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We FINALLY Moved It...Moved It...

This is an abbreviated post for a lot of reasons. First, the above artwork is one I completed a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post it. It's an app I designed for a return-customer. I'd explain more about it, but I don't have the time for that right now. 

Anyway, we moved to the new house last weekend! Awesome, right? Well, yes. But we're not completely moved out of the old place and there is a lot of work to do there. Two, I had to start teacher training last week as the move to the new house was commencing. The training is very positive and it reinforces the feeling that I had months ago that this district and job is a great fit for me. However, the timing of the training is of course not the best with the moving. Three, there is no computer at the new house yet, and the computer access at the old house is limited since we're there to pack and clean. Not blog! lol 

Here's a funny occurrence in the middle of the craziness and stress of moving. I asked Mikelle to explain this box. Her handwriting is not the best. Do your best to read it. I'm not going to type what it says. 

She said "Dad told me to label it that way."  

Chris subsequently explained that the label meant the contents are figurines from our 90s pre-kid days like Earthworm Jim, Freakazoid (cartoons we loved that we cancelled way too soon and this was back when we watched cartoons on purpose!), Star Wars, comic books and such. 

Okay.... Did I mention the missionaries were helping us move? I hoped her poor handwriting kept the missionaries from reading what's was on the box.

One of my friends commented that when they moved, they labeled a box: Adult, not that kind! Haha I think with our DVDs I labeled the kid movie DVDs in a box, KID Movies and just another box called DVDs, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, the Oregon vacation saga will be continued, and I do have pictures of the new  house that we're finally living in (squeeeee!), but I'll have to add them to another post later. 

Instead, I'll show the vanity that I am so happy to bring to reality! In February, I drove up to Spring V alley (between Prescott Valley and Cordes Junction) and bought a white dresser from a lady that she posted on Craigslist. I picked this fun Annie Sloan chalk paint color (that Annie Sloan chalk paint stuff is amazing...let me tell ya!), enjoyed finding new hardware for it (Hobby Lobby hardware is 50% off every other week...just saying!), and then adding the dark wax finish. 

We tweaked the two top drawers so the piping of the vanity could fit in there. The bottom drawer is the one that we were able to keep functional. I wasn't expecting any of the drawers to remain functional, so that was a nice surprise.

Then of course, along with the vessel sink and faucet, we have the half-bath vanity! It's hard to get a "straight-on" picture because the half bath wall is right there and that's as far as backing up will allow.

Boys snuggling together in one of the last nights in the rental house... too cute!

Back to the regularly scheduled blog soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Washing Away in Wickenburg (and ongoing Oregon trip re-cap)

Wow... crazy stuff going on here! Yesterday, close to 4 inches of rain fell here in town. As a result, multiple roads were washed out and many homes and businesses were flooded. 

We lucked out in more ways than one. One, our rental property is right on the Hassayampa River and the river went crazy yesterday.
I think this is near the Hassaympa - RVs and Trailors washed out.
Ariel view of Hassayampa and where the 60 and 93 split from the first Roundabout
Luckily, the water didn't encroach near the house. Here is an ariel image of the rental in reference to the river. This image wasn't taken during the flood, but it does give an idea of how close we are to the river. We could hear it running fast behind us, however. We're at the pink star. (Well, for the next few days anyway!)
Google map satellite image of the river behind the rental property...there's always a little big of running water in that part of the river too, even when there isn't flooding.
Two, Chris and I were not even home, but the kids were home! Chris and I had to go to multiple stores yesterday to acquire items for the house such as hardware for the bathrooms like towel rings, hooks, mirrors, etc.  We had to hit three different Lowes, because of items that were in stock at one location and not another, etc. And Lowes wasn't the only place we needed to go. You know what isn't fun on a Saturday? Costco. Yeah, baby. At least it wasn't Snowbird season. And the sun was blocked out by the storm clouds. So there was that. Yes, horrible storms and floods were happening unbeknownst to us. But down in Phoenix (and Peoria and Surprise...loads of fun...), it was two-digit temperatures, a little bit of rain here and there and no sun due to beautiful puffy gray clouds. I'll take that perk of these summers any day! (except for what people went through up here in Wickenburg, that is... and the poor motorist on the 60 who was almost hit by a falling power line...)

