Category Archives: Random

Father’s Day at Wild Horse Pass- part 2

Click here to read part 1.

Later in the afternoon we picked up the older boys from the Adventure Club where they had been enjoying cookies and playing Wii. As they began to pitch their I-duwanna-leave fits I reminded them about the water slide and we were rolling.

Bummer about the slide: There is no lifeguard at the top. It is a great slide and my kids (and I) had a blast on it but the many kids in line to use the slide were left to their own judgement on an appropriate length of time between riders so I saw my kid shoot out the bottom once only to have a rather large tween girl land right on top of him. Once my kids decided to go down together, stand in the middle of the slide and wrestle we were done with that activity.

Dried off and hungry we prepared for our Ko’Sin evening dining experience. The restaurant was a bit fancier than I had anticipated and very beautiful. While we waited, Jack noticed this “nest” hanging from the ceiling. The highlight of this restaurant is definitely the kids menu. Kids items were prices just as reasonably as you would find them anywhere else and came with a bowl of fruit, followed by their entree and then dessert. Wow!

The adult menu is priced in the $20-30 dollar range, quite steep for me. Allen had the Pan Seared Marinated Pork Porterhouse Spiked with Mole ($28) while I ordered the Oven Roasted Game Hen ($28). My culinary trained husband called both dishes “crazy yummy and unique”. We shared bites and ooohed and awwwed but I will admit to being jealous of Jack’s burger at the same time. Jack ordered the cheeseburger ($5.25) off the kids menu which included everything you see here. Wow. I was glad we didn’t order an appetizer. The other boys got macaroni and cheese ($4.25), their standard.

I will hand them this, Ko’Sin knows how to treat a kid. After their plates were cleared the were each served a bowl of chocolate mousse covered in cookie crumbles and garnished with a couple of gummy worms. You guessed it: worms in the mud. Now, that’s what I’m talking about. Allen and I shared a piece of the most beautiful Big Fat Chocolate Cake I’ve ever seen which we didn’t even come close to finishing. We were happy campers!

After dinner, we retired to our room and woke up on Father’s Day to go to church with my family in Ahwatukee, quite conveniently located just down the street from the resort.

Bottom line: We had a great time last year at the Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa’s LEGO Mini-Build but this year they outdid themselves. We would definitely do it again and have recommended the package to our friends and family. Thanks Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa!

Disclaimer: We were hosted by the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa for the weekend and by Ko’Sin restaurant.


Father’s Day at Wild Horse Pass

We were lucky enough to spend another weekend at Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa this year for their LEGO Mini-Build family package and I wouldn’t have thought it possible but this year was even better! For one, we spent an extra night at the hotel this year giving us extra time to swim and enjoy the resort. Secondly, Stephanie Heckathorne (the brains behind the LEGO Mini-Build family package) and the LEGO team threw in some extra games and activities at the actual LEGO build which made it an even better experience for the kids.

We arrived at the resort Friday night, unloaded our things and headed straight down the the pools we grew so fond of during our stay last year. Then we turned in early with visions of multi-colored LEGO bricks dancing in our heads.

I knew better than to worry about breakfast Saturday morning. The snack spread at the Mini-Build included fruit, granola bars, cookies, chips and breakfast bars… a little something for everyone in my posse.

I even let my kids go for the sugary drinks that early in the morning. Hey, what is vacation good for if you can’t throw your every day dietary guidelines and restrictions out the window?

When things got rolling each boy sat down with his own commemorative LEGO barbecue grill kit with one brick engraved with the place and date. Why a barbecue grill? Why, in honor of Father’s Day of course!

Once finished with their barbecue grills, the kids participated in the LEGO free-build on the floor (out of which came some phenomenal LEGO sculptures) or in races to see who could build the most LEGO men in a given time period. My William had no trouble keeping up with the big boys and Chris wasn’t much behind him! As a bonus, each of my kids went home with a super-cute green LEGO tractor which they put together in our room later.

