Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spotlight on Jessica--3rd time's the charm

Okay, I tried to publish this post a couple other times in June. I finally finished it, but when I went to publish it, I couldn't put it as the most recent unless I started a new one from this date...if that makes sense. Anyway, here is Jessica's spotlight blog.

The above picture was taken in front of the Palmyra Temple on a recent family trip(minus Brian, sadly) to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant and some of the sites. (more about that later)

Jessica has become an AWESOME reader. Sadly, I have to admit that I did not read as much with her as I did with Courtney. (The first kid always gets the most one on one attention, right?...please say "right"...) Anyway, Jessica does not seem to have suffered very much for it. She has grown by leaps and bounds in her reading skills this year. She doesn't mind reading now, although she would much rather play. When we read scriptures, she sounds out words that I don't think I knew when I was her age. She continues to amaze us! She reads to Ally a lot and Ally loves it!

She is very active right now. She has a hula hoop that she uses for jumping with, like a jumprope. She's getting pretty good at it.

She just got her hair cut a few weeks ago. She likes to get it short when summer comes. I don't blame her, I like short hair in the summer better too. We all have such thick long hair that becomes a pain to deal with in the summer. It either gets put up in pony tails or cut. Here are some pictures...before and after. I wasn't happy with the way the Supercuts lady did her bangs and she pinned them back after cutting them, so the after picture is not right after. We waited until it looked a bit better. It doesn't look like a major haircut from the pictures but it was significant.

She is our little missionary. Since kindergarten she has talked about different things she can do to tell her friends about the church. She wanted to have one friend over for Family Home Evening. (I'm embarrassed to say we never got to that.) During the school year, she decided to start a "Missionary club" in her class and she said lots of kids were in it, but she hadn't really done much in it. Now, when she has friends over or goes to their house, she has a little "Mormon museum". One day she set all kinds of things in front of and on her dresser. When the two kids that I babysit came over 2 weeks ago, she invited them to come in to the "Mormon museum". The display consisted of her scriptures, the Primary songbook, many different pass-along cards, a picture of a temple, and a few other things I can't remember right now. The kids (ages 9 and 5) were so sweet to sit and listen, even Courtney played along. I don't know if anything will happen with these two kids and their mom as far as the church goes, but we are planting a seed. No....Jessica is planting seeds! All over the place! We are so proud of her and hope be as good as she is with our missionary work!
This sunflower picture was taken in Rochester, NY, when we stayed with cousin Rebecca for the pageant. We love sunflowers in our family.

I really had hoped another daughter, who shall remain nameless, would fall asleep during the Pageant that started at 9:15 pm. Jessica made it through all but the last 10 minutes or so.
We visited the Joseph Smith homes in Palmyra, this is the log home, a replica, and the room, where Moroni visited Joseph Smith that night.
We took a walk through the Sacred Grove in Palmyra...such a beautiful, peaceful place.

This summer Jessica is just trying to keep busy with swimming, playdates, trips to the library and the zoo, the AMC $1 movies, a book club with some friends, and playing with her sisters. She can't wait for the mail to come in late August to find out who her teacher for 2nd grade will be! She's excited to be a 2nd grader! WOW!

That's Jessica!

Baby Squirrels

So today we had an interesting experience. There were some men that came by the complex to trim some of the trees around the buildings. They really cut off a lot of branches and most of them from the tree right by our apartment that provided some shade. I was a bit upset about it, their explanation being something about growing into other tree branches, or on the roof, or something...whatever.

Anyway, there had been a very large squirrel nest in that tree right above the sidewalk that goes in front of our apartment. It has been there almost since we moved in 3 years ago, if not longer...can't remember. Anyway, sadly, the horrible tree cutters cut that brance with the nest on it. Turns out there were really young baby squirrels in it. Tiger had gotten out and Brian saw him discover something...the babies. Brian was able to get Tiger away before he did anything to them. There were 4 hairless babies that he could find. He called me (I was out), and asked me what to do...(like I'm an expert in squirrels..heehee) He decided to put them in a small box with some leaves and a small towel.

(That's the only closeup I got of the babies) When I got home we called Animal Control/Rescue and they told us to put something warm in it and open the box up. The lady then told us that the mom would come and get the babies and take them away. If the mom didn't come by 6 pm we were to call Animal Rescue back and they would come and pick the babies up.

So we left the babies out by the tree for about 2 1/2 hours before Brian noticed a squirrel in the tree near where the nest had been. Then our whole family watched as the mom squirrel, who looked a bit frantic at first, finally realized where her babies were. She made her way to the box and started to take each baby, one by one, in her mouth, to another nest in a not-too-far-away tree. She would position the baby in a certain way so as not to hurt it, scurry off to the new home, and come back and retrieve another baby. I actually managed to load a video about it...(I don't know why this video works and others didn't before.) I apologize for the blurriness of it, but I think you can see it well enough.

