Friday, January 30, 2009

The War on Education

Because I am a teacher and my children are obviously going to public school AND I want them to get a college education, it became necessary to attend a protest rally at the State Capitol in Phoenix last weekend.

I realize the economy is in the pooper, but the state wants to make major cuts (we're talking millions of dollars here!) on education throughout the state. I don't know what's going to happen to my job (you know the arts are always vulnerable) and all-day kindergarten might go "bye-bye", amongst other things. However, knowing that there are economical sacrifices to be made, I am tired of mismanagement of funds by both local, state, and federal government while in order to "save" money, they go after our children and our schools.

The picture above is the T-shirt I painted for Mikelle late late Saturday night in preparation for the rally. I was trying to watch Iron Man with Chris at the same time and water got spilled all over it, so the paint job kind of has an "airbrush" effect. Oh well. She was only going to wear it once anyway - unless there is another rally.

Christian's T-shirt was spared the water mess and here he is at the rally with his T:I don't want this entry to turn into some political tirade about how disgusted I am about how my state looks at education anyway. But to put it mildly, it sucks AND blows at the same time. So many clowns move here for the warm climate (which sucks too, by the way) and the trade off they get is a sucky and very selfish-minded educational system that is counter-productive and continues to shoot ourselves in the foot.

That said, I feel very fortunate about the education my children are receiving in the district in which we reside. For AZ being bottom of the nation's barrell in educational funding, they're receiving one of the best public educations possible. I feel very lucky in that regard. That is one "pro" to staying around here for a while before making our Wickenburg move. Our district is a good one. (No, I don't work for the same district. I won't go there! I'm keeping things as positive as I can!)

Also, at the rally, a camera guy asked me if I was a mom and a teacher (I answered "both"!) Turns out, he was representing our local PBS channel and I ended up on their "Horizon" news report about it two days later (hey, I like PBS, but let's face it: Maybe 10 people saw it!)

Here is the link to the webcast (below). Watch the whole segment if you're interested but Christian shows up around 4:09 of the segment (you can scoot it over to there) and then there's Mikelle and I. Gosh, I know I did my make-up, but you can't tell on TV. Bleh. A little bit of lipstick and less of a beachball face would have been nice.

But as usual, I digress. I'm glad for the Horizon segment gets into opinions and point of views that I didn't share on here in effort to keep things light and "fluffy". You can probably tell what side of the coin I'm on with the opinions on there.

Tuesday January 27th "Horizon"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Preparing for the Future

(You can click on the map if you want more detailed look at it. The dot just under I-10 is where Chris works. The star is where we "currently" live. The other two red dots will be explained below:)

As many of you know, I am not happy with the climate I live in. Even now, in the winter, it's not "wintery" enough, and when it is cold and rainy, it's maybe that way for a day or two (if that) and then the harsh sunlight returns along with yucky non-winter temperatures. It's just too warm. 70s in the winter? Yuck. Sure, if it's in the 70s in say, May or June, you won't hear a peep of complaint out of me! But in January? Double yuck.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want harsh Midwest winters. My ideal is a coastal cool wet climate like Oregon and Seattle.

Many look at me quizzically and cannot understand why I am such a vampire and resistant to warm temperatures and dry air. I guess since I've been in this climate since birth, I'm "overcooked". You can't keep a roast in the oven too long, I guess.

Well, at the same time, I cannot deny the answer to our prayers with Chris's job. It would be extremely selfish of me to demand that he quit and find something else in a more favorable climate. After layoffs and job BS happening over and over again from 2000 to 2004 (the kids' births practically bookending these horrible series of events. Fun times. Fun times.), his position and the work he does there is clearly what we had been waiting for during those tough years. Not only that, but he is very happy there, he is needed there and admired there. His superiors want to promote him again. Therefore, for me to complain and demand we move out of here - especially in this economy - would be asinine and practically criminal.

Chris notes my geographical misery and I thank my lucky stars I don't have a husband who says, "tough crap! Deal with it, woman!" lol

Our plan is to wait out the horrible housing situation (we are upside down in our house right now, so trying to sell it and move right now wouldn't do us much good) and then when we can make a profit on selling our Queen Creek house, we're going to move to Wickenburg, AZ. Wickenburg would also make Chris's commute to work only 45 miles each way. Right now, it's 90 miles each way. And the 45 miles he would drive is completely rural, which would make it seem even quicker (see map above).

