Monday, September 29, 2008

Helicopters and the Zoo

On Saturday, Rob was umpiring softball again, and the kids and I went to Bass Pro Shop and the Phoenix Zoo. We were happy that my parents came along with us!

They were doing a family preparedness day at Bass Pro Shop, so there were all kinds of fire trucks, police departments, hospitals, etc. with little tables set up. And the Chick-Fil-A cow was there, which meant coupons for free kids meals! Take a wild guess where we ate lunch.

They also had the Med Evac and Native Air helicopters in the parking lot. Robbie has been really excited about the color yellow lately, so the two yellow helicopters were pretty cool for him. The kids got to climb inside and check them out. I liked it myself! I guess I've never actually been that close to a helicopter before. Here are the kids with the helicopters - don't you love the "squinting in the sun" faces?

If you haven't been to Bass Pro Shop, it's a cool place to look around. It's a lot like Cabela's. There's a lot of stuff to look at - plenty of dead, taxidermied stuff, a big fish tank, a fish pond. On Saturdays, they let the kids feed the fish in the pond.

By lunch time, we were all sweaty, tired, and probably dehydrated! But we felt better after eating and after plenty of refills, and off we went to the zoo.

The Smithsonian was doing Free Museum Day, and the zoo was included, so that's the whole reason we went. We only had a couple of hours before the zoo closed, and none of us really felt like walking around the whole zoo. So we saw all the exciting stuff - the giraffes, tigers, monkeys, elephants. Here are the kids up close & personal with the mandrills:

(Side note: The mandrill in the back was picking through the other one's hair and eating his bugs. I alwyas get a kick out of that)

It was so HOT, though! I probably should've brought my parents back to the Med Evac helicopters afterward. We were pretty wiped out. See?

Hot, sweaty, and smelling like the zoo!

It was a fun day, though.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

EAC, Part 2

Now that you've read about our luxurious accommodations, you may wonder why Iwould ever leave! But I did tear myself away to go to class. Some of my teachers included:

...The geology teacher who wore more clothes than anyone ever needs to. She would wear a turtleneck under a t-shirt with a button-up shirt over that. In the cold months she would add a sweater, a jacket, earmuffs, gloves, AND mittens.

...The theater teacher who seriously thought she should be on Broadway

...The psychology teacher with an awesome sense of humor, but you always felt like he could see through your soul

...The sociology teacher who was blind but would pace around the classroom without his cane as he lectured. He woud call on someone like this "Okay, the person in the third row, second seat..." and sometimes one of us would have to tell him, "Um, nobody's in that seat"

...The art history teacher who was awarded the prize for "Least Interesting Man in America". Or he should've been anyway. He would get a room full of college kids at 8 am, dim the lights, and shows slides for 90 minutes while he read the slide captions in monotone.

Aside from that last guy, I liked my teachers pretty well and my classes were interesting.

Some of the other fun stuff we did at EAC:

The Institute was a great place to hang out. The teachers were all really good, and it was just a nice place to be. I don't know if they still have it or not, but there was a bulletin board there and a stack of little paper. You'd check it a couple of times a day between classes to see if you had a note from anyone. I still have a lot of these little notes somewhere! There was always something there to make you laugh or brighten your day somehow.

Red Knolls was a cool place to hike. The heavily-clad geology teacher even took us on a field trip there once. But it's like a giant lump of solidified clay, with all kinds of weird formations, caves, and tunnels. It's a neat place to climb around. I only have one photo of it, so this will have to do. You can kind of make out one of my friends standing (in black) by the opening of the cave.

Choir! Dr. Lunt was the coolest choir director ever. Everyone went to the concerts, and they were always lots of fun. He always had barbershop and beauty shop quartets, and those four guys and four girls were like mini-celebrities. They said that if you drank the water from the choir room drinking fountain, you'd get married. Dr. Lunt even started putting little placards up around the drinking fountain to commemorate those couples who "drank the water". One winter when we were decorating the choir room, we hung a bunch of mistletoe above the drinking fountain and I remember him saying it was a dangerous machine. Here's a picture from one of the Fall Sings. These always ended with a big patriotic number, and a giant American flag would come down behind us. Always gave me goosebumps!

