Thursday, April 28, 2011

Final Birthday Post

So finally, we come to the end of the April Birthday Madness!

This cake was made by Bonnie, Aja's dear friend. It was so A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E. that I had to post 2 pictures of it!

She made cupcakes for the kids also...

Aja decided long ago that instead of giving her children actual birthday presents, she would instead give them a great party. If you remember, Stella had a "Princess" party with a  "real" princess who came and entertained the kids for an hour. It amazes me at how different these two little girls are...Alakina requested a "Critter" party this year. She had seen a display of a petting zoo of sorts at an expo last year and wanted them to come to her house for her birthday. So this is what she got:

a Tarantula *ugh*

A baby Aligator...

Ali was brought up to hold some sort of (really ugly) lizard...she wouldn't do it so Aja went up!
This is actually my daughter being a VERY good mother and a VERY good actress! She doesn't like animals of any kind let alone creepy reptiles...she put on a good face and it warmed up the kids to see her holding this creepy, really ugly lizard with a really long forked tongue...
The Tortoise was very well received...

But he lost me when he put the Scorpion in his mouth...(I'm STILL having nightmares about this!!)

He brought out a few snakes and finally this 15 ft Albino Boa Constrictor...

Natalie and her roommate Jessica embraced the new boa...(sorry, it's so blurry)

Even Alakina and a few of her friends braved the snake...

Tage wanted to keep the little guy..
Little Lucy was able to pet the Tortoise...

I'm sorry the pictures are so blurry...I actually didn't take any of them Aja lost hers and I think that she wasn't familiar with my camera.

Blurry pictures and all, it was a great party and Ali had a BLAST!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birthday Madness

April is a pretty big month around here for birthdays. Miss Alakina turned 5 this past week and she blew it out in style! First Aja had a party on the actual night of her birthday for the family. Alakina requested "Chicken-on-a-stick" (??) which we figured was Shish-ka-bobs. They were actually delicious and along with grilled veggies-on-a-stick, it was mighty tasty.

Next came the cake. Since the kids were 2 years old, Aja lets them decorate a cake for all of us. This is this years masterpiece:

I think there were more sprinkles than cake and every color of the rainbow was represented! She was SO proud of her creation...It was delicious and we all ate it!
Of course we had gifts for her and she was in heaven! She is actually a very gracious little girl and is very thankful for all she receives.

Her little brother loved the cake...and this is the end result of his feasting:

I envy someone who really gets into their food...what more can I say??

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Aww, Cell Phones

I absolutely LOVE the convenience my cell phone offers me. I stand amazed when I hear someone say that they don't have one, realizing that they are certainly in the minority these days. It seems like EVERYONE has one and it's difficult for me to imagine what life would be like without my precious little "friend".

Now I could go on for hours about the benefits of having modern communication at our fingertips 24/7. I think we all know and appreciate how great these little devices are. There is no doubt that they have saved many lives and prevented many inconveniences. HOWEVER...

I have a HUGE pet peeve. Maybe I should re-phrase that and say that I have MANY pet peeves associated with these modern miracles...

1. People talk too LOUD: People think that these state-of-the-art phones have no volume on the other end and feel the need to elevate their voices when speaking into them. Really?? I don't need to hear all of your dirty laundry!

2. I hate when someone is checking out at the store and keep yacking away while the cashier is trying to help them...that's just rude.

3. I just love how the new way to break-up is through texting {{insert sarcasm}}. Can you really convey your deepest, most intimate feelings about a "meaningful" relationship with abbreviations??

4. I went to a student ward (church meeting) and EVERY kid in Sunday School had their phone out. I know that many were following along with their downloaded scriptures, but I saw an awful lot of "finger-action" on those tiny little keyboards...I saw a lot of Facebooking going on as well...

5. Driving on the open highway to California, the car in front of us was swerving all over the road. We decided to pass him and YES, he was texting!

6. My adorable step-daughter was over and wanted to watch a movie. Now bear in mind that hubs and I weren't thrilled with her choice but we placated her and watched it...we watched it, she texted through the entire show!