Anyone familiar with the area might say, "Wickenburg? How does that help with the heat problem, Jill?" Yes, I see the logic. It's only 500 feet higher in elevation (Queen Creek is at 1400 feet Wickenburg at 2000), so its summer temps might be 2-3 degrees cooler. Maybe 5 degrees on a good day. Not good enough. But that's not what makes Wickenburg part of the solution. Well, it is a little bit. I'll take any repreive. Plus, it would cool down more at night due to being away from all the asphalt of the metro area. 

Wickenburg still has that quaint small-town feel that Queen Creek sold out on, despite the empty promises from the Queen Creek officials. Wickenburg may still see a little future encroachment of growth from the Big Box satantic Wal-Martlike nightmares that want to turn it into another freeway stop for entitled spoiled capitalist Americans that over-consume and think it's a "need", but it's doubtful due to Wickenburg's locale that isn't on any main drags/freeways that make it more susceptible to such nonsense. It's also more hilly and rocky (and surrounded by a lot of public land) that makes such invasions less likely. 

But I digress.

What I meant to say is Wickenburg is just down the road from Yarnell and Peeples Valley (about 30 miles from Wickenburg, but 4500 feet in elevation) and not too far from there, is Prescott (5300 feet). That makes it easier to eventually get a summer place just down the street and still live in Wickenburg as the "headquarters".

The problem with where we live now is you have to drive for a couple hours to find cooler relief in temperatures. However, from Wickenburg , a little more than a half hour and you're there. Just after the town of Congress is the steep mountain climb  (Yarnell Hill) to the cooler air and mountain scenery.

Sure, if Queen Creek kept its promises to grow more "unique" and not have cookie cutter explosive asphalt nightmares, it might have been tolerable to stay here for the quaint feel this town used to be, despite the heat. But since it's been obliterated in that regard and those asphalt nightmares just absorb MORE heat, there's not much to stick around here for anymore. I'm disgusted with what's come of QC and I'm ready to GO.

Sure, plenty of people in the Phoenix area have summer places in cooler locales, but it's more difficult and takes longer to get to them. If we live in Wickenburg and have a summer place (probably a small manufactured home) in say, Peeples Valley, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to spend a lot of time there even though we would live permanently down in Wickenburg. My only concern is the school system in Wickenburg. Mikelle and Christian are in excelling schools here in Queen Creek. I would hate to have to give that up.  Wickeburg schools aren't horrible, but they aren't Queen Creek's. 

However, due to the housing market, we won't be giving that up anytime soon. Therefore, the one piece of what makes Queen Creek good, is staying with us for awhile. Even though we have the hellish summers and Big Box nightmares along with it too.

Therefore, yesterday, we took a day trip to Wickenburg and Peeples Valley.

After driving around a little in Peeples Valley (which was in the 40s and 50s yesterday! See what I'm talking about? lol), we stopped at the little elementary school and let the kids play on the playground (they were getting more and more aggravated by all the driving around and not getting to stretch their legs! lol)

The scenery doesn't look as nice in the photos, but trust me, it's a nice mountain area. There is a nice comforting difference in that area as opposed to the brown warm desert below. I really liked the layout of Peeples Valley. While Prescott (another 1000 feet upward and a little further north) would be my first choice of summer locales, it's a more expensive. Therefore, PV looks to be hitting the jackpot for a future summer shack to escape from our future Wickenburg abode.

Playground at Elementary School in Yarnell/Peeples Valley Area
Then, as we drove around a little subdivision to just get a feel for the land prices for the future (since Peeples Valley would be a summer place locale), we saw a deer. It was pretty white-tailed doe. I got a couple of pictures, but if I posted them, you'd look at them like trying to find Waldo, and you would just see bushes, trees and brush and go, "what am I supposed to be looking at?" The deer is there, but like I said, it would be about as effective as looking through a Where's Waldo book. Of course the deer wouldn't cooperate and let me (or my zoom lens) get any closer.The pictures haven't been tweaked yet for lighting and stuff. I wanted to get these posted quickly in essence of time. There's something important going on today that I will update later with another blog entry and I'm already running behind.

