Friday, November 30, 2012

Birthday Weekend

Poor Paige... she was born on my birthday, so I'm really lame about throwing birthday parties for her. It's not really her fault, but she shouldn't have done that. I know, I'm pathetic. But... this year I was finally a cool mom and had a party for her at As You Wish pottery! All the girls got to decorate their own ceramic piece.
Paige and Kallie both got dolphins.
This was the quietest birthday party I've ever been to... the girls were concentrating hard on their work.
Afterward, we had pizza and opened gifts.
Then all the girls got to make a wish and get fairy glitter sprinkled in their hair. I'm sure some of it is still in there...
And then they chased bubbles!
Crazy girls!
On Saturday, which was our actual birthday, Paige and I started out by getting spa pedicures together. Then the whole family went to eat at Joe's BBQ for our free birthday meals. Afterward, I decided I would like to go on a bike ride with the family. Brandon told us he was riding in the trunk.
We decided to follow the canal that runs through Gilbert.
The only problem was that I chose to wear rollerblades, and the first part of the path was dirt! I held on to Kyle's bike, squatted close to the ground, and tried to keep my toes up while he pulled me... there were a few scary moments, but I made it! Oh sweet pavement!
There is something about bridges that makes us have to cross them all...
We started at Zanjero park by Lindsay and the 202 and ended at a park near Val Vista and Warner, where we stopped to play at the playground.
Later, we went to Swirl It froyo for a birthday treat... that ended up being dinner (and costed about as much!!). Then we went to the dollar theater, which is actually three dollars these days, and saw Brave. I thought it was a great birthday, but Paige said she didn't really feel like it was her birthday because she didn't blow out any candles. So... we put candles in a cookie leftover from her birthday party.
Happy birthday, Paige!
(I know what Annalee's going to say... why weren't you there for your own birthday? Hahaha... somebody's gotta take the pictures!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Farm Party

Who would've thought my dad, the computer programmer, would ever become a farmer? Well, I guess there were clues. He listened to country music before I was born, he owned at least one pair of cowboy boots and a western shirt when I was growing up, and he's watched a lot of spaghetti westerns in his time. I guess he's always been a little bit country! And my mom... well, her dad was a farmer, and every time we drive through farm country, she kind of longs to get back to her roots.

And so it was that my parents bought a 15-acre farm in Coolidge a few years back, and they have been farming it ever since! They built a farm building, complete with a darling farmhouse apartment on the upper floor, and bought tractors and other farm equipment to work the farm. I'm still enjoying a bucket of durum wheat grown on the family farm... it is SO good!

On Saturday, November 3, they hosted an open house farm party... what fun! I came up with the idea for Russ to build a trebuchet for launching pumpkins at the farm... do you really think I had to twist his arm? No. In fact, his friend came up with a design just about as soon as it was mentioned to him... and once they had the materials, they had that thing built in a matter of hours.
Don't they look proud? I can already tell they are planning to upstage themselves next year.
Here it is getting ready to launch. I know, I need to upload the video, but I'm too lazy right now (how lazy do you have to be to be unwilling to do some clicking and typing on the computer? Okay, okay, I'll post it. Let it be known that I am not a very good videographer, and I failed to follow the pumpkin!).
The pumpkins did not survive!
Kallie had fun with lots of friends at the farm.
My dad built a hay bale mountain that the kids loved to climb.
More friends!
Okay, this was like the second day I had my new camera, and I wasn't familiar enough with the controls to get this picture in time... so, here is the hayride as it's passing me. I didn't get the tractor in the picture, but you can see my pregnant friend, Lisa, running to get on the back. Ha ha!
This was a favorite toy for the kids. For my dad, only a John Deere will do.
My parents hooked us all up with the most delicious catered BBQ dinner, which was the highlight of the night... yummy, yum, yum! Soon after dinner, most people went home, and we were left with a small group of family and friends. My uncle gave the kids rides on the hoist (which was like a swing that could be raised up high and pulled across the farm building), and Russ and I practiced our swing dancing to the country music. It was so good to see so many friends and family and to meet new people, too. Can't wait for the next party!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grandpa (1922-2012)

Last month, I had a dream. My grandma had left a message on my answering machine, frantically saying she was lost and needed my help. I panicked and tried to return her call, only to have her answering machine pick up and say she was unavailable. Worried about what had happened to her, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt because I had not been there when she needed me.