The hot springs. There were several places along the Gila River where you could find natural hot springs. One of them actually had a little home-made concrete hot tub that someone had crafted! The only drawback to the hot springs was that a couple of times a year, little groups of roving hippies would live there for a couple of weeks on their way through to wherever.

Mount Graham. I still like to go camping up there! It's just really pretty up in the mountains, and it's always fun to play with the squirrels & stuff. And snow in the winter!

I need to tell a few stories, too, but I'm running out of time! Maybe I can tell some random college stories in future blogs.

EAC, Part 1

I had to copy Amy and Summer's blogs about college! Who knows how long this will be, so hang on...

EAC (Eastern Arizona College) August 1994 - May 1996

Thatcher, Arizona
Colors: Purple & gold
Mascot: Gila Monster (hey, at least it's not an artichoke)

There wasn't an abundance of "official" housing at EAC, so lots of kids rented old run-down houses or trailers around town. Howard's Trailer Park may as well have been a dorm.

We lived in a house that was past being called "run-down". It has since been demolished and I believe an A&W sits atop its grave now. Many of the college houses were named. There was Val Halla, the Peach Pit, etc. Ours was the Passion Palace! Lucky us.

My first year, I was one of ten girls living there. Roommates are great because you sort of get automatic friends. Having nine is good because you don't get tired of the same person all the time. It takes nine times as long to get tired of them.

There were certainly not nine bedrooms in the house. Five bedrooms had been created over the years, and at least three of them also served as hallways to get to other parts of the house. Mine was an add-on to the back of the house. The old "outside" of the house had never been painted or drywalled - it was weathered gray siding, and the porch light was still attached by the former back door. (The window on the back door had been painted white, and this was now a door to the next bedroom) My room had two doors to the outside, and it served as a passageway to one of the bathrooms and the laundry room. The laundry room was also an add-on, and while doing laundry, you could look through the old kitchen window at whoever was doing the dishes. From certain angles, you could even see into the bathroom from the kitchen window. Awesome!

There were two bathrooms which were almost always in use. They set the stage for the infamous "bathroom wars" my second year. Lots of pranks going back and forth. Old brownies rolled into logs and placed lovingly on the toilet seat, traffic barricades left mysteriously next to the tub... etc. Oh yes, and if someone was doing laundry when you took a shower, you had to get out before the rinse cycle or all the laundry water would come up the drain up over your ankles.

The kitchen had two fridges, and if you didn't put your name on your stuff, too bad! At one point, there were only two saucepans in the house, so we quickly adopted the rule that saucepans had to be washed as soon as you were done cooking in them. Otherwise, how could we all make our macaroni & cheese?? The dish calendar was a source of unquestioned justice. We got a calendar, wrote all the names on there in order, and you had to do all the dishes on your day. If you missed your day, the dishes were still yours until you got them done! Ten girls can generate a lot of dirty dishes by the end of the day. But the calendar reigned supreme, and it actually worked.

A working television sat atop a non-working television in the living room. The legless couches had cinder blocks under the corners to lift them off the floor. The floor which was covered in matted olive-green shag carpet. Our decor was eclectic, but I think the best description is "Early American Landfill". For some period of time, the TV only worked for movies and not TV. I watched The Fugitive about a thousand times that year.

Near the floor in my room was a light switch. Nobody knew what it was for, but we liked to turn it on and off. Later on, we learned that there was a cellar, and at the end of every school year, the roommates would go down there and sign their names. We finally knew what the light switch was for! We fully expected to find Jimmy Hoffa in there. But no, just a basement and a bunch of writing.

Other highlights of the house:

Home of the longest phone cord known to man. This cord could stretch through each of the bedrooms and then back to its home in the hallway. It was the cause of many near-death experiences.