And just a little diddy I woke up to this morning. I was annoyed of how LOUD the kids were. Sure, some noise to be expected, but you would have thought they were yelling across a land mass the size of Rhode Island at each other to communicate. It was ridiculous. Since I'm such the chipper morning person, I went in there ready to pounce and this is what I found (and the camera was sitting on the table ready for me to grab...) I could try to explain what they were doing, but there is really no point. Come up with your own creative explanations. I knew if I took a picture and looked at it later when I wasn't as grumpy, I would appreciate it more. lol

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Art Gallery January 2009!!!

It is that time again! It's time to show off some work from my students! In the past couple of months, my 2nd-4th graders started a 'Watercolor Discovery' (series of projects) or PROJECT (singular) if I run out of watercolor paint and watercolor paper and thus have no way to order more supplies.

Before we began Watercolor, my 2nd-4th graders did a mosaic project that involved using the technique with paper scraps. I have a kiln at the school to fire clay and pottery, but not enough clay to start another clay series. My older kids (junior high) are asking for clay projects and I keep putting them off because of lack of clay. I'm also waiting for some glazes that were supposedly "ordered". but don't get me started on that one. Anyway....back to
happy. Back to HAPPY!

Here is a couple of snapshots of the mosaics that were done when we returned from Christmas Break. These are for grades 2nd-4th. I have some others on display at the district office.

This one contains a rose made by a student named "Rose".

And as I mentioned earlier, here is the same age group working on Part I of their Watercolor Discovery. Part II comes next week when we add ink pen black outlines to portions of their masterpieces.

These pictures are from my Wednesday (1/21) 4th grade group:

Currently, my 5th-8th graders are working on a One Point Perspective project involving their own "hallway" design. I hope to have some of those gems uploaded on here in a couple of weeks when the projects materialize from preliminary light pencil sketches and "trial and error" frustrations (that we are currently dealing with) with the ruler into some fun creative hallway designs.

Speaking of hallways, the arduous campus project of murals continues. My 5th through 8th graders assist on some of the wall drawings and some blocks of color and then I polish it up. These are part of the Character Counts theme. Each trait is assigned a color (the 6 traits are: Responsibility, Fairness, Trustworthiness, Caring, Citizenship, and Respect) are the "pillars" of character and for the younger grades, those pillars are also assigned an animal. Each hallway is assigned a character trait. For the pillar, I took the artistic license to also make the pillar one of the three main Greek "orders" (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). So far, the two hallways that are now completed are both Doric pillars, but the next one is an Ionic one and the one that follows that one is going to be a Corinthian pillar.

Here is the first one that got completed. Our "Caring" hallway. If you click on the image and zoom in, you can read the meaning behind the animal name, symbol and description of the pillar.

The second one to get finished is our Responsibility Hallway. I had one ofmy 7th grade students sketch the pillar and some others did some of the base colors on the elephant, sign and pillar, and then I polished it afterwards. My 7th grader that sketched the pillar was upset that it came out slightly uneven, but I actually preferred that, because it is still done well and it's slight imperfection is indicitive of student involvement. This school, after all, is for the kids! (though of course our lovely officials and politicians that make "make or break" decisions are often not in the best interest of the kids). I actually went in on New Year's Eve to have this Reponsibility one FINISHED finally so when we returned from the holidays, we can start fresh with a new hallway!

As I finish this entry, I have prayers in my heart (some outloud) that the 200 million proposed educational budget cuts will not come to pass to make Arizona, an already crippled state when it comes to where we are on educating our next generation, even further buried in an educational pit of despair. I know AZ isn't the only state in this lovely economy to be dealing with such potential fates on the horizon, but if this state is anything like it's been so far, counter-productiove actions by our officials (local and on the state level) will just send our education into further oblivion. I sincerely hope that isn't the case. Please continue to pray with me for the positive fate of our neighborhood's, state's and national education to prevail positively despite this tough time in our nation.

End of soapbox.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Miracles DO Happen!