When I woke up, I was relieved to find it was just a dream... but the feeling stayed with me. I had listened to General Conference the weekend before, and the message from Dieter F. Uchtdorf came back to my mind:

"Perhaps the most universal regret dying patients expressed was that they wished they had spent more time with the people they love.

Men in particular sang this universal lament: they “deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the [daily] treadmill of … work.” Many had lost out on choice memories that come from spending time with family and friends. They missed developing a deep connection with those who meant the most to them."


It was fall break, the kids were out of school and bored out of their minds, so I determined we would go visit my grandparents that day. When I called, my grandpa answered. In his typical fashion, he asked how I was doing and then followed my response by saying I looked great, too. I asked if they had time for us to visit that day. He had work to do at the farm and asked if I could postpone my visit a couple of hours, but I told him I had other obligations in the afternoon. When I suggested that we could reschedule for another day, he insisted I come at whatever time was convenient for me. He didn't want to miss this opportunity to visit with us. So, off we went.

We had fun rummaging through Grandma's jewelry and shoes, covering Kallie in accessories and taking pictures. Then we decided to meet my dad at the farm and all go to lunch together. Grandma remarked that when she woke up that morning, she never would have guessed we'd all be having lunch together. I recounted the story of my dream and the conference message it brought to mind. I told them I knew at the end of my life, I wouldn't regret not spending enough time in the grocery store or surfing the internet... I'd only regret not spending enough time with my people.
Brandon just grabbed onto great grandpa's hand as we walked through the parking lot.
My grandpa passed away today.

When I got word this morning of his passing, the first thing I said to Russ is that we don't have enough time on this earth to spend it resenting people and holding grudges. We barely have enough time to love each other.
The memory of the day we spent together last month could not be brushed from my thoughts. If we had postponed, would it have ever happened? Grandpa dropped his plans of working at the farm to spend time with us, and I have a feeling he doesn't regret it. He already knew what we are beginning to understand as we get older.

That is the lesson that's permeating my heart today... all that really matters is your people. These are Grandpa's people at a reunion in January 2010.
My grandpa was a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. He was getting ready to go to the temple right before he died. He knew families can be together forever.
We will miss you, Grandpa!
D. Clayne Sandstrom (Aug 20, 1922 - Nov 20, 2012)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Halloween

I figured I had better hurry and post Halloween pictures before Thanksgiving gets here! Fall seems to fly by at warp speed.

This year for Halloween, I wanted to be Medusa. I wanted to be a really fantastic Medusa with animatronic snakes, but we never could figure out a good way to pull it off... so, with Halloween quickly approaching, I thought if I could figure out how to make snake hair at all, I'd be doing pretty well. Don't look into her eyes!!
Naturally, Russ had to be a statue. Here is a picture my friend took of us at the ward trunk or treat. I won best adult costume! Yeah! A box of Frankenberry cereal validated all my hard work :) <--that is supposed to be a smiley face.
Russ put a little more effort into his stone appearance on Halloween night. His color looked more like a statue and less like a chimney sweep.
The kids were all characters out of the cartoon, Ruby Gloom. I suppose I should start with a picture from the show since most people have never heard of it.
Paige was Ruby Gloom.
Kallie was Scaredy Bat. I made a purple scarf for her, but she forgot it.
Brandon was supposed to be Frank N Len, the two-headed boy, but I had last-minute technical difficulties with the second head. Too bad because Will did an awesome job painting it!!! He was also supposed to be wearing jeans, but I needed the kids to help me get him dressed, so this is what we ended up with. I painted his shoes and made the shirt... he still loves wearing them and saying, "I'm Frank n Len!"
Ready to trick-or-treat.
After trick-or-treating, we had dinner in the neighbors' driveway. Some of the adults took the kids for another round of trick-or-treating, but I had already had enough of walking in my high heel (I almost wrote hell... Freudian slip) snakeskin boots!
Notice the eyeballs on our house in the background. Russ made them so they could move in all directions this year... pretty cool! He had them start in the middle, look quickly down to the left, slowly move across to the right, and then back to center.
And just because I never got to throw this in earlier, here is the 60's girl costume I put together for my aunt's 60th birthday. I made bell bottoms for Russ out of some old jeans... it was lots of fun even though we were the only ones to dress up besides my cousin (also in the picture).
Halloween, you are so fun... I had better end this post before I wax poetic!