Monday, November 9, 2009

Sweet 16

It's hard to believe that it's been 16 years. Our precious little angel would be 16 today. We should be celebrating, having a sweet 16 party. Instead we continued our annual tradition of visiting our daughter at the cemetery on her birthday. We usually bring a stuffed toy, but we don't leave them anymore because the cemetery workers remove them. So we bring them home. We have a balloon release.
We try to make the best of it, but the best is so bad that "the best of it" is really an oxmoron. The pain is still so fresh. The memories can be so vivid that it's almost like I'm reliving those moments. The boys miss and love their sister so much. We all love and miss Jasmine so much.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jedi Training Academy

Dakota and Hunter are both huge Star Wars fans, so seeing the Jedi Training Academy was at the top of our list of things to do this year at Disneyland. Dakota did it two years ago, but Hunter hasn't seen it since he was young. The first time we tried, it got cancelled due to technical difficulties. This might seem bad, but to make up for it, they had the Jedis, Darth Vader and Darth Maul come out for pictures and autographs, which NEVER happens. We were lucky enough to have get in line quickly and meet all of the characters. Fortunately, the Disney Photo Pass photographers were on hand and took pictures, because ours were stolen by the previously mentioned craphead(s). Hunter was a bit nervous, especially with Darth Maul, but we managed to get him in the pictures.

We stuck around for the next session. No technical difficulties this time and both Dakota and Hunter were selected to participate. Of course, we had to tell the Jedi Master that Hunter was four, but it was just a tiny fib. Both of them battled Darth Vader, which is good, because I'm not sure Hunter could have handled Darth Maul! They were both brave Jedis and did a great job! They had a build your own lightsaber station at the shop outside of the Star Tours ride. I did have great pictures of them building their own Darth Maul (double sided) light sabers, but, well you already know... We now have something like 10 lightsabers at our house! I am so proud of my boys going up in front of all of those people and battling those scary guys!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sometimes Bribery is the Best Option (or Potty Talk, Part Deux)

Disclaimer: This picture is a recreation of the original that was lost when a big crap-head stole our stuff at Disneyland (the story was featured in a previous post).
We had an extra long Disneyland vacation this year. We bought annual passes and wanted to make sure that we were there long enough to get our moneys worth in case we couldn't make it back before the passes expire. We were originally going to stay for eight days, but due to the above mentioned crap-head(s), we stayed an additional day to try to recreate some of the photographs from the previous days.
This particular pose came about when we were in A Bug's Land at California Adventure, but was recreated in the line for Pirates of the Carribean. Hunter spied a cotton candy cart and decided he wanted some. Paul decided to make a deal with him. If he would poop, he could have cotton candy. Now, Hunter is going through the Freudian anal retentive stage of development, which also means that he is on a mission to never ever poop again. Not in Pull-Ups, not on a potty, so getting him to do it at all is a challenge. He has had his share of what he calls "butt medicine" followed by us forcing him to sit on the potty until it happens.
On this particular day, as soon as Paul told Hunter what he had to do to get the cotton candy, he was all for it. Hunter ran over to me and told me that he was going to get cotton candy when he pooped on the potty and proceeded to demonstrate for me how he would accomplish this miraculous feat! That would be the pose he is striking in the picture, how he poops on the potty. Paul then took Hunter into the restroom. Hunter came out telling me he "pooped a giant water bottle!" Apparently, that is what it looked like.
The bribery has continued since and I am amazed at how easily Hunter is able to perform for whatever it is that he wants. He pooped "two soccer balls" for a pirate sword, and another "giant water bottle" for something else. Hopefully, we won't be bribing him when he is a teenager, but for the time being, it works!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bad Blogger

I know I have been a bad blogger lately. I am slapping myself on the hand as I write this. I have been busy with school (my education that is), school (this reference is to my job) and vacation.

We had a great vacation in Disneyland until what was supposed to be our last day. We went on Splash Mountain at about 8:15 that evening. When we were almost on the ride, Paul asked me if I had the cameras, which in five years of going to Disneyland we have never forgotten to take with us. I did not. Neither did he. I tried to reassure myself that everything would be okay. The camera bag was covered up with our jackets and in FIVE YEARS of going to Disneyland, no one had ever messed with our stroller.