Whether it's historical events, or historical events based on religious beliefs, we can all come up with some "miracles" that have happened. But the last couple of days is proof that miracles still do happen, although I'm a little weirded out.


1. The miracle Hudson River landing of US Air Flight 1549 on Thursday. A miraculous event in of itself. So many factors pointed to disaster that made this miracle a rare possibility, if not impossible! It's clear that not only was an amazing pilot at the controls, but another one that was truly in charge, even though sometimes we forget about Him as we go about our day in such a crazy, crowded and distracting world. :-)

2. The Arizona Cardinals making it to the Super Bowl. Seriously?! If anyone a couple of weeks ago, told me this was going to happen, I would have laughed in their face and said, "good one!".

3. It's pretty miraculous in of itself that I even mention the Cardinals (or football in general) on my blog. Euw. Football. If it was wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow, I would totally be okay with it. Therefore, it's safe to say that I'm not a "bandwagon" Cardinals fan by any stretch of the imagination. But I am noticing the miraculous event regarding the Cardinals and Flight 1549. As a result, Twilight Zone music is running through my head.

4. And while this isn't a "miracle" in the sense that the first two are, these miraculous events have occurred just days before we are going to inaugurate our first black President. I'm not going to get into any political tirades on here, because my friends and family come from a wide spectrum of political ideals and beliefs. But no matter where you stand politically, you have to admit this is pretty amazing. Especially when only 50 years ago, we still had segregated schools and horrible racism (moreso in the South, but it existed everywhere, and unfortunately still does).

The Civil Rights Act was signed just in 1964 - 43 years ago. And here we are inaugerating our first black President. (but I won't hide one thing. I did vote for him. I knew I was going to pretty early on in the election process. I had some leaning towards John Edwards too, but we know what happened there! lol But that's the only thing I'm going to say about votes and certain candidates. My blog is to be fun, not create unnecessary squabbling).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stop that Noise! It's "Ignoring"!

My last post showcased my baby girl, so now for....The Boy! Christian is my baby, my little butt, my crazy man, my tornado, my drama king (actually, Mr. Dramatic is a good term), my Cuddle Bear, and from this picture, it's hard to see what he's capable of. But that's just it. Behind those eyes isn't just the mischief and tenacious determination, but a sweet, loving, funny kid and all those other things along with it.

Due to time, allow me to just give an example of an e-mail exchange between myself and Danielle, the kids' babysitter, just this morning (less than an hour ago, as a matter of fact). I dropped the kids off at 6:20am. Mikelle goes to school with Danielle's son who is the same age as her (last year they were even in the same class, which was nice!) and Christian stays there. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, he goes to Pre-school for 1/2 a day (and he loves it, by the way. He's really making progress!)

The e-mail I received from Danielle: I figured out what you did to your boy to "t" him off.... You wouldn't let him bring is backpack.... He was naughty!!! HE full fledged punched Noah this morning..

That didn't surprise me, since this morning, Christian was not happy with me and the reality of the day of the week and the fact that his seatbelt was cold, among other things. I replied back:

"We got into a battle about it not being a school day. He said it was Monday and I said it was Friday. He didn’t like that. I don’t know if Peyton told you (since she’s so chipper in the morning) but I said, “Tell your Mom Christian is having a PMS attack this morning.” He was also mad at me because I wouldn’t let him bring his Leapster to your house. Actually, for him freaking out this morning, he's had a good week so I figure we were due for a fit like this. But he did get into trouble (3 time outs, 2 sends to his room, and one butt swat) yesterday afternoon for various hits on Mikelle and the dog. I’m sorry he did that to Noah. I’m sure you had him in time-out. Do it again for longer if you need to. Hopefully he’ll get the message. But he should take a good nap since I think he also got up on the wrong side of the bed.

(I’m going to get yelled at in a minute) I’m blasting Doors music in here and I know Michelle, the Special Ed teacher next door is going to say something when the bell rings and kids come in! lol I don’t have kids on Fridays until 8:35 and there’s nothing like loud freaky dark gritty Doors music at 7:30am on a Friday! Hey, it beats sacking out on her couch like I did yesterday morning."

