Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A New Season

Well, well, well... Looky here. This week marks the first time I have had regular time without a child in tow for nearly 11.5 years, the last two of which were incredibly concentrated time with all 3. To my great surprise, I am in a state of rehabilitation.


  1. All by my lonesome in a vehicle that seats 8, you will find me driving down the highway in the HOV lane. It is not until I have to leave the lane to exit the highway that I realize I've been using it unlawfully. 
  2. On numerous occasions, the heart-wrenching guilt that I'm dwindling away my children's ever fleeting youth has snatched me when I've realized that I've been hiding in the bathroom on my phone for an inordinate amount of time. I wonder how long it will be before I realize that I no longer have to use the bathroom for anything other than what it was intended while the kids are being properly engaged by adults other than myself.
  3. My thoughts have returned to me. Well, sort of. They are easing me back in nice and slow. I have been coping with the influx of thoughts by taking refuge in Harry Potter, guilt-free (refer to number 2). When suddenly barraged by an onslaught of questions regarding my coffee order at Starbucks, I am much more equipped to answer with something other than "uhhhhhh.....what?"
  4. Once upon a time I liked to write. Today, I spelled here (as in the preposition) hear (as in the verb). One would think that homeschooling sharpens such skills. This is what happens when my brain is on multitasking. Long live single tasking. Amen. 
  5. Grocery shopping alone, I look over my shoulder constantly in search for straggling children to make sure they are following me. Also, every time a fellow shopper approaches, I call out "single file" so that they may pass through the aisle unobstructed by my children tickling/chasing/mean-mugging/laughing, singing, and dancing with/hiding from/funny face competing/poking each other. 
I have been truly blessed to recognize the limited time I have with our sweet babies. Although we are all missing each other dearly, the transition has been smooth and relatively seamless, proving that my fretting was done in vain. Growing pains, I suppose.


“I sustain myself with the love of family.” | Maya Angelou


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dog Sitting

Meet Samantha. She is a slightly overweight, quirky, affectionate 5 year old chocolate lab. Her social skills and walking skills need a little work, but otherwise she is the perfect doggy. I thought I'd be a regular ole Caesar Milan dog owner, but Sam is exposing all my "negative energy" as the Whisperer would describe it. When it comes to the Myer Briggs test, I am a true middle-of-the-roader thinking/feeling gal, and I have been reminded many times of that fact this week as a pet sitter. 

Ellie styling Sam's hair... an almost daily occurrence this week.

Sam and "his" stylist. Ellie can't get over the fact that this girl dog has a "boy" name. I promise we haven't taught her that. Also take note of Ellie's outfit. Jake and the Neverland Pirates is her current favorite show and Izzy the girl pirate wears a pink top and purple tights. You will find Ellie in this outfit twice a week.

I'm not saying this was Sam, but someone chewed this poor little fairy's feet off. It very well could have been Molly the beagle who was visiting over Easter weekend. Come to think of it, it was probably Molly. Sam would have eaten her whole if she was really interested.  This fairy was promoted to Queen of the Fairy Garden.

Sam puts up with constant touching of the face, tail, ears, eyebrows and lashes all day. She plops herself down everywhere we go. Spooning is one of her favorite pastimes and most of us are happy to oblige. Bella's skin is a little intolerant of Sammy's coat, but even she will put up with the occasional hive just to be near Sam. This dog can sniff out a tennis ball no matter where it is hidden. I didn't realize we had 3 stray tennis balls in our house until she became obsessed with it. I feared each time that I'd find a scorpion or lizard where she sniffed and pawed, but all three times it was a tennis ball. Sam has weaseled her way out of her crate at night and into our bedroom (with the help of her temporary mom and her big brown eyes).




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Me date.

I know I just posted, but I have an entire hour (or so) to do what I please.

