Friday, June 30, 2017

Who does the world revolve around?

A lot has happened in the last two months.  We made it through baseball season, Miles graduated from Kindergarten, Carter got promoted to the third grade and mom renewed her contract for her 4th year as principal.  Miles's "graduation" from Kindergarten was recently validated based on a conversation in our car.  I was in the middle of ending a conversation on my car phone, and Carter immediately asked that we listen to Journey on Pandora.  Frustrated, I replied to his request by saying "Carter, the world does not revolve around you."  Miles promptly replied, "Yeah, Carter.  The world revolves around the sun."   Looks like those new NGSS standards are really impacting the education of our youth.  I still get confused on what revolves around what.  Either way, it was a good laugh and reminder of what really matters.
Unfortunately, in preparing the pool room to house all sorts of lovely drinks and ice cream bars by positioning a refrigerator, Bradley tore a disc in his back.  It's been a slow healing process, but after a week flat on his back or with a walker, we're calling each new task a win.  The world did revolve around his needs for a week or so and we are so incredibly thankful that he's recovering!

 Sadly, Bradley was supposed to be joining Joy on the 200 some odd mile running trek from Southern Oregon to the coast, but the back injury prevented him from joining in the fun.  Mom logged over 27 miles in 35 hours and Bradley was able to join the Hiltons in the mountains for a trek into a lake for some Father's Day fishing.

We recently spent a weekend in San Francisco as a family.  After a wedding on the way down, we arrived in the city late on a Friday night.  We had purchased owner tickets for Saturday's game as a fundraiser for our local Booster Club and decided to sit in the bleachers for the Sunday game.  Little did we know that it was also "Pride" weekend in San Francisco.  An additional million people in the city and a lot of cultural flavor made for some interesting conversations.  In the city, it really does feel like everyone knows the world revolves around them.  Nice guys do finish last.

We arrived early in line for Sunday's game.  We wanted the world to revolve around us and decisively ran fast, passing up other fans up the levels in order to score tickets for autograph day.  Both boys had their MLB baseball and mom supplied Sharpie and patiently waited in line.  Sam Dyson, number 49 relief pitcher was on duty, and both boys got his autograph.  Following the game the boys got to run the bases.  What a thrill!!  They even managed to scoop some of the infield dirt into their pockets and I added it to the bottom of the cases for their signed balls.  We ate a lot of great food, enjoyed all that AT&T has to offer, cheered on our Giants and just enjoyed each other.

Both boys are doing swim team this summer and it's been a great way to keep a routine during the summer and get some exercise.  They recently completed their first lap-a-thon.  Miles had a goal of 10 and Carter of 50.  They completed 69 and 100 laps respectively.  The boys have also been doing a great job of following Captain Super Bulldog's recommendations to do 30 minutes of math or reading each day.

We are trying to breathe in everything that summer has to offer us.  Our pool has been an amazing addition to each day and is a total mental game changer in the heat.  We hope that summer is truly never ending.  The long days and late nights seem to fly by despite the speed that the earth does revolve around the sun.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Riding the Mexican Wave

We recently returned from a week in Mexico relaxing with family.  Bradley's sister, brother-in-law, and our niece and nephew all travelled and stayed together in a Villa in Cabo San Lucas.  We drank way too much beer and not enough water.  The adults relaxed on the beach for hours while the kids swam.  We laughed, ate, and just simply enjoyed every moment.  Well, not every moment.  There was the night that Mexican gut hit four family members.  I may or may not have forced the boys and Mason to ride a "banana tube"  going 40 mph in the ocean.  I'm just glad we are all still alive.  Seriously.  There were also a few scary taxi rides.  Carter managed to hook a Swordfish in the Sea of Cortez, but the fish got off at the boat.  I'd say that was the biggest disappointment.  Pretty blessed that we can say that being on a boat in the Sea of Cortez with your family was slightly disappointing because you didn't catch any fish.  We spun it the other way and just realized we need to come back.  In fact, we have to come back to the Giggling Marlin because Miles made such an impression with his dance moves that by the third night we came back, I'm pretty sure our beer was free.  In fact, we got two free buckets of beer because I won a musical chair contest and another table of Scott Valley folks was there to cheer me on.  The contest ended in a race so I knew I had it in the bag.