Since the older boys were headed to the Adventure Club after the Mini-Build, Allen and I took Jack on a boat ride down the river. Last year the boats shuttled folks to and from the old casino, now you can ride out to Rawhide and we even picked a group of out-of-towners up from the golf course.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about our adventures at the pool, the kids’ first trip down a water slide and our review of the Ko’Sin restaurant at Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa!

And be sure to check out last year’s trip here!

Too wild for my wild things

If you’re planning to take your kids to see Where the Wild Things Are this weekend, think twice. I sent my husband, two of my boys, my 11-year-old sister and my in-laws to the movie last night without me and 2-year-old Jack. That turned out to be a good choice. According to the crew I sent, the movie was well done, the special effects were amazing and the storyline valuable but this cinematic interpretation of one of our favorite children’s books is not for children.

*spoiler alert*

The plot is heavy. Max, the main character has trouble at home and has a couple of traumatic exchanges with his sister and mother before he runs away to an island of monsters where the movie takes a violent turn. The monsters play hard. Too hard. One game consisting of “wild things” throwing clumps of dirt at each other took place over others’ pleas for a merciful end, leaving one monster significantly wounded.

Later, when asked what their favorite part of the movie was, my kids responded thus:

Chris (4): Zero

Will (5): When the monsters were throwing dirt at each other! And when he ripped that other monsters arm off! And when she knocked those birds out of the sky with rocks.

Hmmm… Between Max’s real life tantrums, threats from spike-toothed monsters to eat him and weighty emotional themes, I would have probably spared my kids this experience. On a positive note, said my husband, “Parents of young kids might really enjoy this movie. If they leave their kids at home.”

Feeling the loss


Braden's last school picture

Senator Ted Kennedy succumbed yesterday to the same monster that took my little brother. Two decades ago (can it have been that long?) we discovered by blessed chance that my brother had an aggressive and deadly tumor taking over his brain. This discovery bought us time. Time to cope, prepare and say good-bye. There were surgeries, lots of radiation treatments, chemotherapy, all things no eight year-old should have to deal with. Within a year [correction by my mom: 5 months] my brother was gone.

I mentioned the cancer to an oncologist I met at a Phoenix Children’s Hospital lunch a couple of years ago. “My brother had glioblastoma multiforme.” His gaze fell ground-ward and wandered. I didn’t need to tell him the outcome.

I continue to be grateful for the time we did have after Braden’s diagnosis. His doctors gave us an awesome gift; those late memories of my brother are clearer than any others. He played Nintendo every spare second, continued to go to school when he could and even felt well enough at one point for a Make-A-Wish sponsored trip to Disney World in Orlando where we caught a baby alligator on a fishing line. He wore a hat, always, to cover his funny haircut and stitches and a smile below the brim. He was calm and seemed to have a better understanding of what was going on than any of us. He didn’t cry or complain but played the hand he was dealt.

My heart hurts for the Kennedys whose world has been ravaged by this heinous disease and I continue to hope and pray that “someday” will bring a different ending to stories that start like ours.

My Arizonan badge of honor

It felt like I stepped on a searing hot nail. Blazing pain shot through my foot. I was in a focused hurry so by the time I picked up my foot and turned to look I didn’t see anything on the floor but the terra-cotta colored tile. I finished my project, ran up the stairs and lay down next to my husband with my feet up. We talked for a bit… our usual nightly routine, while I waited for the pain to subside. Instead it grew. “I think I stepped on something downstairs,” I calmly told my husband. No sense in making a big deal out of nothing. He had to get up early and needed his sleep.

“Let me see,” Allen reached for my foot and I winced. The pain pulsed and gradually radiated up my leg and a tingly feeling crept up from my toes. The results of his inspection revealed the tiniest pinprick of a spot on my foot instead of the torn flesh that should accompany this kind of pain. My foot still in his hand, the tingling reached my shoulders. Then the tremors started. First my hands shook, then my legs and once my head filled with the fuzzy fog, my jaw shuddered uncontrollably. Piecing things together, Allen got on the phone to poison control. “Yep,” replied the voice on the other end of the line. “She was stung by a bark scorpion.” My symptoms were all the confirmation she needed. “She’ll be okay,” the voice counseled. “It’s just not going to be a fun night and symptoms might linger for a day or two.”