Objective: Skype with a friend
Plan:
- feed the kids
-explain to them that I'm going on a friend date, that they need to pretend I'm not home, and need to direct all questions and conversation to their father or each other, unless of course there's blood or fire
-have kids do chores
-have kids shower
-kids eat dessert on their own
-kids pick a Netflix movie to watch
-dad puts kids to bed

Although dad hasn't come home from the hospital yet, the plan is going perfectly and kids are happily watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua. My friend needed to reschedule due to a nasty cold and I'm tempted to join the kids in laughter with some mindless doggy talking TV. It occurs to me that my they are old enough and self sufficient enough that we could execute this exact plan every so often so that I could have a date with myself. What would I do?

In a less exhausting month I'd probably sew a little. I'd like to sew more, it's just a pain in the rear to get it all out for an hours worth of sewing just to have to clean it all up again. Whenever I say I want to live in less than 500 square feet of space on at least 10 acres, please remind me that I need more space for sewing and books. Tonight I really just want to tuck the kids in bed all peaceable, take a shower, and read in bed. The only issue is that my current reading material makes my brain work extra hard. I'm reading my first ever Shakespeare play. How I got through K-12 and was never exposed to such rich literature is beyond me, but that's besides the point.

Guess who just rolled up?? Yes, my dear husband. Must hop off to tackle him with a hug and kiss.

Hummus

A small tub of hummus on sale in our area is about $3. Our littlest can put away a small tub of hummus in two sittings all on her own. We can easily eat a tub of hummus a day everyday of the week. My thrifty self couldn't justify spending all that money on something we eat fairly regularly, so I hopped over to Sprouts and bought sesame seeds for tahini, some garbanzo beans, and ground cumin. For an hour I labored over my stove top and my 2 cup mini food processor. The result was a beautifully crafted original hummus that I was quite pleased with. Ellie, she can't stand to touch it. What the hay, man? It tastes, in my opinion, no different from the stuff you buy in a tub at the grocery store. 
Her and I will make a trip to the grocery store sometime this week to buy a tub of hummus. When I bring it home, the store bought stuff with come out of the container and replaced with the homemade stuff. When she starts scooping it out by the spoonfuls and eats it like ice cream, I will point a stiff finger and exclaim loudly "HA! THAT'S THE HOMEMADE STUFF!" to which she will likely start turning her nose upward to the sky while the corner of her lips turn downward in pure hummus-snooty disgust. Or, if I'm lucky, she simply won't believe me and continue eating her store bought goodness. The End. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

If I were an animal, I might be a sloth.

Yesterday I bought a book and spent 5 of my awake hours reading it in its entirety. Today I stared at the mound of citrus sitting on our kitchen counter for an unspeakable amount of time, allowing the sight to bring me tremendous pleasure in knowing that we can feed our kids nutritious food on a very tight budget. I laid in bed reading the news from 2p-3p, got up and made delicious boba smoothies for me and the kids, hooked up my new and utterly amazing birthday hammock in the backyard, then fell asleep in it for half an hour. We read and played on the floor at the public library for 2 hours. The world (and by world I mean my extremely limited exposure to it, so basically America) seems to toil endlessly to get ahead. Apparently, I am becoming polarized and fighting the trend. I’m even happily accepting my “extra” weight, calling my post children body a soft place to rest a weary head. Tis the season to delve into childhood and embrace it wholly… room temperature coffee and all. At what other time in my life will I be able to so freely behave like a child discovering her world for the first time and get away with it? Grandmahood? I sure as heck hope so.

There’s so much I’d like to write about and so little time to form my thoughts into written words. Throughout my day I think of sentences or beautiful ideas to journal about, but by the time I get to a pen and paper or the computer, I blank.

Bella will start a formal writing course next year and I am psyched to be learning alongside her. In my opinion, it is what my education lacked most. Everyone, no matter what profession you choose, needs to be able to represent themselves through spoken and written words. Written words need formal teaching; there’s no faking your way to well written. I wish I could. I am super self-conscious about misspelled words and run-on sentences and missed punctuation and all sorts of other writing things.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said these words to my kids: “Don’t say you’re not good at something. You get good at things with practice.”