We got off the ride and the stroller was gone. After meeting with security and looking everywhere, they finally located our stroller in the restrooms by the New Orleans train station. Our cameras were gone. The souveniers we had just bought were gone. Even our soft sided cooler with water and our bag of snacks were gone! Our jackets and clothing were all that were left. They even took Hunter's pirate hook that Paul bought for him for $3 at Disneyland (which means that it would have cost about 75 cents in real life) and Dakota's $6 Nightmare Before Christmas back scratcher (approximately $1.75 in real life). Those weren't even in bags, they actually had to take them out of the seat of the stroller and put them in the bags! A few minutes later a security guard recovered our food and cooler at the restaurant around the corner.

We filed claims with lost and found and a police report. We learned that we were the third reported victims that evening, and another report was coming in as we were with the detective. Apparently a group of crapheads (we've called them much worse, but I'm trying to keep the blog family friendly) were going around the park and grabbing strollers, rolling them into a restroom and taking as much as they could. Of course, the ONE time I forgot the cameras in FIVE YEARS of going to Disneyland!

Two people were detained and there car was searched, but they were never able to turn up our cameras. They had the video and picture from the whole vacation as well as from when Dakota won the student of the quarter award at school. Fortunately, we had purchased annual passes, so we decided to stay an extra day to find out if our cameras turned up and to recreate some of our memories (we ran to Target and got a new camera). Unfortunately, we couldn't recreate when both Dakota and Hunter were picked to do the Jedi Training Academy and battled Darth Vader, or our trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific, but we did do lunch at Ariel's Grotto and got to meet 5 princesses and the boys learned how to bow and do a dance (it was really fun, even with boys).

We decided that we would purchase a CD of all of our Photo Pass pictures that they took so we could have some pictures of nine days at Disneyland. Paul explained to the clerk what had happened and wanted to know if we could get some photos replaced that we had purchased with vouchers, and were stolen with our other things. She made a phone call and Disney was kind enough to comp us the photo CD (which cost $60).

So, we did have a great vacation until our stuff was stolen. The lesson here is: don't forget to bring the camera on the ride. You can bet we won't forget again!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Best Friends

I've been slacking in the blogging department recently, several visits from out-of-town family, work obligations and starting a new class (2nd to the last one!) have kept me busy.

Tonight Hunter came into the family room and out of the blue said "Kota is my best friend". Kota is of course Dakota. It was so sweet I almost cried. He really did this picture justice! They fight a lot, as most siblings do, and have been extra grouchy as of late, but they really do love each other. Dakota also likes to read to Hunter and tonight he willing gave up his seat at the dinner table to prevent a tantrum from Hunter. Not that he would have ended up banished to another room or something. Hunter has just decided that Dakota's spot is the best spot at our table. They are great kids!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ordinary Girl

I just finished my last assignment for my Research Design class, so I finally have some time to blog! I'm so relieved. It was a tough class and I only have two more to go.
A couple of weeks ago, on the week-end, Paul and I were awakened by Dakota singing very loudly. He loves to listen to his MP3 player and sing along to the songs. Only on this morning he wasn't just singing, he was serenading the dogs. He ran through a couple of Abba tunes and then I heard him say "Here's one you'll really like, Princess. It's about a girl like you", and he began singing Ordinary Girl by Greenday to her. It was just too cute!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We Rock!