We lived about 15 feet off the highway and directly across the street from Mark Allen Hall (dorm). The dorm residents would be locked out after midnight, so lots of times they would end up at our house. In the mornings, you could wander out and find a handful of people sleeping on the couches and the floor. Sometimes you knew them, sometimes you just figured one of the roommates knew them. No big deal.

I remember after complaining to our landlord about a wasp problem, she sent her teenage son over with a can of Raid. After an especially rainy and leaky season, we complained about the nineteen bowls we had to scatter around the house to catch the rain, so during spring break, they painted the roof. The next time it rained, we had nineteen bowls filled with milky-white water. Much better!

We taped an especially small roommate to the wall once. She was actually a couple inches off the ground. I've blacked out her eyes to protect her identity. Is that okay, Monica?

We used a lot of duct tape. One of our chairs was held together solely with duct tape. We also did a fine drywall patch with duct tape and paint after our good friend Chris fell through one of the walls.

I'm sure there's more I'm leaving out! It was a wonderful place.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rob!

Rob turned 33 today! Here are a few flashbacks photos...

About 2 years old:

(Yes, he was born without Lefty)

Maybe 3 or 4:

On his mission in Ecuador - this is how they slept:

Rob was born September 17, 1975 in Aurora, Illinois. He's the middle child, right between two sisters. They moved to Mesa when he was a kid & he's been here since, except for a few summers and a school year spent in Illinois, and his mission.

He kept busy in high school. In Lena, IL, he played football, and he called the school's volleyball games over the radio for the local station. I think he played some basketball, too. In Mesa, he went to Westwood High School, and he played baseball (first base and pitcher). He was in all kinds of clubs, and played the trumpet in band.

He started college at Scottsdale Community College (the Fighting Artichokes - I am not making this up) and he tried out for their baseball team, but didn't quite make the cut. He went to Mesa Community College after his mision, and then finished up at ASU. He graduated in 2000 with his degree in Exercise Science.

He met his wonderful wife ;) in the spring of 1999. Rob is very hard-working and makes sure his family is taken care of. He umpires softball as a second job, just to make sure we have what we need! He's a busy guy. He loves sports! Mostly baseball. But name a sport, and he's probably played it & is pretty good at it. Basketball, skiing, bowling, rollerblading, ice skating, tennis... you get the idea.

He's also very active in church, and he takes his responsibilities seriously. That's something that's important to me. He is a good example, especially when it comes to pitching in to help others. We like having him around.

Happy birthday, Rob! We love you!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It's a dark day for Sun Devil fans. We lost to an unranked team - in overtime - last night. That's all I have to say about that.

So let's move on to happier things! Some more thoughts about ASU games, in no particular order...

Erin visited with her favorite cheerleader again before last night's game. Imagine Erin's delight when she said, "Hi, Erin!" I was happy this girl remembered Erin's name from last week. That was a huge deal to Erin! We saw her several times last night & it's kind of fun to run into her now.

After halftime, part of the band splits off and they go play in the aisles of different sections of the stadium. We hollered enough for them to come to our section last night, and they all give high fives on their way up the aisles. Here's Erin high-fiving the band:

They were going to leave after one song, but we made enough ruckus & demanded the fight song, so they obliged.

Fight, Devils, down the field!
Fight with your might and don't ever yield.
Long may our colors outshine all others;
Echo from the buttes, "Give 'em hell, Devils!"
Cheer, cheer for ASU!
Cheer for the old maroon!
For it's hail, hail, the gang's all here,
And it's onward to victory!

Yes, my kids are allowed to sing "hell" in that song.

The people who sit in front of us are really cool. They're just the right amount of rowdy & they're fun to sit with. Here's the view from our seats - not bad! That sea of gold shirts on the end is the student section.