Because the kids were home alone, thank goodness none of the flooding happened at home.  The crazy rain and storm did, but the worst of what happened with them at home alone was the power went out.

Our power was back up before midnight, but there were plenty of others south of us that were still without power this morning due to multiple power lines that went down between Wittman and into Morristown.

Power lines down in Morristown
Also, the new house is okay as well. It's located on the west end of Wickenburg. There were some dirty drainage mud in the road approaching our place, but nothing like the damage in the center and southeast of town.

As a result of so many people who were flooded out and affected by this, our church services were only an hour today and then many of the "flock" went to help those dig out from the flood. It wasn't unusual for a big part of our ward (congregation) to be dressed in jeans and grubby street clothes today because of the need to go help those who were impacted by the flooding. Chris, Mikelle and Christian went to work. I went home with Alexander because nothing could be accomplished if Alexander was there and it would be dangerous for him.
This place is known to be very helpful and friendly...if I ever need storage, I'd use them!

I think this is at Chaparral Ice Cream Parlor, but I could be wrong...

The Oregon Trip Saga Continues...June 24th and June 25th
Waldport and Newport
Switching gears, here is the continuation of the trip saga. I left off when we arrived in Oregon on Fathers Day (June 23rd). The next morning, I took advantage of a run back and forth on the Alsea Bay Bridge. It was a perfect overcast morning in the low 60s. Maybe it was still in the 50s. Either way, for a summer day, it was perfect.
 It's really hard to keep running, by the way, when there are a plethora of pictures to stop and take!  And check out the seagull nest. The first time I came by, the Mama wasn't too happy about that. However, the next time I came by, she was okay with my presence.  Then a bike rider came by and she flew off, but returned quickly. 
The pictures with only a few sea lions was on the west side of the bridge. The east side had a lot more sea lions. I loved how they would look up at me.

Later that day, we all caravanned a few miles up the road to Newport to enjoy the family tradition of eating at Mo's. If you're ever on the Oregon coast, eat at Mo's! There's also one in Cannon Beach and Florence. I've also eaten at the one in Florence.
Mo's in Newport

There were fifteen of us, so we had to sit at two different tables. My poor niece Maren was stuck at our table and she and her family (her brothers and Mom, Chris's sister) had to endure our spoon antics. I think Mikelle was at the other table and she was spared the embarrassment of her weird family.
I know the pictures of the three boys (Christian, Chris and Alexander) look practically identical, but the slight variation of the facial expressions are hilarious. Especially Alexander's!
Maren couldn't get the spoon to stay on her nose. Haha

After Mo's, everyone was heading to the movie Inside Out. However, Chris and I were not going to subject ourselves with Alexander in a theater. Plus, he and I had to arrange for prints to be made of the family tree. Therefore, everyone went to the movie and Chris and I took Alexander for that errand.  We didn't plan it, but Alexander fell asleep in the car. Because of that luck, the three of us went back to the beach house and had a nice nap before everyone came back. That was one of the true "relaxation" parts of the vacation.  

The next part of the trip recap will include Christian's flight home and Mikelle, Chris, Alexander and I beginning our trip home that included Crater Lake. 

We should be moving into the new house this week! Let's make it happen! 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fathers Day Road Woes and Flooring Update

Friday July 10, 2015
I'm having a hard time being productive today. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's because it's Friday. Tonight we do hope to move a few things into a downstairs bedroom in the new house because that's the only room in the house that won't have flooring in it. It has everything else and it's done. It'll be an office/hobby room, so we'll move some things in there to hopefully accomplish more. 

As for the flooring in the rest of the house, more has been done and we also got downstairs pictures this time. 

HOWEVER, before I post more house pictures, in an effort to not go off the bend like the previous post, here is the next leg of our Oregon trip. 

Crescent City, California to Waldport, Oregon

We woke up on Fathers Day, June 21st in Crescent City (just south of the Oregon/California border). It was refreshing to finally be on that leg of the trip. It would be a beautiful coastal drive all the way up and we knew we wouldn't arrive late at night. We wouldn't even arrive in the evening. This would be an afternoon arrival! 