 Even while on vacation the boys got to show off their awesome math skills.  Each day we were offered everything from cigars to illegal drugs, to Mexican bracelets, Mangoes on a stick, and even donuts.  Yes, who wouldn't want a cream filled donut at 2pm in the afternoon in eighty degree weather?  Our kids did of course.  Carter asked how much, the woman replied that the donuts were two dollars each.  The woman continued on.  The other kids stated they wanted a donut.  I told Carter to "run down and ask her how much for two donuts."  He ran about 10 yards, abruptly turned around and stated "It would be $4 mom?!?".  Great.  So happy that you are quick with the number sense kid.  Not so great with the common sense.
 Pretty rough to be Miles.
 Great food and off the beaten path.
 After three trips to Cabo Bradley finally took me to the arch.

 Swordfish on!
 Hours and hours and hours of this.
 Last night and Shelby's birthday.  Special restaurant on the beach.

The week ended too soon, but we have tried to ride that Mexico wave of relaxation and zen mentality for all it's worth.  Upon return it's been back to baseball four nights a week, outside projects, preparing for two kids in the talent show, and the end of the school year.  Bradley and his dad are coaching Carter's Little League team and watching the games has easily become the highlight of my week.  Miles plays farm league and I'd be lying if I said that those games were the highlight.  They are actually fun, but just in a "there aren't any rules and every kids runs around the bases, and only adults pitch" kind of fun.  The most exciting part is that Miles is truly beginning to love and understand the sport.  In fact, as I type this the boys are out playing a game of ball in the backyard.  Together.  Having fun.  Not arguing.  Perhaps it's just that wave of Mexican relaxation.

Miles turned six years old on April 18th.
 I made him birthday pancakes with sprinkles and Ms. Shelley delivered cupcakes to school.   That weekend we took eight of his Kindergarten friends to a local "paint your pottery" shop.  A few phosphates and chocolate cupcakes later and we were ready for some games of pinball before pizza.  Miles tore through every change container in the house and came up with a half gallon ziploc of quarters.  Those quarter didn't last ten minutes in the pizza place.  So much for the Mexican wave of relaxation.

True to tradition, here are his answers for his 6th birthday:

What is your name?  Miles
What is your favorite color?  Blue
What do you want to be when you grow up? Artist
Who is your best friend? Tinley and Carter
What is your favorite food?  Sticky Rice
What is your favorite thing to do?  Play Sorry with the family.
Who is your favorite animal?  Zebra
What is one thing you don't like?  Salad
What can you do now that you are six years old?  Ride a brand new bike on cement.  Clean the chicken coop.
What was your favorite part of your birthday? Painting
Where do you like to go to eat?  Three Little Birds

Yesterday our family all ran at local run benefitting the Wildland Firefighters Association.  I ran the 1/2 marathon, Bradley ran (placed second overall) in the 10K and both boys did the 5K.  Miles and I stayed true to keeping up with that wave of relaxation by taking a three hour nap in the afternoon.  Carter mourned the Giants loss and Bradley worked on projects.  Today marked the day we took the winter cover off of the pool and worked hard to ready the outside for summer.  Here's to the end of the school year, to baseball, and to a summer of enjoying the pool and riding that Mexican wave for all it's worth.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Eight is Great!

This last Wednesday Carter turned eight years old.  Turth is, I feel that he's been eight for eight years.  He's an uber-responsible and serious kid, who often worries way too often and never runs out of commentary.  He loves his family, friends, and the San Francisco Giants.  School comes easily to him and I am constantly thankful that he is intrinsically motivated to try his best.  Carter loves baseball and the only time he's been called into my office was when he became too competitive on the playground.  When he's not under our watchful eye, he is extremely caring and loving towards his brother.  