7. Speaking of movies, I just love when I'm really into a movie (in a theater) and someone in front of me is texting. The light on the phone is like a spot-light in an interrogation room!

8. My all time favorite...when I was a Flight Attendant doing the Safety Demo and a passenger was taking my picture with his smart phone...Really?!? Are you that desperate?

OK, you get the point. I really hate to complain in my posts, but this is OUT-OF-CONTROL. It's everywhere and I know that all of you have experienced many of the same frustrations that I have regarding this issue.

When I got my first cell phone back in 1995, very few people had one. I noticed that those who did made sure that those who didn't knew that they were one of the chosen few. That has changed now as everyone has one...even elementary school aged children carry one so their parents "can always know where they are".

There are still those who think they are impressing everyone by rearing back to send their bell-like laughter into the unwired ether. And many cellphone calls are the inane (to anyone nearby) with calls full of "...and then I go...and then he goes."

No wonder cellphone backlash, even cellphone rage is with us. I read one report where two men were in a cafe and were beaten and their phones destroyed by two others after the pair ignored repeated requests to curb their loud and continuous yakking on their phones.

The cell rule for places of worship: Leave the phone at home, in the car or at least turn it off before you enter. God may call you, but it's unlikely He will use Verizon.

In business, the face-to-face customer always seems to be secondary to the prospective one on the phone. Just visit any department/grocery store and see.

Love it or hate it (or both) the phone is supreme. We are all in our own way slaves to it. Now here's a thought: Do you really want to be available all the time? Does that truly make you more productive, or does it just spread the productivity thinner over more time?

Keep in mind, the more available you make yourself the more available everyone will expect you to be. People will actually be miffed if you are not instantly and constantly available rather than being pleased when you do call.

Ask yourself: Do I really need to be - or want to be - "connected" 24/7/365? And ask: what's it doing for that tension across my upper back?

But how about the noise of the user? It's an interesting matter - why do cellphone users shout into it as if it were a tin can connected to another by a string? I have a friend whose normal tone of voice is perfectly, well, normal. But let her flip open her cellphone and you'd think she's trying to yell at deaf Uncle Albert in the lower forty over the pocketa-pocketa of a Fordson tractor.

I said one day at lunch when her bellowed "hello" had turned a few heads, "You know, there's a microphone in that little thing. It can hear you." I later set an exercise for her - if she felt required to change the level of her voice in the transition from face-to-face to phone, try lowering it. She did. It worked famously. Now no one can tell if her talk is phone time or face time. Try it.

And if you can't be heard, don't raise your voice; raise your body and exit to the back hall where the pay phones are. Or go outside among the other jackhammers and shout all you like. Realize that shouting in a restaurant (an office hallway, a bus, a bookstore) is rude and uncalled for, whether you have a phone in front of your face or not. If you are not aware that you are shouting (and some are not) then take your cue from the response of those around you. If anyone looks, lower your voice.

If you can summon the discipline to be unavailable at certain times - and even for uncertain lengths of time - it's doubtful much will change, except your peace of mind. I remember from childhood a friend's mother at an eat-over-supper halting her daughter's urge to jump up and answer the phone. She told her: "If it isn't important you've wasted the effort; if it is important they'll call back." And that was before we had answering machines or recording devices that picked up after a few rings. That phone call was like the tree in an unpeopled forest: it fell and was forgotten, unnoticed forever.

I never recall having the 24/7 connection to my mother when I was a kid. I told her where I was going, I called when I got there and then I called if I went somewhere else. I kept in touch because I was taught values and the importance of being honest about where I said I would be. If I was driving somewhere, I told her the route I was taking so if I didn't show up in a timely manner she would know where to come find me. It worked...I survived and I'm still here.

The world still turned.


Monday, April 25, 2011

About Passion

I am always a little in awe of people who have a real passion for something specific. Both my mother and my brother are two of those blessed people, or maybe "gifted" is a better word. My mother is highly gifted, talented and passionate with her music. She has played the violin her entire life, talks about it constantly, relates every "life lesson" to music and is actively involved at the age of 80 in playing her violin in the Utah Symphony on a regular basis.