And a few minutes later, her reply to me:

He did go to timeout and then he was fine.. He is playing like normal now. Chance goes to school in about 30 mins so the house will calm down and he will be fine.... Lane was playing with the baby this morning and making blubber noises and Christian was like STOP IT, STOP IT and I said "Stop what? " He said "Lane that noise, its ignoring" I found that ironic since he is the one always making those kind of noises.. he got over it when Lane stopped.

So just that snippet today should pretty much sum up life in the crazy Henrichsen Habitat (and the Danielle's House habitat. Hey, it "takes a village", remember? lol)

Christian is growing up too fast (the pictures below are going in age decending order, unlike Mikelle's that went the other way. Hey, I'm at work and shouldn't be "blogging" anyway! lol But it's the Fri before a 3 day weekend! lol), and even though he has days like this, I hope that through me, his Dad, gems like Danielle, teachers, etc, that he's being led in the right direction!
He's certainly not wasting time growing in the right direction!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Please Slow Down!

...growing up, that is. I took this picture of Mikelle today (as you can see, she's alive and well after the curio cabinet incident) just before the battery in the camera went kaput (or there would have been 400 of the same photo to choose from). She was looking at a leak in a sprinkler instead of at me (because the leak was more interesting than mom). If I had known the camera only had the juice to take one picture, I probably would have waited until i could re-charge it. But she is growing up way too fast. She's already nearly 8 1/2, and of course I want to capture my babies as much as possible. They are no strangers to cameras in their faces.

She doesn't know it, but her Daddy is going to surprise her this Friday by taking her to see the Lion King.
Chris and I saw it a week ago and we loved it. Chris and Mikelle have traditional "date months" with each other, with one choosing what to do on their date each month. He's going to kick off January by surprising her with the show, and then she can choose February's date.

I just had a baby girl. Where did this beautiful older KID come from?

In late 1999, Chris and I decided it was time to start our family. Mikelle joined our family the following August 2000. She went from baby to toddler in a flash. And now her childhood years feel like they're on fast forward as well. At least we have photos to capture it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Using Humor to Get Through

I know I've been needing to update this week, but it hasn't been the best of weeks. Not that I expect it to be the best of weeks or am going to whine and complain that everything isn't kosher or perfect (that would just be "life denial" lol), but it has been one of those more difficult ones.

First of all, the transition from the holidays back to work was really okay. The trepidation I have with work issues is more of a district-level concern of the district, budget woes, blah blah blah and some of the basic pain-in-the-butt relationships between teachers and other teachers and how people (in general) can get. As an Art teacher, it's more difficult to be seen and regarded as a "real" teacher through the eyes of other teachers. And while in good relationships, that can be a fun "joking around" thing, in other situations, it can get frustrating and rather depressing. But like I said, work this week isn't the real reason for this entry's title.

But some end of the week work challenges haven't helped either.

That said, motherhood and wifehood (I know that's not a word) has been my challenge this week. Of course Motherhood is a challenge within itself, I get that. Oh, do I EVER get that. And anyone that has met Christian gets that. lol However, do you just feel sometimes that fate or what-have-you SAVES things to happen all at once? Well, that's kind of the way things have been this week.

And just as a disclaimer. I'm not "complaining" about my children per se. They are my babies and I love them and I would have them all over again. I can't imagine life without them. It's just been "one of those weeks". So as usual, I'll add some more humor to it to hopefully make the point that "when it rains it pours".

This week (in no particular order):

1. On our first visit to the Queen Creek library (opened a few weeks before Christmas), Christian set off the alarm when opening an emergency exit door. The place was not evacuated, thank heavens, but because it never happened before, no one had a key or code to turn it off. If we left as soon as we found the book Mikelle neeeded for her report, it never would have happened. But I was stupid enough to go over to find teaching/artsy/ideas/fun art stuff for me to check out for reference/use in my job. Stupid me for trying to make the most of what should have been a simple library visit with 2 kids.