We elevated my foot and my husband went to bed. I lay in the dark for hour upon hour as my body shook and jerked and a ceaseless steam of tears drenched my pillow. My mouth felt somehow full of tongue and at some point the sensation of cold water being poured over my head, followed by a similar warm shower, joined and haunted me for the rest of the night.

I prayed for sleep. And when that wouldn’t work I nudged my husband and asked him to find a way to knock me out. I begged. Not my finest hour. It was another couple hours until sleep overcame me. I woke to my baby’s cries down the hall and as I stood from my bed, my leg wouldn’t hold me. Nausea came and went all day along with headaches and pain around the sting. Days later and halfway down my stairwell with a baby in my arms my leg again turned to Jello. My free hand shot out to grab the banister and the other clung to my child.

Two months later I was stung again and was pleasantly surprised to find that all scorpions are not created equal. Although painful, the sting of this scorpion was localized and endurable.

Strangely, living through the sting of a bark scorpion has left me less phobic than I was before. Not to mention that I finally feel like a true desert dweller.

Should have stayed in bed

I got up at a six the other morning after very little sleep, jumped in the shower, dumped shampoo on my head and within seconds, my wailing two-year-old appeared at the bathroom door. “Good morning!” I attempted to cheer him although his continued shrieks and apparent confusion at being awake suggested that he didn’t agree. I crooned lovingly, clapped and smiled around the shower curtain while lathering my head, to no avail. Frozen in the doorway his tomato-colored face contorted, tears streamed down his hot cheeks and the screaming intensified. I rushed through my shower, wrapped a towel around my head, half dressed and swept my baby back into bed to cuddle. Bad idea when you’re on a time line. I woke up again at 7:30 leaving me a half-hour to wake the boys, dress and feed them all and get us in the car and on the way to get pictures taken. I leapt from bed, padded to the boys’ room, my wake-up song on my lips and stopped short. The door was ajar. Bad sign.

Sure enough, after dressing, (Where were my pants? Had to settle on my good capris with the yet-to-be repaired snag) gathering clothes and descending the stairs I found two boys — one at the table, one on top of it– with every jar of playdough we own opened, contents smeared across the table and smashed into the carpet. “Cereal in a bag it is!” I sang in the face of two guilty stares I lacked the time to deal with. Cereal in bags, I attempted to pull matching shirts for each boy from my assembled pile of clothing. There were two shirts but where was the third? I raced up the stairs in utter panic where I tore through the boys’ closet, the dryer and the clothes hamper. There it was at the bottom… rumpled, damp and (oh, yes) strawberry stained. One hand spread across the back of the shirt while one reached for liquid laundry soap, poured too much over the shirt, and I scrubbed. I scrubbed in the soap, scrubbed under the bathtub faucet, soaked, scrubbed and wrung out the shirt and stuck it in the dryer with a load of clean towels.

Got the kids in the car, ran up and pulled the damp shirt from the dryer — have to say it looked pretty good– and was off to a friend’s house for pictures. We pull up, I unbuckle the boys, pull them from the car and notice Christopher’s dirty, shoeless feet. “Oooh…” he stammered. With a chest-heaving huff I slam the car door and approach the house where my children waited. I waited, staring into the stucco, trying to slow my racing heart and then thought to ask, “William, did you ring the doorbell?” “No,” he responds. “Will you ring it?” He stares at me. Another huff and I reach over his head to press the button. Nothing. Huff, huff… Ring again. The dogs are barking, the car is in the drive… Ring again. Call… get voice mail. Ring. Kids back in the car. Out of gas. Stop at a nearby station. Pump won’t take my old, decrepit card. Have to leave kids in the car. Woman behind the counter speaks little English. “Pump five?” “No, pump seven,” I repeat, patiently. “Pump five?” She repeats. “Pump seven,” I enunciate. “How much on pump five?” Grrrrr…