My older brother, Mark is passionate for Aviation. He is a pilot for United Airlines and not just any pilot, he is a B-777 Captain who flies from LAX to Tokyo to Singapore to Tokyo to LAX. He has loved flying for as long as I can remember and I always knew he would be a pilot...always! He too eats, drinks and breathes flying.

So where does this type of passion come from? I don't think I have ever been as passionate as they are about ANYTHING! Don't get me wrong, I love music, flying, art, golf, family, grandchildren and the list goes on and on...but to be so completely enthralled in something for so many years is foreign to me. I believe it becomes a significant part of who you are!

I guess you could say that I am envious of people who possess that kind of passion. I heard a young man once say that he never felt passionate about anything! He had searched and searched his adult life for something to feel passionate about to no avail. He turned to drugs, alcohol and women. Of course, that led to an empty life so after years of struggle, he was able to become clean and sober. He even gave up his womanizing ways. What he found, when he cleaned up and could think clearly, was that he was still empty! His story went on, and the bottom line was that he realized that he had to turn to God.

My son has struggled for 9 years with drugs and alcohol to varying degrees. He has been clean from drugs for several months now and as of today, he is 25 days sober. That doesn't seem like much, but it's HUGE as compared to the past 9 years of daily indulgences. He has stated numerous times that he is "confused". When I spoke to him lsat week and asked him about his confusion, he told me that now that he is clean AND sober, that he is confused as to what direction to take. It's been a long time since he has been able to have a clear mind and he's not real sure how to handle that because it's so foreign to him! He is heavily involved in CA, HA and now AA. This is helping but he is confused because he now has to find himself and THAT is something he has never had to do in the past!

I know that he will find his way, wherever that may be. He will one day figure out that he must find that "higher power" (a term I really don't like) and that "higher power" is simply God! He will come to realize that the fullness of life cannot be realized until he surrenders his will to the Lord's. I have faith in him that it will happen. He was raised with faith and he was taught about God and Jesus Christ. He went to church and he was taught right from wrong.

So passion comes in different forms. I ADORE my family...every last one of them! Maybe I don't need to be passionate about music or flying...maybe I just need to recognize that my talents and abilities are very different from those of my mother and brother. I will probably never experience the intense drive for something like they have..and maybe that's O.K.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Beach

Living in the mountains, most of my grandchildren have never seen the ocean. My grandson, Anthony, has been on a cruise with his parents and has played on the beach, but he was quite young (maybe 2??) and probably doesn't remember too well. Alakina saw the beach when she too was about 2 years old with no memories except for pictures. My other 3 *Littles* have never seen the ocean...until last week.

After our 2 days at the Magic Kingdom, Aja wanted to make sure her kids saw a REAL beach. We live between two beautiful lakes with "beaches" so to speak, and they get so excited each time we pass them on our way down the canyon, but what they saw in California was more than they could have inagined!

We decided that Newport Beach was the closest to where we were staying and we headed out one morning. It was a bit windy and the temp was about 70° F which can be a bit chilly with the wind off the ocean. But it didn't stop us. The girls were SO excited and were out of the car almost before we came to a complete stop! They ran to the sand and we quickly marked our beach territory with our towels and blankets. They LOVED every second of it!


I have never seen a kid eat so much sand in my life as Tage did! And he didn't stop! He took handfuls and poured it over his head, on the blankets and in the food. It was everywhere and he didn't care. He was enthralled with the seagulls and chased them unmercifully! The girls quickly started making their sandcastles and collecting shells.
Aja and Ryan took them to the waters edge thinking that since the water was so cold (all of the surfers had wetsuits on) that they would put their toes in but that would be it...Uh, no...Alakina wanted to go all the way in. She had no fear and didn't worry about the water temp in the least!
of course, they had to bury their dad!