2. That same afternoon, I left my planner with debit card, drivers license, a couple bucks, everything else of importance, at the Florence Anthem Safeway (stupid me for getting milk because it was on sale for $1.58/gallon. I should have just kept driving!), and didn't discover it until a couple of hours later. Thankfully, they had it and everything was in there. But I couldn't pick it up until the next morning (it's 20 miles away, but right on my way to and from work). When I discovered that my planner was missing, unfortunately, I couldn't call right away to ask if they had it though, because I realized I left my cell phone on my desk at work. Petty things, but when they add up, it gets to a "pull your hair out" situation.

3. Mikelle and Christian were playing with a glittery string (that they jacked from my "off limits" scrapbook supplies in the den), tied it to the doorknob of my locked curio cabinet and tied the other half to a chair. Mikelle didn't realize that they way she pulled the chair would bring down the whole curio cabinet, until well, it brought down the whole curio cabinet. Sentimental items inside the cabinet came crashing down with it. Broken glass, various broken Precious Moments figurines that are symbolic and representative to important moments and events in our lives, breakable beautiful gift items, etc were broken. Some "survived". Some can be glued and "recover". Some are gone forever and some have to be replaced, as well as the glass shelves in the curio cabinet and the glass sides of the cabinet.

The good thing about this is none of the kids were hurt from the falling cabinet or broken glass. The other good thing is besides the stuff that broke that isn't replaceable, I think we'll only have to replace one Precious Moments figurine (the one we used for our wedding cake topper) and the rest can be glued.

The other good thing is when this happened, I miraculously remained calm and didn't implode. Maybe because it was such a huge disastrous thing, I knew the best thing to do was just "roll with it" and logically be calm, clean stuff up, and move from there.

4. After item#3, I shouldn't have to go on. But let me add about our Dachshund got pretty messed up this week. It started with him running out the front door like he always does, because that's the kind of dork he is. But this time, the next door neighbor's dog ran outside without permission as well. So an annoying dog situation erupted, right? More than annoying. Their dog wailed onto Simon and was literally was trying to kill him. The owner was just as surprised as I was. Their dog never acted like that before and these are great neighbors that have lived in their house almost as long as we have. They've had their dog for a long time as nothing like this had ever happened. So it fits that it happened this week.

The situation occurred because both dogs are idiots and kids opened the front door unnecessarily and let the dogs out. Christian opened our front door when he didn't need to and Simon got out. One of next door's kids opened their front door when they didn't need to, and their large dog got out. Next thing I know, Mikelle is running inside freaking out. It really scared her.

Chris was home (he's off on Mondays) and rushed outside to see the mom/owner of next door's dog beating on her dog to let our dog go. Chris scooped up Simon and brought him in. He had a few teeth/puncture wounds on his back and scratches on his tummy. The neighbors' feel really bad about what happened. I'm not blaming them per se. It's so obvious how it happened. Our neighbor mom was out in the carport trying to get some work done (another mom just trying to be a mom and accomplish tasks that need to be done) and her kids were inside messing with the dog and therefore, opened the door and he got out. Just like we were inside, but Christian found the need to mess with our front door because he's fascinated with the way the lock works. And from a subsequent conversation I had with our neighbor mom, they feel just as bad about what happened.

Simon is fine. He was all whimpery and stiff the next morning (as such injuries are really "sore in the morning" after), but by Wednesday, he was fine and his puncture wounds and scratches are healing fine.

However, we haven't had a problem with him running out the front door since. Hmmmm.....interesting. Hey, I'm not condoning the attack, but it might have been a blessing in disguise.

5. There's more, but these comics kind of fill in the holes that won't be included in "the list".

And I'm sorry if this next one offends anyone, but it pretty much sums it up and well, what can I say? It's the kind of humor that right up my alley. I know...I know.... :sigh:

Please let me end this entry by saying that I recognize and cherish the blessings in my life. Not just my family, but in a world where things are crumbling down all around us, we are blessed to have our jobs, health, home and each other. Maybe I should make a 12x12 layout of this saying and hang it up! No, not the "Fukitol" one but THIS one:

We May Not Have it All Together, but Together We Have it All

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year 2009 *Reflections*

Seriously, 2009? I know. I can hardly believe it myself. I don't think this picture was made for the 2008 to 2009 hand-off, because if I was the 2009 baby in the picture, I would tell the old 2008 geezer to keep it! haha

But seriously, I know in a general global and economical sense, things are certainly not up to speed, but in reflecting in the last 9 years since the beginning of this decade, our little world at the Henrichsen Habitat has a lot of blessings and things to be grateful for! Sure, our home value has declined so bad we don't know WHEN we would ever be able to sell it and upgrade later, but we like our house and while on the small side now, we are happy to have it and continue to beautify and make small improvements to our abode. But I digress.