It was a pretty cool thing to witness, and we were glad to be a part of it, in helping a little squirrel family reunite. As a mother, I can relate to the need to have all babies home and safe. How traumatic it must have been for both mother and babies to be separated in such a horrible manner. I'm so glad Tiger found them and Brian got to them. They were actually quite difficult to spot in the vines and ivy and such on the ground. Anyway, that's our feel-good story of the day....I've got a lot catch up on in other aspects of our lives, but that will have to wait...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stop the presses!! Courtney turns 9!

Saturday was Courtney's birthday! YEAH! We started the day with presents...early...before breakfast. She just couldn't wait. Breakfast (Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream) followed. Then it was off to a friend's house where they were having their second meeting of a summer book club. The book that was discussed was "Prince Caspian" of "The Chronicles of Narnia" series.

After the book club, we just went home where Courtney could play with her presents. She loves books, so she got a bunch of those. She also got a Webkinz collie dog. And Jessica gave her some knock-off Crocs, aka Gators. (For those who don't know about such things, they are really ugly plastic sandals that are all the rage now.) Thanks, also to Grandma Page for helping her buy ANOTHER Webkinz (the Clydesdale horse). Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa Shumway for the great books! And thanks, Ed for the Hopscotch game and Star game. We will have fun with both!

Her "big" gift this year was an iPod Shuffle. Something she was NOT expecting. We didn't really expect to get her an iPod of any kind just yet, but we figured she was responsible enough to take care of it and she loves music. So we splurged. (Thanks, Pres. Bush for the stimulus! Although I think I'm supposed to be opposed to it, the money sure comes in handy when your husband's a resident!) Anyway, Courtney LOVED(S) the iPod. We had thought about a bike, but now it's a good things we didn't do that since...(well, refer to previous post).

Later in the day, I took Courtney and Jessica to see the new American Girl movie. As I was standing near a guy and his 3 girls, waiting for snacks, I heard him express his annoyance at the fact that the first 3 American Girl movies had been on TV and completely free. But then he shelled out $40+ for snacks too, so he must have not been too annoyed....he was there! He bought into it. Well, anyway, the girls both loved it.

For dinner we had baked potatoes and I made an ice cream sandwich/oreo/fudge cake. She had that last year and it was yummy. So she asked for it again. I'm not a cake decorator so it looks pretty boring...but it's yummy!!!

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Courtney! We can't believe she's 9! Double digits next year. She's brought our family so much joy and we are so proud of the good girl that she is!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Learned a lesson

Well, I am fuming today. At myself mostly, but also at the intolerant attitude of the people that own my apartment complex. Brian moved here before I came out with the kids and found this great complex...beautiful area, convenient to many things, great school district, "nice" management, etc. The downfalls were a few, but we overlooked the fact that we didn't have a washer and dryer and rent was twice what we paid in Phoenix. We thought we were getting a decent deal for the area. It was a tradeoff. That was 3 years ago. When I moved out, I just signed the lease without looking at it really...something I know I should have done, and regret now.

Yesterday, I got a knock on my door, while my kids + 2 friends were out playing, riding bikes and scooters, and hula hooping, etc. It was my apartment manager saying that bikes and scooters and large items were not allowed to be outside on the property. I said "even if the kids are riding them and playing?" "Not on the property", was her reply. "What? They can't ride their bikes out here?" "Not on the property", she said again. "It's in your lease."

Apparently, in the contract it does say that there are not supposed to be any large items, like baby carriages or bicycles or other things out on the property and also it says that there is to be no playing in the "common areas" which include sidewalks, any passageways. She said it poses a tripping hazard and they are always showing apartments and don't want to risk anyone tripping. B-O-L-O-N-E-Y!!!! They don't want to attract families and they don't want it to look like there are families around. We don't leave our stuff out when we aren't using them. My kids get out of the way when someone starts coming. And we have lived here for 3 years and have spent LOTS of time playing outside.

It makes me so mad. I used try to recommend this place to people. In fact late last week, someone was just asking me if I enjoyed living here. I told her that we pretty much liked it. The problems I had with it stemmed from having a large family in a small laundry in the unit, one bathroom, no playground. But those were things we were dealing with just fine. Now to find out that we can't PLAY outside? They might as well put a sign up that says "NO KIDS ALLOWED".

They seem to be more concerned with renting out apartments to new people than keeping the current tenants happy so they will stay. It seems like it would be good business to not alienate their tenants...word of mouth and everything... but what do I know?

And what about tolerance???? I say "Let them PLAY!" We aren't hurting anyone. We are basically pleasant people. Everyone seems to love seeing my kids.

By the way, I asked a few people yesterday afternoon if it bothered them that we played outside and had bikes and scooters and stuff. AND 3 out of 3 people said things like "No, on the contrary, I love it!" "It's a bright spot in my day!"

Anyone got any tips on how to handle this? We are in this for another year. Not sure we can break our lease and get a new place, without tons of penalties, but it's a principal that's important to me!

Sorry for the ranting and raving....I'll stop now....