I worked as an usher during my first year at ASU. I got paid $5.00 an hour to go to all the games. Nice deal! The ushers basically just sign up for whatever they want to work, so I did all the football, some basketball, swimming, some concerts. It was a fun job! Although that was also the 96/97 season when we went to the Rose Bowl, and the fans were completely nuts... which led to my first experience with pepper spray. Some brilliant college rent-a-cop thought spraying pepper spray on a windy evening would be good crowd control. Yeah. Let's hope that's my only experience with pepper spray.

That year, Sparky was my home teacher! Paul was always really busy on game days, and I found it odd that he went to every single ASU event and all the away games. Finally, he let me in on his super-hero identity & I thought it was pretty awesome that I was friends with Sparky! I think most of our singles ward knew. I know Misty and Sherry were friends with Paul, too. We ended up going on our missions around the same time, and we ran into each other a lot at the MTC. Here we are being very missionary-like and shaking hands for the camera. Unfortunatley, I lost touch with him not too long after that. But look at that smile - he really is part Sparky!

Finally, Robbie's latest accomplishment. He saw the U of A logo on a shirt in the store yesterday, and he promptly made a thumbs-down and blew a raspberry at it. One of my proudest moments as a parent!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Go Devils!

(No, I didn't take this picture. Nice, though!)

ASU fans are happy once again this weekend - we beat Stanford 41-17 last night! Here's how we enjoyed the game:

1. Got there early & listened to the band warm up outside the stadium. Erin had her picture taken with her favorite cheerleader - she decided this girl was her favorite & didn't want her picture with any of the others. I told the cheerleader this & she got all happy! Erin was excited that she let her hold the pom poms.

2. Wandered around the stadium with the kids looking for Sparky before the game. We were watching the players through the fence when Sparky came up behind us! Hi Sparky.

3. The kids learned quickly that if they want to make the entire student section scream and go "Woooo" all they have to do is hold up the pitchfork sign when we walk by. (See Sparky's hand above if you don't know what this is)

4. Sweat, cheer, sweat!

5. Took Robbie for his halftime bathroom break & ran out a little energy. One thing I love about Sun Devil Stadium is how it's built right into the mountains!

6. Sweat, cheer, sweat!

7. Leave about two minutes early to beat some of the crowd on the way out. Walk about 1/2 mile to the car, where we blast the a/c and the kids snooze on the way home.

Go Sun Devils! See you next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Say Your Prayers, Varmint

Today's find was a praying mantis. Maybe I shouldn't capture and post pictures of every creature we find in our yard, but I'm calling it science.I guess I just like watching the kids checking out new things. And Erin will always ask some question that I'm not completely able to answer, so then I learn something when I look it up.

We stuck the poor praying mantis in a jar. Erin wants to keep it and then let it go tomorrow morning. So I put a couple of crickets in there for company. Or a midnight snack. Have I ever mentioned that I hate crickets? I hope the mantis will be alone and chubby in the jar tomorrow morning.
The cat had her own thoughts about the bugs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Take me out to the ball game

Some friends gave us tickets to last night's game (thanks!). It was a fun thing to do on a weeknight, even though the Cardinals beas us 8-2! It was like watching batting practice for a few innings.

We got there early and the kids spent some time on the playgrounds in the "Sandlot" area.

They have a regular batting cage back there, which Rob enjoyed. They also had a miniature baseball diamond where they let kids hit wiffle balls and run the bases. There was a guy in a Diamondbacks uniform pitching to the kids, and they had a tee in there for the smaller ones. He was pretty cool - he would learn the kids' names and I liked the way he interacted with them.

The stadium wasn't too full, so we had plenty of room to spread out with the kids. They had pizza for dinner, Rob had some Diamond Dogs (which he loves), and nachos for me. That's nutrition!

Did you know that if you sign up as a designated driver at Guest Services, you get a free soda? You just sign a thing that says you won't drink at the game & they give you a wristband. Voila - free soda!

I think we'll go to one more game this season. I can't believe it's September already!

I didn't blog about the ASU game on Saturday because I didn't bring my camera. But stay tuned for the next one...