This last week he awoke to presents wrapped in orange paper and a table decorated in MLB/Giants decor.  I even managed to make orange panckes from scratch on a school day morning! 

As per tradition, Shelley made his cupcakes and this year they were orange and black.  He enjoyed the dessert at school with his classmates.  That evening we went out to dinner with our family in Yreka.  The past two weeks he has only been able to listen to the Giants Spring Training games because we don't subscribe to television services which show those games.  He was beyond excited that the restaurant was viewing the Giants vs. Dodgers spring training game and they positioned the screen towards him.  His family was pretty impressed with his knowledge of new and current players.  

This weekend we took him, Miles, and his buddies Wyatt and Finn to Medford.  The boys began their day at the batting cages.  The three oldest kiddos are on the same Little League team and Bradley is their coach.  They cheered each other on and all smacked the balls.  

After batting practice it was on to Red Robin where the four of them were overserved Shirley Temples.  Luckily, we headed straight to the trampoline park where they were able to burn off their sugar bender in some intense games of dodge-ball.  They worked up an appetite again and once we filled our bellies the truck headed to the new Dick's Spring Goods/Field and Stream.  Since all four boys live in Scott Valley, trips to these types of stores are few and far between.  They were all armed with cash or gift cards and two hours later we emerged with a plethora of purchases.  Two bats, one set of mobile bases, four bags of Big League Bubble Gum Chew, one baseball belt, four eye greasers, an orange hunting ensemble, batting gloves, sliding shorts with a cup, and two packs of baseball cards.  

Once we got back home the boys enjoyed pizza, looking at old yearbooks belonging to their parents, and a dip in the hot tub.  They watched a movie nestled in their sleeping bags and ate popcorn.  All four of them eventually crashed at 12:30 am and awoke by 6.  Although it was a blizzard outside, they still managed to get out their baseball gear and get in an inning or two.  

The best part of it all?  I'm not exhausted.  The four of them get along so well that it's almost easy.  It's a very magical thing to have your closest friend's family so close to each member of your own family.  What better way for Carter to celebrate his birthday than to spend the weekend with his brother and buddies.  

This afternoon he took part in his annual survey.  This year he wanted to know what he said the year prior.  This year there's a lot more orange and a lot more baseball, but many consistencies between his noted friendships and values.  

Cheers to you Carter.  Cheers to being eight, the number of your favorite baseball player.  After all, eight is great.  

Name:  My name is Carter Bradley Isbell.
What is your favorite thing to do?  Play baseball with my friends Wyatt and Finn, and help my dad with projects.  
Who is your best friend?  Miles and Wyatt and Finn Hilton.
Favorite Superhero? Spiderman.
Favorite Color?  Orange
Favorite Toy?  A baseball bat.
Favorite Food?  Mac and Cheese, pork ribs, steak, french dip sandwiches, Mema's tacos, pizza
Favorite Drink?  Shirley Temple
Perfect Day?  Playing baseball.
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A major league baseball and I want to work at Scott Valley Disposal with my dad.
What will you miss about being seven?  I will miss first grade with Mrs. Dean.
What are you looking forward to about being eight? I look forward to playing Little League.
What are you really good at?  I am good at playing baseball.  
What are your chores?  Cleaning the chicken coop, putting wood on the porch, doing the recycling, and feeding the animals on the weekends. 
What makes a good person? A good person helps others, is kind, and says things that are nice. 
Favorite thing to watch?  Giants Baseball
What is your favorite thing about school?  Playing baseball at recess and taking spelling tests.
Something you can work on?  Not interrupting people.  
Anything you'd like to add about yourself?  My favorite Giant's player is Hunter Pence.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

February Surprises and Love

The month of love has kept us busy.  Besides the actual day of St. Valentine, we celebrated the 100th day of school, watched the greatest Superbowl comeback of all time, and enjoyed a four day weekend thanks to our past Presidents.  In between skiing/boarding and tending to projects around the house, the month has sped by.

