I guess I've been to Wheeler Farm, but I don't remember it. Fair enough - I wouldn't want to drag 6 young kids to a place like this either, especially with moody teenagers at one end and crazy toddlers at the other.
In any case, it was fun to actually see it and remember it! When we were up in Utah this past weekend, Mav got to go with his cousin, Elodie, and they had a lot of fun together.
She's dressed in her cute skeleton costume and he's wearing a skeleton t-shirt, so they pretty much match ;-)
As far as toddlers go, people seem pretty convinced that girls are more mentally driven and boys are more physical. According to my mom, I broke the mold on that one by being a nut-job little girl, so between Danny and I there was really no hope that Mav was going to be a calm, relaxed sort of toddler. Things like this:
...are not unusual sights in this house. Walking across the arms of the couch, jumping from heights far too advanced for his age, and running way too fast into certain danger are standard behaviors for this little boy. But he's not atypical in this, as I've learned over the last few weeks. See, two weeks ago, he was running really, really fast. And he stopped very, very quickly when he ran into the corner of the CD cabinet. His head swelled instantly and we had to watch for concussion symptoms (which I remembered from Micah's incident).
The next morning, he did it again, same spot on his forehead, against a wall. In seconds, his head looked like this:
I ask you, how do you not panic?! This picture doesn't even do it justice. Every time he even brushed against it, it got bigger. I finally took him into the clinic. They sent us to the ER, who sent us home with instructions we already knew. "Watch for throwing up a lot, disorientation, etc, etc." Got it.
Luckily, he's been completely fine, he just looks awful. The bump has gone down but it's still there, and all of the fluid has seeped down into his eyes, giving him 2 black eyes.
Everyone that sees him just gives a little chuckle and says "Yep, that's a boys for you."
I think I'm in for a lot of ER visits with this kid...
When we got home from the last Utah trip on July 5th, we got half a dozen texts from people asking us if we lived through the big dust storm.
You mean the half a minute of wind we barely noticed hitting our windows when we were watching TV?
After watching the videos of it I was shocked. We missed a WALL of dust?! How did we do that?!
Frankly, I was disappointed. A massive tower of wind and dust and the only evidence it came through at all is a thin film of dirt on Danny's car? Not that I wanted felled trees or broken windows, but there was nothing!
I had finally gotten over my deep, soul-crushing sadness over missing this when I got a second chance. Monday night Danny, Maverick, and I were driving down Thunderbird toward the 17 (for some of you that means nothing, but it's kinda in the middle of the valley) when what we thought was just storm clouds turned into this:
And here, due to lighting, a far more dramatic representation (This one kinda looks like the cloud in Independence Day that's hiding the alien ships' initial arrival. Just without the fire and aliens inside.):
These pictures can't even begin to portray how huge this thing feels. Remember that scene in The Mummy where the tiny little plane is swallowed by the sand storm? Yeah, it's like that! But I don't think this one was started by an angry, curse driven zombie. Could be wrong. Just a hunch.
These storms are, apparently, pretty rare down here. They're a phenomenon called a haboob (no, I didn't make that up) that only happen in a select few places in the world including AZ and the Middle East. It's part of the monsoon weather (which is a technical term for heavy rains due to weather patterns of some such or another - not just a panicked term we here in AZ call any old rainstorm because they're such foreign, inexplicable things in our sunny desert!) and it has to have very specific conditions to occur.
Did it occur to us to turn around? Not really. How often do you get the chance to outrun a dust storm literally the size of Phoenix?! It was like driving in fog. The particles are so fine it's not like you hear it hitting the windshield or tearing at the car. It's dust, not sand or dirt. So it really didn't "feel" like anything.
The coolest part that isn't in the video is driving out of it. I took this picture to show the difference:
See the brown in the rearview? See the blue ahead? Yeah, that quickly things went from murky and dark to clear and bright.
It was actually really pretty.
On a side note, there was some destruction "near" to us. Our friends Nick and CJ were in the hospital having just welcomed their brand new baby boy, Wyatt, the day before when the dust storm blew their room's window in! Nick had to grab it before it fell on the baby! Scary!
I still cut the crust off my sandwiches (they're gross!).
I love Gushers, Pop Tarts, and most things fake but delicious that I know I shouldn't eat but I do anyway.
And I tend to get inordinately excited over the silliest things.
Case in point: Not a month after we moved down here to Phoenix we got a zoo membership and have already been there a couple of times. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when I got that little pass in the mail! I can go to the zoo as much as I want? Heaven!
I have always loved going to the zoo and aquariums. I had the typical childhood fantasy of becoming a biologist of some sort (Marine biologist was the front runner until I realized that involved a lot of time underwater - no thank you!) and spending my days up to my armpits in smelly, wonderful animals. Once I decided to be a mom instead of a scientist (Was it really ever on the table? Yeah, not really, but it's a nice thought.), I knew that my love for animals was one big way I could connect with my toddler.
Yep. I'm still kind of a toddler, too, I guess.
The zoo is so much fun with Mav! He's so curious. I don't know how much he sees or understands yet, but he gets very interested in certain animals (the giant Komodo Dragon, for instance) and just stares in stunned silence - a feat not often accomplished with our little chatterbox!
Here's my boys, having fun together:
This is why Phoenix Zoo is so cool: you get so close to the animals! In the picture above you can kinda see a spider monkey just to the left of Mav's turned head. In that exhibit you're actually walking in and around the monkeys! How cool is that? They just tell you to not touch the monkeys or pretty much anything in the enclosure because they pee on everything. Below you can see how cool the cheetahs' exhibit is and the new orangutan exhibit. They've got 4 in there, including this funny little guy:
Lastly, for Grandpa Holmgren, an adorable koala that we were lucky we got to see since he and his friend were on their last day at the zoo:
Mav is a stud. He decided he wanted to help Danny train for his triathlons, so he came up with this idea. I think if he can ever get over sitting with that helmet on for more than 10 minutes this will be mutually beneficial!