So, I’m going to practice writing.

Like, intensively. Maybe. If I can stick with it.

If you’re lucky (or unlucky), you will get to hear my thoughts via the blog. But sometimes I will write in my journal or on scrap paper or on the white board. Sometimes I will speak my words and visualize them. I don’t really have any short term vision with this whole process (or with much of anything really, I’m more of a big picture thinker), but in 10 years or so I’d like to sit down and let words flow out of me like water from a faucet. Do you know why I don’t blog often? It takes me FOR.EV.ER. to write even the shortest of blogs. And, I think about my audience constantly and how it might fall on their ears (er, eyes), which is ridiculously hard to do when you’ve got an audience greater than 1 and you’re not even sure who is reading your blog to begin with.

Anyway. I need a memoir of the good and the gritty of raising up a family, so I think the blog is a great place to practice writing.  


Since I’m still wide awake (nap in hammock, member?) I think I’ll go and organize some bookshelves like a total geek. Don’t judge. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Christmas 2013

Part of our Christmas, wildly out of order. I haven't tried uploading my iPhone photos to our HP desktop for fear that the world will stop revolving, but the photos you're missing are those of our Christmas/Mom's Bday in Tucson. There was cake, there were presents, there were 4 children and 4 chihuahuas, there was laughter. Our December was packed to the brim with family and old friends and we are grateful to be making memories in our new home with them.


Ellie is in love with TY's Beanie Boos. She acquired quite the collection on Christmas.

Besitos (kisses)  for cousin in Tacoma, WA on Christmas morning via FaceTime.
Gotta love technology.

The littlest speaking quietly to her newest babies.

Christmas Eve nap before the festivities begin. Does life get any sweeter than a babe peacefully sleeping? 

Our sweet girl on Christmas morning. She is really into drawing, sewing, and knitting this year.  

Jacob eager to play with his new toys. Have you seen those perplexus mazes? That toy kept my men folk mighty busy.
                                                 

My heart.

Christmas morning hike up the mountains.

Our parent's doggies love to visit us too! Maggie May (on the left) and Molly (right) are such wonderful doggies. 

Our little Lukey! Love that face. 

Luke fits right in to our stair step kiddos. Bella 9, Jacob 7, Luke 5, Ellie 3. It warms my heart to watch them all play together. 

Our Sister getting some Ellie love.

McCormick Stillman Railroad Park to ride trains, look at lights and mini trains, and eat ice cream:) PS the kids aren't super tall, my sister is just miniature. 

Our favorite spot to take photos on our hike, in case you didn't recognize it. 

More trains.

3 trips to McCormick Stillman Railroad Park. We've had an unusually warm winter, but there were a few "cold" nights. We still ate ice cream:)

Christmas Eve at Albert's Aunt Laurie's house. I wish I had taken more photos. Albert's Grandma Naomi is one of the sweetest, most hilarious ladies alive.

Christmas Story. 

A very special treat to spend Christmas eve and day with Grandma Donna and Grandpa Emilio. Since infancy, the children have loved reading in their Grandma's lap. 

Christmas Morning! I can't get over their sweetness. Precious little people. 

Christmas photo shoot. We live very close to the McDowell Mountains and are blessed to have views like these everyday.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

A New Computer

Our sweet old Mac died after a great 5 year run. There's only so much the Mayo laptop doctors and duct tape can do to prolong its life. Our archaic Dell filled in beautifully for the last couple months for the kid's school work and the occasional photo upload, but with memory smaller than my own brain's capacity (22gb) I was pretty limited. Still, there's no real good excuse for not posting the occasional hello here.
I'd like to welcome the new addition to our electronic family: an HP TouchSmart all-in-one desktop. This is the best part... for a low price of 237 buckaroos!! What?!
It was a floor model marked down from $829 to $537 with an additional 10% off since it was missing the manual. It rang up at $261 to the manager's and our surprise. As Albert and I enthusiastically high five each other in the middle of Sam's Club with 3 very confused children at our side, the manager continues to knock the price down by honoring the 10% discount. Triple score. And happy dance ensues.

