Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Mom

How about a big happy birthday shout-out to my mom? Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so much!

I was thinking about her on the drive in to work today, looking forward to our planned lunch together. She's amazing, no doubt about it. She's the reason I stay sane and have been able to keep up my part-time career all these years. She's a great listener and a great sounding board for ideas and concerns. She loves a good fillet Mignon and has taught my kids that there's really nothing else quite as delicious. She loves shoes, maybe even more than me. She's my cooking consultant, my sewing mentor, the hardest worker, my fellow party-planner in crime, and the most devoted mother I know. On the days I work, she thinks ahead about what she could do to help make our night run more smoothly upon my return - little things like giving the two youngers a quick bath before we pick them up, or sending home some dinner. Things that amount to a whole heck of a lot after a long day away. Things I wish I was there doing, but so appreciate the surrogate mom that she is when I'm not. It's always been, and probably always will be, a balancing act trying to manage work and all the things that mom-hood entails. Mostly, I think we do a pretty decent job at our house keeping the scales in check and running a smooth house with happy occupants who are leading productive lives. No doubt, we have our days, just like everyone. We're lucky that Ryan has a lot of flexibility as his own boss and is such an active player on our team and that my mom is so great to help out. Truly, my mom is charity personified and I have been blessed all my life to not only learn from her example, but to also reap the benefits of her unending love.

My kids are blessed beyond measure to have her in their lives, too. I don't think they realize how good they have it living just down the street. Barrett sits by my mom every single Sunday in church (in the row right behind us) and doesn't know anything different. Afton writes her first draft of her weekly paragraph every week with grandma's brainstorming help. Rowan gets so much love from Grandma Cin and a much needed listening ear. And Buddy Boy is her little sidekick. They have a great relationship for sure since they have a handful of hours together alone every week.

Lately, when Easton and I are heading out for errands, he quizzes me about the exact stops we'll be making in our route, as if trying to decide whether it's worth his while to tag along or not (as if he has a choice). He's wising up and realizing that mom's errand list pretty much stinks these days (one more run to Imperial Tile, hunting valley-wide for replacement granite, heading to Lowes - yet again, etc.) Just a couple more weeks, Buddy. We're getting so close and it's looking o-so-fabulous-o! So lately, when the run down of the planned stops doesn't quite pass muster in his 5-year old world, Buddy pleads, "Can't you just call Grandma? I don't want to go shopping." He knows he just might have an out.

So thanks, Mom, for being there for me and all of us and loving us like you do. Happy Birthday! I hope 2011 is fantastic for you.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This is Us: The Browns at Disneyland

Yes, we love the thrill rides, and yes, we were too cheap to buy the $25 picture from the park, so we just took a picture of the picture. One of many. We rode Space Mountain seven times. It was Easton's favorite!

This was our very last ride of the three day excursion at Disney - The Grizzly Water ride at California Adventure. We saved it for the very end in case we got wet, and yes indeed-e-o...we did. Easton and Ryan took the hardest hit as the geyser exploded right as they were passing by. Seriously, we cracked up so hard on this ride. What a great way to end our trip.

What great memories!

Easton waiting in line for the Buzz Lightyear Ride

Ryan & Barrett on the Matterhorn (day 3). We loved this one too. It was the very first ride we did on the first day, so it set the tone for all the fun.

Having too much fun on the swings at California Adventure

Toy Story Mania - really a fun, interactive ride (it was a shooting game), but the wait was too long! It was our only long wait of the trip, and not sure it was worth it. But since this ride was new, we didn't know what to expect...and didn't think we'd be waiting that long! Yes, we were spoiled with all the other short waits I know...

We loved loved loved California Screamin'! It's the fastest and most intense ride in both parks.

Afty & Row on the Matterhorn

Since Easy E was too short for Screamin', dad took him to buy a souvenir while the girls rode the second day. He's been lugging Mickey around ever since.

We ran into Jessie from Toy Story at Disneyland and Rowan was so excited for a quick photo op. I didn't want to wait in line behind a bazillion other little girls for a picture with Cinderella, but we saw the glass slipper princess too.

Easton had a blast exploring the Tarzan treehouse just outside of the Indiana Jones ride. Indy was the only other ride he was too short for, but it worked out great for him. He climbed and played on Tarzan the whole time that Ryan and the girls were on the ride.

My favorite ride - the Tower of Terror at California Adventure. We had fast passes for this one on Monday night at 8:15, and it was amazing and scary all over again. It had been 3 1/2 years since the last time, and I had sort of forgotten how cool a ride it is. We did it again the next day too.

Snack break - pretzels with cheese please!

Really, we just had "too much fun."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We're Back!

Happy St. Patty's Day! We're back from the land of Disney where every single other spring breaking family on the planet must have been. Crazy herds of people everywhere. Really, how many people can they let in that place? But we worked it like nobodies business and seriously did so much in our three days there. Really, truly - as much as I have completely loved both our family trips to Disneyland, I am never ever going to go there without someone in a wheelchair, unless we take all the kids out of school in the complete off-season (if there is such a thing as an off-season). Or at least never ever at Spring Break without some one's broken limb. It would so not be worth it to wait in all those crazy long lines.

