Monday, December 13, 2010

The Grand Canyon

The first weekend in December, we took Thursday and Friday off and took a four day trip up to see my Grandma in St. George. The first day we went to the Grand Canyon. The kids had never been, so we thought now that they are six and eight and will probably remember it, this would be a good time to go. It was a great time to go, as it was not very crowded at all. There were people there, but considering it gets 4.5 million visitors (according to the Visitor's Center) a year, it was very quiet. By 4:00 or so, there were two stops where there was no one there but us. There was a light dusting of snow from earlier that week which made things even more beautiful and was a huge highlight for the kids. I will post about the rest of the trip soon. Here are some photos of the day at the Grand Canyon:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Played around a little with "focal black and white"...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Send Us Some Leaves!!

Photo from Google Images

Maya's teacher is planning on doing some fall leaves activities with the kids in a few weeks. For the project, she would like them to collect colorful fall leaves from different parts of the country. If you have some fall leaves you would like to send to us, we would love it! They are light, so you should be able to just use a regular stamp. Any help with this will be appreciated!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our Storm

We had a huge storm here a little over a week ago. Maya was at school at the time, Rick had just arrived home from work and Shayne and I had just arrived home from running some errands (we were on fall break already). Sheets and sheets of rain fell and the trees were bending and blowing fiercely. Anyway, we the rain and wind subsided after about 10 or 15 minutes and we heard a knock at the door. It was one of our neighbors to tell us that a tree had fallen on Rick's car. This is the one he uses for work. A tree from someone's yard fell on the carport, which fell right onto the car. The pictures aren't great as they were taken with Rick's phone, and I can't seem to get them any bigger, but you get the idea.

Soon after we discovered the car, it was time to go pick up Maya about 2 miles south of our house. It took way longer than normal to get there due to many fallen trees, flooded streets and the traffic lights being out. When we finally got there, the normal 5 minute ride had taken about 20 minutes and poor Maya and her classmates were very anxious. Later we learned that the power had gone out in her classroom during the storm and a tree had fallen about 10 feet away from the room also. Her room has no windows, so it must have been pitch black and with all of the noises from outside, and considering most of these kids have sensory and anxiety issues anyway, it was quite a situation I'm sure. She was visibly upset when we picked her up but calmed quickly. We were grateful no one was hurt. Here are a few AZ Republic articles about our crazy weather if you are interested in reading more:

Wind, rain, hail clobber Valley

Arizona Weather Turns Wilder

Friday, October 15, 2010

Indoor Activities...

One of our favorite places to go when it is hot outside, which it is at least 4 months of the year here, is the Mesa Southwest Museum. It is a 15 minute drive from home and has lots of great hands-on activities for the kids.

Digging for dinosaur bones

Doing a dinosaur rubbing

Playing dinosaurs

Drawing a T-Rex

Being on TV with the green screen

When wrapped in green, they just show up on the TV screen as a floating head

In the copper mine

Panning for gold

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maya's Birthday in the Forest

I know I haven't posted for awhile, so we are going all the way back to May, when Maya had her birthday. She told us she wanted to have it "in the forest" so we went camping for the night up in Payson at our favorite spot. We had a great time and it was a scenic and relaxing place for a birthday celebration. Here are a few photos:

Maya likes the book and video, The Lorax. She got the bird character from it for her birthday and had a lot of fun with her.

She was really into space in the spring too, and wanted a rocket ship cake.

She also got a guitar that she was really excited about. This was taken in the morning, and yes, this is what her hair looks like every day before we brush it.

By the park we like to go to sometimes in town, there is a war memorial we had never gotten a good look at before.

The park is about 15 minutes away from the campground and is right in the town. It is beautiful there and a fun place to play and do skateboarding tricks.

For anyone who has never had a birthday in the forest, I highly recommend it!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Really Clean Glass

Here is the same image, not cropped. I liked Alison's guess that she wanted it as a pet though. That was close...we have a good-sized empty aquarium at home that we have been wanting to get fish or a lizard for. A few weeks ago, when we were talking about it, Maya told me she wanted a marine iguana to live in it. I thought, since we can barely handle caring for two cats, it might be a bit much to get a marine iguana shipped to us from the Galapagos Islands...Here is a four minute video about marine iguanas if you are curious. The photo below is from Google Images. For now, we will continue to see our huge reptiles at the zoo instead of the living room.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Guess How

Guess how Maya is this close to a komodo dragon without anyone worrying about it...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Reason We Are Tired...(as a profession)

When you have a few minutes, watch this video. I am taking a history content class on Thursdays for the past few weeks (we have to have 180 professional development hours every seven years or our certificates expire... I guess they figure we don't have enough going against us). Anyway, my teacher showed us this video clip which I had seen on TV a long time ago...totally hilarious.

Obviously I am not on Spring Break anymore and haven't been updating much...I'll add more soon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stones Into Schools

This is the sequel to the book I wrote a post about a little over a year ago, Three Cups of Tea. If anything, it is even better than the first book.

In Stones Into Schools, we continue where Greg Mortenson left off in the story of his life's work thusfar, to help build schools in the remote parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, for all children, but especially girls, as they have often been denied the right to go to school in those countries. This story continues in post 9/11 Pakistan and Afghanistan, with all the things Greg and his foundation, the Central Asia Institute, did to continue their work even with significantly more dangerous conditions. He tells first-hand accounts of the horrible impact of Taliban rule on the every day lives of Afghans and of the devastating earthquake in that region in 2005, but mostly it is an inspiring story of hope.

It is heartening to read about all of the wonderful people doing life-changing things in that part of the world who have struggled against radicalism for so long. We so often only hear the loudest and most extreme voices from that region so it is refreshing to hear a different perspective. I think what sets Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute apart from other charity organizations is that in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they operate with local people and have built relationships with all types of people from all walks of life. The schools are mostly funded through the institute, but part of the deal is that the village donates land and labor also. The local people are an integral part of the building, staffing and maintenance of the schools. Also, they travel and build in very remote parts of the region where few, if any foreigners dare to venture.

I thought that this book would take me a little while to get through, being about 400 pages, non-fiction and with tons of places and people in it. Nothing could have been further from the truth- I had trouble putting it down and was through it in three days and wanting more. The book included maps, an alphabetical directory of people and a glossary which made it even more clear. I highly recommend this book, especially if you read and enjoyed Three Cups of Tea.

If you have a minute, check out the Central Asia Institute website and read about some of the work that they do. They are an amazing group of people.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mud, a Big Tree House and a Komodo Dragon

Last week we went to the zoo. We hadn't been for at least 6 months, so it was really nice to go. They have a sting ray exhibit where the kids can pet the sting rays that is always fun. One thing that was new since last time we were there were 2 adult Komodo Dragons. They were really neat and we all liked seeing them. I didn't get a good picture because the one that was close enough was behind plexi-glass.

Maya and a bunch of other kids waded and played "mud" in the creek by the playground. Arizona kids don't get many opportunities to do this...

This is a really fun, huge tree house play area that all the kids love. It is right upstream from the mud. Try to find Shayne in the picture.

We had a lot of rain this winter so everything is very pretty and green (green for the desert anyway).

Maya really liked the Komodo Dragons. When we got home, we found a 15 minute video on the Internet about Komodo dragons. After she watched it she drew a picture of one and wanted to know how to spell it.Here is a family of Komodo Dragons