Bradley and I enjoyed a weekend away with friends.  We realized that it was the first time we had actually ridden a chairlift together in years.  Our local chairlifts don't fit four and we are often paired off between kids.  Just sitting next to each other in solitude for six to eight minutes was all we needed to get in the Valentine spirit.

The boys and I have made great use out of our season passes to Mt. Shasta.  The snow has been consistent and terrific.  Bradley and I have also gotten to spend solo days on Cecilville with friends.  Fresh snow and turns contribute greatly to a positive mindset.  Our family enjoyed one day on Mt. Shasta together.  

The boys made their own Valentines for school.  Carter chose to gift a SF Giants baseball card to each classmate and Miles opted for a Nose pencil sharpener.  "Everyone Nose, I'd pick you Valentine!".  Their choices were extremely characteristic of their personalities.

I made great efforts to plan special surprises around Valentine's Day.  The kids awoke to a fully decorated table with gifts, and I made them pink heart shaped pancakes with sprinkles and strawberries cut into the shapes of hearts.  Not so special you say?  It was on a school day morning.  Extra credit points for me.  However, the best surprise for Valentine's Day came from our boys.  They had both made Valentines for each other, Bradley, me, and even our dog Mary.  The best part was that they hid them around the house and the surprises lasted all day because they couldn't recall their hiding spots.

The boys have hearts of gold and we are so blessed that they are our sons.

This weekend has been a mixture of snow, rain, and sunshine.  In between skiing/boarding, playing baseball with friends, and tending to chores around the property, it's been delightful to be at home.  It was a weekend of work and play, and the work would not have gotten done without the help of Carter.  This soon to be eight year old used the four-wheeler to pick up the leftovers from fruit tree pruning, grape cuttings, and weeds.  He used it to help clean out the chicken coop, hauled a load of wood to the porch, and transported scrap wood to the burn pile.  If he wasn't on the four-wheeler he was out throwing a baseball to a rebound net, his brother, his dad, or a friend.  Miles had a fever for part of the weekend, but truthfully his work ethic lacks in comparison to his brother.  He did vacuum my car, wash my mats off, and assist with the chicken coop.  Even if he's not the worker, he was the ringleader in the surprise Valentine's and genuinely aspires to do everything his brother does.  Let's hope that he was watching closely to all of the work that his brother accomplished.   I do know that he observes all that goes on around him.  This morning he came running to the house to hand me two eggs from the coop and exclaimed, "Nice and warm momma, fresh right outta the chicken's booty!".  At least he didn't choose to hide that surprise around the house and then forget where he hid it.

Here's to the coming of baseball season.  May we love even more, work even harder, and never forget where we leave our surprises.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017!

To all ten of my faithful blog followers I know that you must be anxious as to why I didn't make a blogpost for November OORRRR December.  I've had a steady once a month production for quite awhile now.  I'm a creature of habit, and when there's a kink in the system it can throw me off.  I typically upload my photos from my phone once a month to iPhoto via my nine year old MacBook.  Back around Thanksgiving I found out that iPhoto will no longer talk to my phone, technically iPhoto is now dead, and the fact that my computer is still alive is a miracle.  I was put into a complete tailspin.  What do I do with the years and years and years of photos I have on iPhoto and backed up to a hard drive?  What am I now going to "store" all of my photos on?  Will I make a break with iPhoto from my last  backup and simply start storing photos somewhere else?  What the hell is iCloud?  How do I access iCloud?  What about Google Photos?  I'm telling you what.  While most folks were dealing with the fall out and shock from the election, I was over here reeling from a monumental and seemingly overwhelming dilemma.  I still haven't quite solved my problem, but I'm making headway.  My plan is to back every piece of our digital history and anything new to Google Photos .  As I was making sense of this change and adapting to the new routine, the boys got a GoPro from my mom for Christmas and then I was sent into another mini-tailspin.  I don't do well with new technology.  .  .