Thanks again to Afty Cakes for taking one for the team. It was way busier than the last time we went in 2007 for Fall Break, so by 2:00 or so in the afternoon, even the wheelchair accessible lines were getting long. Clearly, not as long as the normal lines, but we were still always waiting. Thankfully, we tackled so much in the mornings when we could just ride and ride and ride over and over with little to no wait.

My very favorite thing about the whole trip was seeing Easton's pure joy on the rides. I'm not sure there is anything better than watching your 5-year old's face light up in raw excitement as he swirls and dips and flies on the coasters, coupled with his contagious laughter and giant big blue eyes. I was grinning ear to ear just watching him. He is a little thrill-seeker like the rest of the Brown family (thankfully, we have no riding wimps in our crew), so the faster the better for him. He wasn't afraid of anything, nor was Rowan. And there was only ride he couldn't do at Disneyland (Indiana Jones) and one ride at California Adventure (Screamin'). Just a few inches shy of the mark. Seriously, it was such a great time. I have a bunch of pics to post after I get them downloaded from my iPhone.

We drove home yesterday after spending about six hours in the park for our final day. We wanted to get home by midnight, so we left the park around 3:00 or so to head back to the hotel, clean up a bit, and pick up the car. After some brutal LA rush hour traffic, a stop at In-and-Out and a couple potty breaks, our home greeted us warmly around 11:30 last night - still standing and smelling a bit like new drywall and tile cement. We joked with the kids as we tucked them in for prayers that we could still be Disneyland (it stayed open until midnight). Even though the kiddos all expressed their gratitude many times on the trip for us taking them there, it was really extra nice to hear each of them independently express their gratitude late last night in their personal prayers. They were so dang sweet.

While we were exploring Disney, the skillful worker bees were busy transforming our master bath into what we hope will be a spectacular new room. A huge thanks to J.R. for being our GC on this job - we are really happy with how it's all coming together. We're closing in on the third week of bathroom construction, but I still think it will be a couple more before it's 100%. But it's looking good - really good. The granite guy is cutting our sink and faucet holes today. Maybe installing tomorrow? Albert, the drywall guy, was back this morning before I left for work finishing the final sanding. Should be a nice, white film over everything by the end of the day :) And then Jose, the tile guy, should be back to finish the last piece in the shower and start the bathroom floor. We're doing a Versailles pattern on the floor - can't wait to see it! He laid the floor liner last night. Tomorrow, the glass guy will be over to measure for the shower glass and I still need to finalize my paint colors...

Getting closer.

Now it's back to work and softball and all the usual with the fam. The kids have a couple more days of spring break, but they're spending today and tomorrow at my mom's since I'm working. Hopefully they'll get in some good play time with friends and maybe a little relaxation after walking a marathon the past few days!

Can't wait to share our pics from the trip. I hope to get them downloaded soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Disney bound...

We're super excited. On our way to visit the happiest place on earth! Thanks, Afton. You're our golden ticket!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Recap

Just to recap the week - quickly:

1) Afton played in her last basketball game a week ago yesterday. She should have had her season closer yesterday afternoon, but thanks to the broken foot, she was on the DL. We sure had fun watching her play this season, though. She brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the court. And it was kinda cool being back in the Kino Junior High Gymnasium after all these years. I spent many, many hours inside that gym playing both volleyball and basketball for the Kolts in the mid-80's. Good times. Good memories.

And here's our little jockette sporting the cast and crutches. She's ready for bed in this pic, staying up a little too late working her word genius skills on a crossword puzzle with Barrett (an ELP assignment, not for fun.)

2) Let the remodeling begin. The demo crew came out on Monday and removed our shower and tub from the master bath. Then on Thursday, the framer came and knocked out our bathroom linen closet to make room for the new foot longer 6' jetted tub and 2' longer shower. Hooray! We are super excited to get a new bathroom. After 5 trips to Imperial Tile, I think I finally have all the shower, floor, bath and trim tile procured. The granite is purchased. The cabinets are on order and should be here in a couple of days. After significant hunting, I finally found the 24 x 36 vertical opening window we needed since we are taking the existing one out to make room for the bigger shower. All the faucets and valves and drains are finally here. Who knew that you had to order the faucet handles separate from the faucet itself? What a racket. But thanks to,, Lowes, Home Depot, and Farnsworth Wholesale Plumbing - I think we are finally set. The guys are hopefully coming back either tomorrow or Tuesday to finish the framing and do the plumbing and get ready for the tile guy mid week. Can't wait. It's going to be awesome!!!

3) Rowan lost her second tooth (finally). This time it was her front tooth, so she's sporting the ever-so-fashionable first grade look. And she loves it. The tooth fairy brought her two bucks - in quarters. Just like she wanted.