So, what have the Gutierri been up to? Here's a quick top 5.

1) Settling in. Hallelujah! It takes me time to warm up to change and we have had a whole mess of it this year so you can only imagine how un-normal I felt. It's the simple things like being able to walk around in the dark in our rental without stubbing my toe every 6 inches that puts this woman at ease.

2) Visit from The Picker Family! Jen and her most wonderful husband and children spent four days with us this month. The details and pics of their visit will come in another post. Their visit was food for my soul, food I've been snacking on since they've left. My heart is so happy.

3) Bella is officially in double digits... how that happened, Lord only knows. I look away for a moment and she's grown a foot. I have a ten year old. TEN. Let that sink in for a moment. Ten. We always have some sort of New Year's Eve celebrations for her birthday and this year we had Karen and Greg Hintermeister from Rochester join us. Their youngest son and Bella were classmates in Rochester so Karen and I got to know each other a little while volunteering at school. They were here for a short getaway and graciously took time out of their trip to spend an evening with us. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and look forward to their next trip out to the Valley!

4) Jacob turned 8! We're driving down to Tucson for the Gem and Mineral Show next weekend... a birthday dream he's had for the last 4 years. This show is the largest of its kind in the world and a rock hound's dream. It is an event I looked forward to as a child and now get to share with my kiddos...very excited.

5) I think we've found our new church home. I joined a women's Bible study and that's darn near close to signing in ink in Krista language. The Messages on Sundays are clear, concise, on point, challenging, simple, and completely Jesus focused. There are plenty of weathered faces, pudgy little faces, and everything in between. The worship is gripping and diverse. The church offers so much to young and growing families; not a necessity, but a very welcomed benefit, especially during our Residency years.

6) Because it is probably the most best thing to ever happen to Scottsdale ever in the history of ever... Blimpie's at Scottsdale Pavillion now serves (drumroll please)..... EEGEE'S!!!!!! Excuse me while I thank God for bringing the best things to my new home.

The End.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Papa Murphy's

Last night we ate Papa Murphy's for the first time in FIVE months. The kids and I ate to our hearts' content and say what you will about emotional eating, it made us all so very happy, happy, happy. That's a long time to go without your favorite pizza. I can remember the last time we had it: our load-the-moving-truck party. Since I save our limited eating out allowance for amazing Pho, it was not on my radar to look up the nearest Papa Murphy's. During our Rochester years (read: very low mortgage payments and access to lots of student loans) we ate out all.the.time. Let's face it, my kitchen was too tiny to cook in 7 days a week and I was pregnant or nursing or volunteering or studying or crafting or [insert any number of things other than grocery shop and cook and clean up afterward]. Eating out is so much easier. Anyway, the nearest Papa's is a 5 minute drive and just moved in to the area the same exact month we moved in. God knew I'd need a Papa's nearby. Best thing about it is that since they are trying to promote their business they are very generous with coupons and promotions. I'm going to take one of my friend's traditions of eating Papa Murphy's every Friday and watching a family movie and make it my own. It's the little things that make this transition easier.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sweet Smelling Sweat

We had ice cream from Culver's and a short trip to a new park today. On the way home I overhear this short conversation:

Jacob: I can smell myself. My sweat smells good.

Bella: (quietly) Your sweat smells good?

Jacob: (sniffs himself loud enough for me to hear all the way up in the front seat) Ya, it smells like cake. And armpits. It smells good.

Yep. We're that family.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Longest 20 Seconds of the Week

The weather is crazy beautiful in AZ this week. Chilly in the mornings, sunny and 70's by afternoon, cool and breezy at night.