I think Paul has been secretly wanting to get Guitar Hero for himself, but won't admit it. He tried to convince Dakota to buy it with his Christmas money a couple of days after Christmas, but Dakota had never played it and wouldn't do it. Then we went to Amie and Bryan's for Steve's birthday. They got Guitar Hero for Christmas and our kids got a taste of the game and loved it.
Fast forward to today. Paul cashed in some credit card points and earned a Best Buy gift card, so today while I was making dinner he slipped out to Best Buy without the kids noticing. He came back with Guitar Hero World Tour, the full band edition! Dakota was on the couch playing Hunter's Leapster. Paul brought it in and sat it on the floor about 10 feet away from Dakota. He didn't even look up. It sat there for a good 15 minutes before Dakota finally noticed it. He started screaming, he was soooo excited!
So tonight we have been honing our rock star skills. We started out with some Beastie Boys, No Sleep Til Brooklyn. It didn't go well. We were booed off the stage. That was followed by REM, The One I Love, we went a bit longer before we got booed off. It's really a blast! Dakota sang the Linkin' Park song from Transformers, then Hunter sang the same song. Dakota did One Way or Another, by Blondie. Of course now they don't want to go to bed! When we finally got through a song, the game puts the words "You Rock" on the screen. Paul turned to Hunter and said, "You Rock!", and Hunter said, "I Rock!". Too cute!
The last picture is the first song. Hunter contributed by biting his toenails instead of singing. Lovely, huh? He did get into it after he took care of the toenail. Apparently we need to trim his toenails more frequently! The boy has priorities.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christmas Day

Winners for the most annoying toy: The Arnesons (my sister's family). They were kind enough to seek ou the most annoying toy they could possibly find and bestow it upon our child.
It's called a Yakkity Yak voice recorder. Seems innocent enough, but it is incredibly LOUD. Here is how it works: the child presses a button, it beeps loudly, something like a smoke detector whose batteries are getting low, the child says something into it, the device plays it back either very slow or very fast. Playing it back fast sounds something like the dolphin chatter effect from Spongebob Squarepants. This wouldn't be so bad if kids weren't so enthralled with the toy. They play it back over and over and over and over...
"Why", you might ask, "would someone want to punish you with this device?" Apparently when Steve was a baby, we bought him, (with no malicious intent) a baby keychain that made noises. An innocent baby toy! Really, I don't think it's just punishment.
And how do you get back at parents who willingly purchase drums for their kids? I don't think we could get revenge if we tried!

We had a wonderful and busy Christmas! We started out opening presents at home. So far, our kids have been really good about not getting us up early on Christmas morning. In fact, last year my parents called and woke us up. They had been sitting in the driveway waiting for us to get up so they could come in! This year, the kids slept until probably 7:30 and we called my parents when they woke up!
As usual, Santa kind of over did it with our kids. But they're great kids and have been pretty good. They both got lightsabers. I know, we already had five lightsabers, but Hunter told Santa he needed another and of course Dakota got one, too! They got the XBox that Dakota has been asking for along with a nice selection of games.
Santa even brought the dogs blankets for their kennels, despite the fact that last time we got them blankets, Princess ate them. Literally consumed them. So far so good, though. She hasn't tried to eat this one! And really, why should Haley suffer because Princess is insane?
After Christmas morning here, we went to Grandma and Grandpa Phipps' for more presents and Christmas dinner. Yummy ham, funeral potatoes, rolls, all the fixins. It was nice to see everyone. Dakota and Hunter were thrilled to see their cousins. Aidan gave Dakota and Hunter a small Cookie Monster snow globe. It was so sweet! With all of our different schedules, it's hard for us to get together!
After my parents, we made a quick stop home to unload and then headed to Paul's cousin Tim's house. Fortunately both my parents and Tim live within a few miles of us, so we didn't do much traveling. Paul's Aunt Carol and Uncle Pat were there as well as his parents and Robert. We spent some time visiting with them. They had food, too, but by that time I was stuffed!
We had a really wonderful Christmas. I'm so glad that we are able to spend it with our families.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas Eve

For Christmas Eve this year we had the grandparents and Robert come over for dinner, gingerbread houses and some present opening. Paul and I decided that this year we would let the grandparents help with the gingerbread houses since we've done it so many times. It somehow ended up in "teams", Hunter with Grandma and Grandpa Lanphear and Dakota with Grandma and Grandpa Phipps. I'm not sure who "won", but Dakota did at one point say something like "hurry, we're winning". Who knew decorating gingerbread houses would turn into a race? The grandparents did a great job. Kudos to Grandma Lanphear who perservered even after Paul (aka Lenny) squeezed the frosting bag so hard that it burst open at the seams! She managed to fashion a frosting bag by snipping the corner off of the green frosting bag. It was quite impressive!
The gingerbread houses were followed with opening presents from the Lanphear side. The boys got new Transformers pj's, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, some Tupperware ball popper thingamajigs, clothes, all kinds of toys... It was a great evening. We are so glad that we were able to spend it with our parents.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Polar Express

Snow Angels

Hot cocoa.