4) No pics for this, but we did lots of softball practicing this week. Ryan and I helped coach Rowan's team practices this week (her head coach was out of town and Ryan is the assistant). Afton squeezed one in before the break, and Barrett practiced three times. They are all doing so great - can't wait for the games to begin.

5) I realize that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but to me, this is true beauty.

This is our two-car garage that we finally cleaned up and fully purged yesterday after 3 months of full on garage chaos. I should have taken a pic of the one car garage too - it is equally spectacularly clean. We started right after we got home from Rowan's practice, then Ryan had to leave to work security detail at Lehi Days. I was on a roll so I finished it and was oh so proud. We've been parking the suburban in the driveway since early December when we moved a bunch of stuff out of the one car garage to make room for Afton's birthday party and the gingerbread throw down. And life has just been so busy that we haven't made the time to do the full clean up ever since. We decided that before we moved anything back to the one car, we'd purge and simplify. And it just felt so overwhelming that we kept letting other projects take priority. It was getting insane, though, and I am just so thrilled that it's finally clean. I took a suburban full of stuff to DI, threw about 3 big black garbage bags of stuff out, and voila! We're parkin' in again, baby.

Other than that and all the normal life stuff going on with raising four kids who study hard and play instruments and sports like all good kids do, and work work work work, and church stuff and trying to feel better after two weeks of being super sick and a great kidney transplant surgery for Bob & Lacey (both are doing great) and the school carnival Friday night and spending time with the family and squeezing in a great date last night to Mi Amigos and a movie (Unknown - which was super suspenseful by the way) and subbing primary in church today and a bike ride and chocolate chip cookie making and a little Battleship tourney after dinner, nothing much else to report at the Brown house.

Life is good.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chester & The Foot

Grandma Cheri thought it would be a good idea to have the grand kids come up with a name for Grandpa Bob's new kidney, the one generously donated yesterday by Ryan's little sister, Lacey. They landed on "Chester" a few weeks back, and we've been affectionately calling it such ever since.

Well, the very good news is that the kidney transplant seems to have been a big success thus far. Lacey & Bob reported to Mayo Clinic yesterday morning at 9:00am for an 11:00 am surgery, but the hospital was backed up and things got delayed about three hours. So somewhere around 2:00, they took Lacey back to start her first, successfully harvested her kidney and then started working on Bob. He was only born with one kidney to begin with (which we've learned occurs in about 1 in 750 people, mostly males), and that one failed last year. He's been on dialysis since the fall and it is no fun at all. The implant went well, and as soon as they hooked Chester up inside Bob, his body immediately began producing urine. In fact, the urine output was so great, that his body got depleted on potassium and sodium and he ended up with very painful leg cramps. But as of this morning, they got him largely regulated again and the cramps have subsided quite a bit.

Both are doing really well, although Lacey is super duper sore (like a C-Section I'm sure), but she's getting up a little and moving around like she's supposed to to start the rehabilitation. She's scheduled to leave tonight, if all goes well, and then will have several weeks of home recovery. Bob will be in through Friday, and then his life will be filled with several follow up appointments and therapies, etc. a week for the next month to make sure everything is working.

We are so grateful that all went well and that the countless prayers and fasting efforts were heard.

Now on to the foot...totally unrelated by blog worthy nonetheless...

Our Afty Cakes broke her foot last night and just got it casted this morning. It's blue. She'll be in it for three weeks, then a boot for three weeks, then they'll assess. She was out front skateboarding yesterday before dinner and had just finished up and was going to put it away, but somehow tripped up on it and kaboom....broken.


She broke the same foot three and a half years ago, jumping out of a swing at the park, the week before we were scheduled for our first ever, long-awaited Brown family trip to Disneyland. I had been so bummed about it because I thought our plans were ruined, but later learned that there is no better ticket for getting around Disneyland lines than a broken foot. Seriously, we had it made. We never had to wait in ride lines - they just have you escort your wheel-chaired person to the exit of every ride and you bypass it all. Amazing.

So it's been the long-standing joke in our family that the next time someone breaks a leg, we'll go to Disneyland again. We often joke about who wants to take one for the team. Now we've got to figure out how to make a quick Disneyland trip work amidst the chaos of March. We'll have to see if we can make something work - it's really too incredible of an opportunity to pass up you know - what with no lines and all. Still, the thought of being there potentially during spring break is almost overwhelming - so many bodies everywhere! Maybe we'll just have to do a long weekend and let the kiddos out of school for a day or two. We'll see.

I'm just trying to keep the glass half full perspective. Broken foot = Disneyland. Yes, we are super duper sad that Afty cracked the bone right as softball season is starting. They've had four awesome practices so far and her team is going to be fun to watch. Great coaching, great team, great #1 pitcher. Afty got drafted up to majors this year, so she and Barrett are on the same team again, which is awesome. Since their first game isn't until March 26th, which is about 3 weeks out, there might be a chance that she'll be able to catch the tail end of the season. We'll just have to see how she heals.

So Chester is good, the cast is blue, and Disneyland might be in our future too!

He, he, he...I'm a poet and don't know it...