This week the kids got their solos for their choir's fall concerts and have been practicing all week long. The director is amazing and does all this extra work for this ministry out of the kindness of her heart, and I can't even begin to imagine how insanely busy she is between home schooling her kids and managing this ministry. That being said, she goofed up Bella's solo. She assigned the wrong solo to Bella via email so when it came time for her solo she was completely shocked. Luckily, it was just practice, but if you know my introverted, type A, perfectionist firstborn child, this was terrifying. Why couldn't she have goofed Jacob's instead? There she stood in front of 30 peers with a microphone in her hand and her teacher coaxing her to sing a solo which she had fervently practiced all week long just to have the completely wrong verse! Okay, now imagine her mother's terror as I stood at the back of the room filming this scene for her father. Those crazy mother thoughts started rolling in....

"Oh man, I can not wait to show this to Albert when he gets home! This is so entertaining!" TOTALLY KIDDING! This is what I would have thought if it were Jacob instead of Bella, because in the word's of the great Sy Robertson, Jacob's "like an owl... [he] don't give a hoot!"

Seriously, here were the mile-a-minute thoughts:

"Stop! Stop! Stop! This is all wrong! YOU assigned the wrong words!"

"Oh Snap! Just grab the kids and run. These people don't really know us anyway."

"I should stop filming. Wait, no, if I stop then she'll know something's wrong. Just keep smiling and thumbs upping her."

"Maybe she's just fine and I'm overreacting."

"Lord, I pray she doesn't cry."

"Why did I encourage them to take solos?"

"Failing in front of large groups is just a rite of passage, right?"

"Don't pass your own emotions onto your children."

"It's all my fault. I should have double checked. This verse didn't play twice in the original song, I should have known."

This solo was TEN MINUTES LONG! I could have passed out and woken up and the dang thing would still be going on. Luckily, it wasn't the last song they practiced so I had time to gather my thoughts and observe Bella before the danger of making an irrational decision. I decided the only benefit in mentioning the goof was to save face (mine and Bella's) which is totally selfish. I don't know the director well, but I do know she has the biggest heart for these children and the orphans around the world (this song "No Orphans" is the key song for the ministry after all). I know she would have felt terrible about it, and to me, saying "WE REALLY DID PRACTICE AND BELLA IS AMAZING AT HER ORIGINAL SOLO!" was not worth making this sweet woman feel bad. I decided to pull Bella in real close, rub her back gently, and whisper in her ear. It went a little something like this:

"Hey Bella?"
"Ya Mom?"
"Ms. Angelique accidentally assigned you the wrong solo, huh?"
"Yeah."
"I am so sorry you worked so hard practicing those lines just to be surprised with different words. Sometimes those mistakes happen. You know what though? You did AWESOME! I am so proud of you for improvising and winging the new words. You are so much braver than I ever was! It was like you had been practicing those correct words all week long and I couldn't even tell you were confused and I bet nobody else could either, it was THAT good!"
"Really?"
"Yep!"
"I was so nervous I was shaking" she says with a smile on her face.

She saw me filming and thought I was snapping pictures. She asked many times that night to see the pictures and I kindly said no and quickly distracted her. The last request I snapped and said "NO! It's time for bed anyway." I was afraid she'd see the reality of the situation and notice that she didn't sing it perfectly and be terribly embarrassed. I wanted her to believe that nobody else in that room even noticed she didn't know her solo perfectly. I was afraid to watch it myself.

After the kids were tucked in, Albert grabs my phone and starts scrolling through my pictures, something he does periodically to catch himself up on our happenings. Then I remember our fiasco and the video. I tell him the story and we watch the clip.

"She did great!" Albert says.

video



Yes, she DID do great! And it really only lasted a few seconds? Really?

"Yes, but, you know Bella. She was already nervous about getting up in front of the class and having all eyes on her, so this must have been REALLY bad for her." That is the truth and I can say that confidently because nobody knows their child like a mother does.