Pump gas, snag in capris turns into large hole, get home, toss favorite capris. Get call from friend, “I’m so sorry!” she exclaims. “My husband woke up and couldn’t hear in one ear so we ran to the urgent care. I’m so sorry!” She repeats. “Not a big deal,” I mean it as I look over at another son whose shirt was clean, present and accounted for this morning and realize it has set-in stains all down the front. Strip him, soap, scrub, soak, toss in dryer. Smell smoke, run downstairs to find black smoke pouring from the microwave. Apparently Chris wanted an English muffin. Pack kids back in car, take pictures in the heat, come home, pass out.

I hate moving

We’ve all recovered from the flu, packing and cleaning for the move has resumed and I want to quit. I’m so stressed out and overwhelmed that the little sleep I get is agitated by my subconscious to replaying and dumping all of my hectic moments and stresses into my consciousness throughout the night. We really lived in this house. It has been well-loved and its every crevice crammed with our overabundance of belongings. Pulling our life and home from this place has been a monumental task and I’m now paying the price for two years (interestingly, the lifespan of my youngest child) of neglect and distraction. And as I did with our last move, with each box I pack and each cupboard I declutter I vow never to let our stuff overtake us again.

I am now (okay… again) on a mission to organize and am very grateful to have come across some brilliant ideas for my worst, peskiest problems. Clutter offender #1, for me: paper. I hate paper! My son comes home from school with several pages each day from school, we have papers from the doctor, papers from my husband’s work, boxes of papers from my work and magazines stacked sky high. If I didn’t just throw them in a box and stuff them into a garage, I feel like I would be stuck sorting papers all day every day of my life. Unfortunately for me, I get to tackle all of those boxes now.

A friend of mine and one of those organized mommies, Meredith recently shared with me her system: her daughter walks in the door from school, shows Mom her work and then tosses it in the recycle. Why did I never think of that? So, as painful as it is for me, a hard-core keepsake keeper (“But maybe when he’s older he’ll want to see the progression of his letter W handwriting pages.”) I am doing it. It comes in and goes right back out, save a few special things I know he might actually care about.

Meredith also turned me on to a friend’s blog on which was posted one of the coolest ideas I’ve ever seen. Katrina’s put together an enormous medical binder for each of her kids with doctor’s cards, immunization and medical records and all kinds of other goodies that can’t seem to find a place in my home. I’m off to pick up binders for my kids tonight! With those, a couple of kid-art binders and about a million plastic sheet protectors, I’m seeing an end to my paper woes off in the distant horizon. Thanks ladies! By the way, check out Katrina’s idea for organizing kid’s books too… genius! And Meredith’s idea for a gadget charging station.

Clutter offender #2: clothes. Okay, so I’m really never going to fit into those pre-marital jeans that I loved so much. It’s just not going to happen. They’re all gone! Yay! We got rid of more than half of the clothes that we were hanging onto and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much this one effort has affected our overall organization. I was, however, dismayed to find that no matter how few clothes you own, you will always have clothing clutter until you learn to put 1-2 loads of laundry through the wash and back onto hangers every day. Huge bummer! I keep thinking there’s a secret to this one that I’m missing.

Clutter offender #3: toys. Still no solution to this problem. We’ve gotten rid of more than half of the kids’ toys in the great gutting and it took days to gather them all from the far corners of the house. This is the aftermath of the failed rotating bins idea. I’m sure you’ve heard this one. You put all of their toys in three, five, or seven bins and rotate each day which toys the kids play with. The catch: your kids have to know how to clean up the toys when they are finished and before they move on to the next one. (Okay, so this is the catch with any system) Otherwise they end up under the couch, the bed, in the wrong bag or bin, in the toilet… anywhere but where they belong.

It feels awesome to get organized but I am frustrated to be starting from scratch again with so few days until the move. For now I’m burning the candle at both ends, plowing along and forgetting my life outside this house. I’m sure I’ll get some sleep by late June.