It totally took me back to when we used to take our kids to San Diego with their cousins. They would play so hard and collected so many shells. Sand was always everywhere and my nephew was always chasing the was complete Deju Vu for me! Such sweet memories of great times with my own children.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alakina!

This little girls turned 5 today! She is my first grandchild and she was my 50th birthday present (born the day after my birthday). She said to me today, "Nana, I'm done with 4"!

She is outgoing, extremely friendly, very popular with her friends, passionate about life, loving and smart. We are good buddies and I love her with all my heart.

She had a rough start in this world, coming way too early and spending several weeks in the NICU, but she is a fighter and is strong now.

Happy Birthday, Alakina...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Can't We All Just Play Nice...??

While we were in California last week, I had an interesting experience. We were waiting for our shuttle from Disneyland back to our hotel. This is a big area and there are lots of people waiting at an assigned's brilliance, to say the least. Anyway, as we were waiting for our shuttle to arrive, I could hear someone screaming profanities behind me. I turned to see a woman with 4 small children (probably ages 5 on down) and one teenager probably about 14 or 15.

The language she was using was pretty raunchy, lots of F-bombs and just about every other curse word you can imagine. It was obvious that she was incredibly angry with whomever she was speaking with on the phone. I was uncomfortable but thought that surely she would end her call soon...not so. She went on and on and even stopped to yell at her children to "Shut Up". After about 5 minutes, I walked closer to her (now remember, there are lots of people around with lots of children...after all, it is the Happiest Place on Earth, right?!?) and I said in a loud, frustrated but as kind-as-I-could voice, "Hey, please keep it down. There are children here." WELL...she put her phone in her lap, waved her finger at me and started to yell at me, whipping attitude and telling me to stay out of her "business" and that she was not in my "business" and to "go back and take care of my family".

This set me off! I stood my ground and again said, "Just keep it down, I don't care who you're talking to or what you're saying, just please stop screaming and talk quietly" reminding her again that there are children all around. She yelled at me some more and I reiterated again. We had about a 60 second exchange and finally she dropped her tone and spoke more quietly to finish her call.

Of course, our shuttle took FOREVER to arrive. Since she was at another stop marker, I figured she was heading somewhere else...Oh no, not so! When our shuttle arrived, she and her children made a bee-line for our bus. Aja was appalled and told me we would wait for the next shuttle. I told her "We are SO getting on this bus". This angry woman did NOT intimidate me in the least. We let them board first and then we boarded.

Now we are the only people on the bus. It seemed to take forever to arrive at our hotel but after several stops, we were there and OF COURSE, she was staying at our hotel! Again, we allowed them to get off first and I was the last person off the bus. I thanked the driver, I stepped off the last step of the bus and this woman walked right up to me! She touched my arm and said, "Ma'am, I apologize for getting in your face, you were right." She then proceeded to tell me that her life was falling apart and she shouldn't have been so loud and used such language. She didn't want me to think that she abused her children and she kept apologizing to me.

I told her that I was sorry her life was falling apart and that I wasn't there to judge her. I assured her that I didn't even care what she said in her personal phone conversation, it wasn't my business, but as a mother I was sure she could understand my protective nature of children including hers! (that really hit her). I also told her that I wished her well, that I wasn't a hater, that I wanted the best for her and her family. She kept apologizing to me and looked like she was about to cry. I gently touched her arm and told her that I respected her for having the courage to come up and tell me that she was sorry. We spoke for about 2 minutes and finally said good-bye. Then she said, "Thank you and God Bless You!" It was actually very touching.

I feel that we, as a society, have come to accept unacceptable behavior and often we stand back and say nothing. I have been guilty of this many many times. But I knew in my heart that her behavior was out-of-line and that I had a responsibility to my sweet grandchildren and the other innocent children around me. My heart ached for her beautiful children.

I am FAR from perfect. I share this not to boast, but to say that I came to realize that most people have a conscience. And if they have any sort of conscience, it eventually begins to work on them. To her credit, this woman had the courage to apologize and admit her errors in judgment.