Waiting to get on the train.

The drive up.

We decided to take the kids on the Polar Express this year. For those of you who don't know, the Grand Canyon Railroad turns into the Polar Express during the winter and takes kids and their families to the North Pole, picks-up Santa and heads back to the depot in Williams.
It was us, Grandma and Grandpa Phipps, Grandma Lanphear and Uncle Robert. We all piled into my parents Suburban (the only 4WD vehicle owned by any of us) and headed north. We made reservations months in advance, so you don't really know what the weather is going to be like. It may have been a blizzard (I say "may have been" because I'm not really sure, I haven't lived in the snow since 1986, but it sure seemed like a blizzard to me!). My dad was generous in offering to take their vehicle and he drove the whole way as well. Thank goodness, because it was a bit treacherous! (Thanks, Dad).
I think we were all probably a little bit underdressed. Afterall, it NEVER snows here, and in the past 22 years, this was the third time we've been to the snow, so of course we don't have all of the gear (even if I lived in the snow, I think I would forgo the moonboots!). Maybe we're wimps because we've lived here for so long, or maybe it was because we just don't have the right clothes, but it was C-O-L-D! It actually wasn't so bad, except when the wind was blowing, which was a good portion of the time since it was a blizzard!
After we made it up to Williams, the kids played in the snow in the parking lot of our motel. They had a blast throwing snowballs at Dad. We had dinner at Denny's then headed over to the train depot. It was snowing and the wind was blowing AND, to top it all off, I slipped and fell in the snow. We waited inside for a while, but then headed outside to catch the train. Did I mention it was cold? Fortunately, the train was nice and warm. Ironically enough, we were given instructions on how to open the windows. Like we were going to open the windows!
Each car has its own chef and elf who entertain and serve hot cocoa and cookies. Our chef was Grant and our elf was Kaitlyn. Grant had a microphone and led us in games and Christmas carols. And by games I mean an "elf wave". He made the elf run up and down the aisle and everyone was supposed to do the wave, like at a football game. It was great fun! There was also a reading of The Polar Express.
When we got to the North Pole, Santa came on board. He goes through the cars and hands out silver bells to the kids. (Some of the grown-ups, too! I got one!) It was really a great experience. The kids were so excited. On the way back to the Suburban, I slipped AGAIN! But so did my mom and dad, so I didn't feel quite so bad.
Overnight, there was something like 12" of snow that fell and a lot of people were snowed into the parking lot. Fortunately, we weren't. The kids played in the snow a little more, made some snow angels, and threw more snowballs. We took great care to make sure that after the kids played in the snow, they had dry clothes on for the ride home. While we were finishing loading up, Hunter decided to make his way out to the car on his own. He blazed a brand new trail in his nice, dry clothes through fresh snow that was thigh deep on him. So much for changing him into warm, dry clothes for the ride home! Fortunately, it wasn't snowing on the way home.
We had such a wonderful time and we are so glad that my parents, Paul's mom and Robert were able to share it with us. Unfortunately, Paul's dad couldn't get off of work. Hopefully, if we do it again, he can be there, too!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Paul's Birthday

On the Polar Express with Dakota
Us with Eli...probably mid 1990's.

Our wedding day, January 4, 1992. With Amie, maid of honor and Kevin, best man.

Us after Paul's high school graduation.

A birthday in high school.

With Tom.

One day old.
Paul's 36th birthday was on November 24. (I told you I was behind on my blogging!) We had a small get together for Paul and my dad, since their birthdays are only two days apart. Nothing fancy, just dinner, presents and cake. His mom put together a wonderful photo album for him. It is such a great gift! These are just a small sample of the photos. I plan to eventually scan all of them so they will be available to post for whatever whim I may have. He's been warned that any photo could show up in my blog! I have included a few pictures of Paul over the years here.
Hope you had a great birthday, hon! We love you!