To rewind and recap the last two months brings tears of happiness to my eyes.  Both boys were Citizens of the month at school and the teachers spoke about their responsibility, but more importantly the kindness they show to others.  Maybe not to each other, but to others.  .  .  yes.  Thanksgiving was grand.  Another successful Turkey Trot and both boys ran the three mile race.  Carter placed in his age group.
We gathered with family and were truly thankful.

That weekend we made our annual trek to get Christmas trees with the Hiltons and it was, as usual, quite the adventure.
School resumed for a few more weeks and the kids participated in various holiday activities including writing their letters to Santa, building Gingerbread houses, donating toys, performing in the bell choir in the annual Fort Jones Christmas parade (FJE got first place three years running - whoot, whoot) and the school production.  Mom and dad hosted a staff Ugly Sweater Party and then attended one in which Joy placed second in the sharpshooter BB gun ornament shooting contest.

The boys kicked off break by participating in the Ugly Sweater two mile run.  Their legs were warmed up and ready for four days of skiing/boarding during break.  We baked and decorated Christmas cookies, and enjoyed a fancy holiday meal in Ashland followed up by touring fantastic light displays in upscale neighborhoods, Christmas was celebrated with friends, cousins, the Isbell family, and a day at home with my mom.   Thinking we had accomplished it all, we made a last minute trip to the Medford Mall to meet up with Santa at Miles' request.

I truly don't think that we could have packed any more Christmas activities into the season.  While I was secretly high-fiving myself and patting my own back with each event and memory created (all while keeping my cool without copious amount of alcohol or Xanax), the most treasured moments of the season came without my prompting or planning.

On Christmas Eve the boys received a box of individually wrapped and decorated Christmas sugar cookies.  Instead of digging into them, the boys independently came up with a plan to leave the box of cookies on the porch for the FedEx and UPS drivers.  They even wrote a kind note on the top of the box thanking the drivers for all of their hard work.  Another day they continuously created gifts for each other, wrapped them up, and placed them under the tree.  Gifted brother trinkets included hand drawn SF Giants logos cut out and colored, Lego creations, and random items found around the house.  A little Aunt Bethany of them, but they wanted to give and give they did.  No amount of synchronized holiday activities, or matching holiday pajamas, could compare to the Christmas spirit shown to others.

We rang in 2017 with good friends and our families complete with pyrotechnics and a 35 pound fair turkey.  The first day of the year we spent as a family of four shredding the deep and powdery slopes of Mt. Ashland.

As we look ahead to 2017, I always like to celebrate the milestones and achievements of the last year.  In no particular order, but equally celebrated here goes:
- Bradley's planning, design, and construction of our backyard swimming pool.

- All of us enjoying the Giant's postseason, 14 inning win, over the Chicago Cubs IN PERSON!
- Carter being bat boy for his cousin's baseball team, water boy at any EHS football game they'd let him, and rocking second grade.
- Our family spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas!
- Joy traveling to Alaska to run the Skagway Marathon and placing as the top overall female finisher. (She also did her relay and a 30K)
- Miles entering Kindergarten, winning over the hearts of many, and steadily mastering his sight words.
- Joy, Miles, and Carter adventuring to Silver Bay to spend a glorious week with the Stockmeyer clan.
- Bradley catching many beautiful local fish in scenic spots with friends and family.
- Carter and Miles attending summer day camp for the first time.
- Bradley shooting another monster mountain buck and stocking our freezer with meat.

- Carter and/or Miles joining mom in running her annual runs: the Mike Schweitzer, Turkey Trot, Ugly Sweater, YMCA Cross Country Series, Mt. Shasta Fourth of July, Ugly Sweater Run, and the Mt. Ashland Hill Climb run.
- Bradley planting heritage grape plants which will yield Tempranillo grapes in the years to come.

In summary, 2016 was another great year for our family.  We are healthy, eager for adventure, love each other, and are happy, even when our photo documentation process takes a detour.  Luckily, 2017 has already proven to be a year full of resolutions.  Thank you Google.