Personally, I think we need to take a stand for what we know to be right. I am tired of excusing behavior that DOES affect me and my family and does "get into my business". We live in a day and age where profanities are dropped into everyday conversations. It's all around us and we tend to become complacent and just accept it as the norm. Well, it's not O.K and we don't have to take it! I don't profess to be even close to perfect and I don't expect that from anyone else. I'm not here to police others. I'm trying to "clean up my own backyard" so to speak, but I don't regret for a second confronting her. It's a beautiful world and we all need to "play nicely in the sandbox"...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn!

With her Great-Grandma Lois
It was this precious little girl's birthday on April 10th. I didn't post about it because my computer was in the shop and then I left for my vacation. But, I wanted to take a moment to share with you this sweet *Little* granddaughter of mine.

Brooklyn Kai was born in the morning on April 10. She is now 2 years old and is a sweet little thing who gives her mommy a run for her money! She is stubborn and strong-willed. Quiet and sweet. She loves "babies" (dolls) and mostly, she ADORES blankets! and she is more serious than the others. Unfortunately, this sweet girl lives in Idaho about 4 hours from me, but I love her with all of my heart and miss her terribly.

Being Silly!
I am so glad that she is a part of our family and can't wait to see her soon! Happy (belated) Birthday, Princess!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

Is it really April already? I am utterly amazed at how fast time flies and how in the blink of an eye, the day is over! Is it just me??
I realize that I have only posted once this whole month. In months past I was pretty diligent and posted several times a week...I guess I haven't had much to say and for me, that's unusual.

I will say that this past week was a blast for me! Last Sunday, I left with Aja, her husband Ryan and their 3 kids to go to Disneyland for the week. It was the first time for the *Littles* and the second time for her hubs. As a child, I went to Disneyland many times during the year since my dad had to take people there for his work. I always loved it but it became rather routine and mundane at times and I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should have...then my kids came along and we took them usually twice a year with their cousins who lived in San Diego. Those were great times!

So to go back with a new generation was amazing! We arrived in California on a Monday afternoon and decided to take the kids (who were jumping out of their skins) to "Downtown Disney" which is between Disneyland and California Adventure. We had dinner at the "Rainforest Cafe" and the kids loved it! They were so excited to see the animated animals move around during dinner along with the "rainstorms"and thought they had died and gone to heaven...little did they know that the next day was going to blow their minds!

We arrived at the park just as it opened.

On the shuttle, ready to go!
Aja wrote her cell number on each of the kids arms with a black "sharpie" in case they got lost...Genius if you ask me! (she's not scarred, I erased the last 4 digits...)She also dressed them alike.

Aja immediately took us to Fantasyland to stand in line for Dumbo. She remembered that it was usually a long line and wanted to get it out of the girl. Mercifully, I got to sit that one out with the baby. The girls were thrilled and the adventure began...they could hardly contain themselves as they flitted from one ride to the next. The lines were unbelievably short and in fact the longest we waited was the Dumbo and Peter Pan lines!
Peter Pan was next, then Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Pinocchio.
Tage was in a bit of "shock and awe"...

To see the pure excitement on these *Littles* faces was worth everything. Of course, Aja had to get them "Ears"...

This was the ONLY picture of this little guy with ears on, hence the blur!

We ventured on to "Pirates of the Caribbean" which absolutely terrified Alakina! She would not face forward because the waterfalls scared her as well as the pirates, yet she LOVED "Big Thunder Mountain" which is a pretty crazy roller coaster, go figure. So when we got off of Pirates and Ali heard Stella rave about the ride, she decided she wanted to go on it again...she then loved it!

Ali terrified...

Of course the girls LOVED "It's A Small World"

See that cute little guy in Aja's arms? Well don't be fooled...Just moments after this picture was taken, he punched Mickey in the face! was pretty hilarious, especially when I heard Aja apologizing Mickey!! Had to be there, but trust me, it was hysterical!

The characters LOVED the girls...
Ali was crying and Goofy stopped to dry her sweet!

It was a great trip. I was TOTALLY exhausted when we got back home, but it was COMPLETELY worth it! Priceless!!