First they had to get the bike ready, so he helped pump up the tires.
This is only half bad news, so I'll start with the good: Gibbs is on the mend! He's sounding much better and has his energy back.
The bad news? Now Sparrow has it.
Tell me again how totally and completely different it is to have dogs rather than kids?
Anyway, the vet said that since it spread from Gibbs to Sparrow, he's more sure than ever that it IS NOT Valley Fever. The odds of them getting it at the same time having rarely left their yards are astronomical. This is just your run-of-the-mill bacterial infection. So that makes me feel better! Just a couple weeks of antibiotics for both of them and we should be good!
I don't like having sick pups. They're just so...sad...
For those of you that may not know him well, Gibbs is the sort of dog that looks like he's got the wisdom of the ages in his soul - up until anything walks past our window, then he's a fiercely dedicated watchdog, no doubt shouting all manner of obscenities at that potential assassin. With Mav he's an absolute pushover who lets the toddler crawl all over him, step on him, and pull his ears and lips without a single sound or movement of protest. He's incredibly sweet, loving, and generally well-behaved.
He's also been the victim of an onslaught of unfortunate situations since we moved down here to Phoenix.
First, last Friday night Danny noticed Gibbs' lip was a little swollen. When he took a closer look, he saw light through the lip. Our dog had a hole you could pass a pen through in his big, floppy lip! I was appalled. I had been home almost all day with him and hadn't heard a peep or seen a thing. We took him to a new vet recommended by friends and he basically told us there's no way to know what happened and really no way to fix it except with time and patience. If they sewed it up, Sparrow would just rip the stitches out and probably cause more damage. So we cleaned it out a few times (with weak tea, which I'd never heard of using before) and he went on antibiotics for a few weeks while it closed up.
We still suspect this one had something to do with it:
Doesn't she look suspicious?
The second ordeal started on Saturday with a little cough that escalated to a horrible, gut-wrenching hack by Sunday night and by Monday he couldn't eat. The vet told us there was the possibility of Valley Fever. He told us this with the obvious expectation that we would be thoroughly alarmed, but since we aren't from around here and it's a local ailment, we were clueless. I guess it's like a really bad cold that humans and dogs can contract from spores. If left unchecked, the sickness can be pretty dangerous. But he wasn't 100% sure, so Gibbs is just back on some antibiotics and a cough suppressant for now.
I'm obsessed with baking. It just makes me happy to create something that is delicious and pretty and takes a little time and effort to produce. It lets me release a little steam (if I've got it) and it relaxes me. I'm not saying, by any means, that I'm a good baker, only that I enjoy it.
The other day I decided to try my hand at detailed frosting. I've done a couple easier techniques before, like buttercream and this fun one with just glaze frosting:
But trying to make specific shapes with colored goo is a whole new ball game. Besides my lack of hand-eye-coordination (think about my handwriting, people!), I didn't own any kind of decorating tools. I didn't want to buy any (I'm just that cheap), so I had to figure out a new trick. My solution? A syringe we got from the vet! It sounds a little weird (and possibly quite gross, depending on your tolerance levels - I promise it was thoroughly sterilized) but it was perfect! It was small and had a long, curved tip that allowed me a lot of control. So, with it, I was able to do this:
Not perfect, but not bad for a first timer! The Star Wars cutters are from my mom. She found them at Williams-Sonoma and I LOVE them! Not to mention the recipe that came with them is amazing!
So there's my confession. I'm a baker married to a triathlete. Probably a good thing, or I'd be 300 pounds by now...
Mav is trying to talk. He's made Mama and Dada sounds for a long time now, but things have turned sincere. He's mimicking our words and sounds! I know what you're all thinking:
"Uh-oh, Maddie. If he's mimicking you, what horrible words is he trying to say?"
Well, he has yet to let loose with a swear, but I'm sure the day is coming and we'll cross that bridge then.
In the meantime, his favorite word lately is "DAD!" Not just a oh-hey-dad Dad, but a rather urgent I-must-find-him-this-very-second Dad! I attribute this to Danny working normal-people hours, something he hasn't had to do very often throughout Mav's life, so Mav had a week or so of adjusting.
When we were appliance shopping last Saturday, whenever Danny was out of sight for even a second, Mav would scream at the top of his lungs "DADDADDADDADDAD!!!" until he returned! This was especially amusing in the rather empty warehouse we visited as it seemed to echo on and on.
His other favorite word right now is "Baby." This is what he says when he wants to cuddle and it's adorable! He reaches up and starts crooning "Baaeeebbeee... Baaaeebbee..." until you pick him up. Then he burrows into you and keeps singing his Baby Song and it just melts you right away.
I've also found it helps when he's yelling really loud at inappropriate moments (as toddlers are wont to do). I just say "Baby" and he gets all soft and wistful.
Due to the move down to Phoenix, we celebrated Mav's birthday a week early (which was his original due date, oddly enough). These are some pictures from his party!
We got this outfit for him while on our cruise in Mexico. It was hard won, but sooo worth it – it’s so freaking cute! It’s really hard to get two tiny kids to look up at the same time! But aren’t they adorable together? Yay pirate birthday!! Opening presents… Grandma Great! Group shot as they sing Happy Birthday He didn’t quite know what to do with such a large chunk of food, so this was his solution: Dad tries to help: Eventually, Danny just smashed his hand into it and Mav finally figured it out! Took the dogs a little while, but they got it all cleaned up!