We spent New Year's Eve at a co-workers house (that I carpool with, so she is in the same neighborhood) and played games and let the kids run wild. We rung in New Years with a combination of Champagne for some of the adults and Sparking Apple Cider for others (Chris and I included). It confused Mikelle for a moment when I said she could have a sip from my Champagne glass! I told her it was Sparkling Apple Cider, which is was of course, but she was confused. Hey, one good thing about being non-drinkers, is you can let your kids drink out of your glasses and it's all good! Okay, maybe not too much of my Diet Pepsi (that Christian always seems to sneak as fast as Dash on The Incredibles), but you get my meaning.

So much has changed in the last 9 years. For example, a decade ago, we didn't have any kids yet and I wasn't even preggers. In fact, I wouldn't be pregnant until the end of 1999 and even though we spent New Years Eve1999 going into 2000 at a friend's house watching movies, I was SICK.AS.A.DOG. It was the Y2K New Year's Eve and I was so sick, a part of me wished the earth would just blow up at midnight and end the misery. If it did, I seriously wouldn't have cared. If that doesn't describe how sick I felt, this will, so it's clear it's not just my dramatic self. I was so sick as a matter of fact (howwww sick were you?!), that on January 2nd, I was put in the hospital and there for a week! it was initially supposed to be a 24 hour stage to get re-hydrated, but I was worse off then they thought.

But this is what resulted that following August:

But before the beautiful end result (well, she had to be cleaned up first, THEN she was beautiful) I ended up being on medical leave until the end of February 2000. Sure, that sounds bad, but Mikelle's barfing pregnancy was nothing compared to her brother's. The "being sick phase" of Christian's pregnancy was just 1/3 of that Armageddon. In fact, if I had an angel come manifest to me RIGHT NOW that a third pregnancy would be more like Mikelle's and not Christian's, I'd get pregnant again right now. Seriously.

New Year's Eve 2003 going into 2004 I was further along in pregnancy than I was with Mikelle's, and past the nausea phase, but I was mental mess. I graduated from college about 2 weeks earlier, but it did nothing for the state of darkness I was in. In fact, it was so bad, I won't even go there, and I am so glad it is more and more in the past of each given day.

Christian thankfully made his appearance the following St. Patrick's Day. All that hair, I believe, was a bonus from God since cooking him was so awful:

And I don't care how bad this sounds, but when he's a little older and gets grounded for something, I'm automatically adding an extra day on the sentence JUST for the pregnancy. Seriously.

But would I do it again? Of course. I need my little bugger. He is quite the little gadget-genuis, compulsive-smarty-pants-goofball, he makes me nuts and I couldn't imagine life without him!

I just wish those little babies of mine didn't grow so fast. However, I am embracing their fun stages and I am grateful for the close relationship they share. In fact, Monday night, Mikelle stayed over at the Crosby's with her friend Katie (her parents being our good friend's Bruce and Liz) and the next morning, Christian was really upset that Mikelle wasn't around.

Anyway, the last 9 years have also meant our careers have gotten off the ground. Chris's took longer than we EVER would have anticipated, but looking back, we are so grateful for the blessings that finally came after enduring and waiting. However, sometimes, we didn't do such a good job at enduring. I'll be the first to admit that.

It's time to end these reflections and enjoy a night out with my husband seeing the Lion King at Gammage at ASU. We've been looking forward to this, but it also means I have to go back to work on Monday! Wahhhh! Lol (really, I'll be fine....)

Happy New Year all!

Remember, endure to the end. I know it may seem that whomever said, "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle" never heard of a nervous breakdown, but one of my favorite all time quotes is from Mother Theresa. I need to make a 12x12 layout of it and hang it on the wall:

I know God doesn't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much.