"Man. That child is braver than I am." I'm realizing that being in that situation and overcoming it (in style at that!) was one of the best lessons she could ever have. We can't always protect them, but we can prepare them with awesome tools like flexibility, being confident in your best, and a good healthy sense of humor.

"She did practice the whole song many times over, of course she was going to be fine." Why didn't this run through my head when it was happening?

There's a fine line between allowing your children to experience their emotions on their own and guiding them to cope with difficulties in a healthy manner. It's also really hard to decide what healthy coping actually is as a 29 year old youngin' like myself. While I want to be careful not to impose what I think healthy emotional responses are, I do realize that by birthright they are Gutierri and they will likely deal with these kinda things like their parents do. After experiencing firsthand how our daughter handled one of her fears, I guess mostly I'm okay with them turning out like their old folk.




Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Habits

I was reading my 1,000 Gifts book by Ann Voskamp last night and she quoted a really smart person. I could go get the book and find out exactly what the quote said and who said it, but that would entail me getting out of bed and I'm pretty sure my backside glued itself to the mattress. The quote said that it takes a nail to drive out a nail, a habit to replace a habit. Nothing profound, but so profound to me. My daily life is so much busier than it has ever been in my ENTIRE life now that I'm schooling a 4th grader, a second grader, and a preschooler. If things are gonna run like a well oiled Tahoe, I need to replace some old habits with new ones. Note that I didn't call them "bad" habits, because truthfully I wouldn't constitute sleeping until 9am as a bad habit. Some are bad habits, but most just don't fit in with my new lifestyle.

Here are my top habit swapping projects: going to bed earlier, waking up earlier, planning meals more than 2 minutes ahead of time, exercising even just a little, scheduling time to do the things I love, scheduling period.

The biggest and most important habit swapping is my attitude. I took Ann's idea of naming all of God's gifts (much like Adam named the animals God created) everyday until it becomes a habit of gratitude. We start with the seemingly trivial gifts, ones we don't often recognize daily. Things like golden sunlight hitting strands of cocoa colored hair and the soft hum of a dishwasher. The idea is that by giving His gifts names we'll become more aware of and grateful for them.  This idea is also reiterated by Dr. Amit Sood in his Book, which is gruelingly painful to read, but good to have on your bookshelf nonetheless. Dr. Sood is the director of complimentary and integrative medicine at Mayo Rochester. His theory is that when we focus our attention and learn to positively interpret life we are capable of training our brain to naturally recognize good, all of which decreases stress and gives more peace and joy. His work brings me back to these words every time:

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 

and also this:

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

It's insanely hard to focus in this sort of way when you've got 3 people talking at you and dinner to get on the table while folding clothes and knitting dolly hats and lesson planning and trying to keep a 3 year old's play dough filled hands out of the science experiment, but today was a little better than yesterday and hopefully tomorrow will be better than today. The triumphs seem like tiny little anthills, but collectively they are mountains. When I started this brain training years ago I usually used it for emergencies, like when I was at the end of my rope. I missed the whole point of it. Gratitude is a lifelong habit to develop, a habit that replaces discontentment, ungratefulness. Today I'm grateful for people who live courageously grateful for life and all God's glory. I know that even they have at some point struggled to maintain a grateful heart. 

Good night readers, its high time I replaced a late bedtime with an earlier one.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

iPhone Post

I'm doing this from my phone so forgive me if a random autocorrect turns something into a Spanish word.

Top 5:

1: We're obsessed with Duck Dynasty, for too many reasons to list. For one, I'm half redneck, just ask my mom and she'll tell ya. Two, they are hilarious. Three, faith, family, and facial hair. Four, their love of the great outdoors. I could go on.

2: Albert has worked too many hours in the last 5 days. I know us resident families are supposed to be a tough breed, but no matter how long we've been in training we just can't get used to the long hours. He misses us, we miss him, we miss not having anything to do. I am really grateful this is temporary. All we can do is laugh at the chaos and make the most of the time we do have.