Mikelle was already in Waldport of course and she was also wanting us to arrive as it had been three days since we put her on the plane to Oregon.

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, this easier and shorter drive would mean the two boys would go total bat-crap crazy in their fighting and issues that seem to escalate from spending so much time in the car. That would complicate the "easy" drive and lengthen it. Instead of an early afternoon arrival it would be a later afternoon arrival.

I'm not sure what happened first - the boys and their fighting or the traffic ticket Chris was gifted in Bandon. Either way, it played out something like this: Alexander would annoy Christian. Christian was overly frustrated with Alexander. Then Christian would micromanage and overreact to every infraction Alexander was guilty of committing. Christian also would get angrier and angrier. Alexander would add to it by continuing to bother Christian.

Mikelle kept texting us asking us to hurry up. Between the ticket and the boys' crap, we had to slow it down. I would text her back our location and she would ask where that was. Frustrated, I told her to please look it up. Look, I'm not expecting her to have my same interest and aptitude for maps and geography. But I would at least like for her to use Geography. 

In the midst of all that, apparently at a stop at a convenience store along the way in some town, Chris said a guy in line behind him was laughing at me outside as I appeared very frustrated with the boys. Laughing, the guy said, "Someone has been on the road for awhile...!"  I walked inside the store and the guy greeted me in line as if he was a friend for life. At least I could laugh and vent. He was glad to hear that after three days on the road, we were "almost there".

As we creeped up the coast, I looked up a park in Florence (which was coming up) so Alexander could run around and play. However, before we got to Florence, we saw the Honeyman State Park. Even better! We stopped off there for some walking around and appreciating nature. We saw a bunch of people swimming. Being from Arizona, Chris and I laughed. It seemed like it would be too cold to swim! But there on the coast, it's probably as warm as it gets. Man, I wish I could live there! Grrrrrr! 

I'm not that impressed with the whole sand dune region of the central coast (maybe because I live in AZ and I've seen the sands of Tatooine, I mean, Yuma, a million times and I associate it with sun and heat), but this state park is an exception to that. So gorgeous! 

Honeyman State Park Photos:
Let's stretch our legs! Okay, sit there. We'll stretch our legs...
Cute wildlife on the trail...
More wildlife spotted on the trail...
Lush, shady, green trail!
Pink, in bloom, cool air... Love!

So gorgeous! Can that be my backyard please? Imagine a wedding or something here...
The dunes across the water...
Christian wasn't too happy to be walking around. Alexander even had a negative opinion about it. :sigh: (that's just a little idea of what I deal with on a daily basis and how nothing is good enough...unless it's a tech museum...) 

However, it was better than what was going on in the car.

Our next stop that I can remember was a late lunch in Yachats. We wanted to wait for dinner with the family, but we skipped lunch. Our late lunch at the Blue Whale didn't go very smooth either, but at least we were fed. Plus, we were practically at our destination. I have a picture below of Christian there when he and I went on our solo trip to Oregon in 2009!
This is NOT Alexander! This is Christian at the Blue Whale in June 2009!
Anyway, we finally arrived in Waldport. I think it was before 5pm. We were now in a spot we wouldn't have to pack up and move from for 3 days! 

The next posting will contain more Oregon Family Reunion pictures. Now for the house update...

Saturday July 11, 2015
After the sun went down last night, things became more productive. Yesterday was probably the coolest day for awhile at only 100 degrees. Isn't that sad? A 100 degree day is the coolest? Well, it is since it's going to be 110 by this time next week. Therefore, we loaded more boxes and took them to the garage of the new house. And because one bedroom downstairs won't have flooring, we already put the office shelves in there. 

Here are some photos from the flooring from this week that also contains downstairs photos. It was tough to get downstairs photos last time due the flooring in progress.
Master Bath
Looing into Master Bath. I messed up though with the vanity counter. More details on that later....
Downstairs Kids/Guest Bath
Downstairs Great Room

Downstairs Great Room

Until next time...