3: The big kids started choir and it rocks. Jacob gets a little distracted, but otherwise we all love it.

4: The weather has dropped to the 90's! Hallelujah!

5: I am learning to knit. Is there anything we can't learn on our own nowadays with YouTube and endless tutorials? Thank you, Al Gore, for creating the WWW.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Camping and Community

     We are heading North to Red Rock Country for some camping in the morning. Since this is what happened on our last trip:

we decided we'd get a new tent. After much deliberation, we decided on this tent. This was not Albert's first choice, but I won the case with "I want to fit a ton of family and friends in it." Plus, his first choice was not in stock anywhere in the city which means we'd have to camp in the holey tent one more time. It looks easy enough to set up on my own, has great ventilation for those hot summer nights, a room divider, tub floor that's welded, steel poles, and a hinged door for easy in and out. Definitely can't hike into the hills with this beast, but great for car camping, which is all we do anyway because I'm kind of a wimp. I'll give you the full scoop when it sees it's first downpour of rain. 

     We're packing swimsuits for swimming in the creek, fishing poles, digging toys, and lots of easy food. I'm beyond excited, except for one thing... setting up camp for just one night. Our packing is slowly becoming streamlined. We buy basically the same camp food and pack the same utensils and gear. The kids' "homework" was the meal planning and packing their own clothes, both of which they did great! Eventually I'd like to have everything we need in a couple of totes so we can just throw it in the Tahoe and go. 

     Being able to camp in the middle of September without a heated mattress pad is definitely a perk to living in Arizona. This state is truly beautiful with so much to explore. There are so many mountains and canyons and rims and plateaus and lakes and streams that sometimes I forget that we're actually in the desert. The desert can be bland and ugly, but the desert in our parts is beautiful! We have whole mountains filled with our signature Saguaro Cactus and many, many other variety of yellow and green cacti. The desert trees don't really compare to Minnesota's broad leaf trees, but they're interesting enough and provide shade and homes to birds. Our storms are magnificent, and I won't even torture you with the details of our sunsets. They are pull-over-and-cry-in-your-car worthy. 

     The only thing missing is a community, but that comes with time. We (I) lucked out in this move, SBS provided me an instant friend who moved to Scottsdale just to be my friend:) Kidding, of course, but Rebecca, her handsome boy Nolan, and hilarious dogs have filled our hearts with much needed companionship during this transition.  My sister-in-love and amazing nephew moved back to Tucson (where we all grew up, just 2 hours south of us) when my brother was deployed last month and having her nearby is so comforting to us. The Wie Family, also a resident family with 3 kids and ones we have known since before any of us were even married, have provided much laughter and camaraderie. Our friends and family who are still in the desert and we've kept in touch with have been such a blessing to us. The random visits have filled our temporary home with memories that will bring us many smiles when we revisit them. I'm also happy to share that I think we found a church home. Bella described her morning as "the first real successful Sunday since we got here." God provides. 

     I hope you all have a great, encouraged filled week. Much love, reader.

     

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fishing, and Other Randomness

    
From Labor day weekend: Albert and his bff since JH about to help Jacob fly.

Because I love random pictures, I will be posting many older photos that come up in my photo app. I was testing out a moby I made on a very hesitant toddler. I wonder if she'd let me put her in one now?

Ellie chose a Spiderman pole. It failed miserably so we had to return it and get a plain, non-superhero one. Bummer.

Reeled in one of Dad's fish. He is one determined little man.

Caught some algae which she likened to the algae kombucha I drank earlier in the week. Their sense of humor is coming along nicely, thanks to their inappropriate parents. Notice she's wearing a hoodie?? Praise God for a nice rainy day.


     This week was spent mostly outdoors. Albert's schedule is a little screwy this month so we took full advantage of his days off. Homeschooling has allowed us complete flexibility of our schedule and this week we are grateful for all the time we've spent together.
    
     The kids are doing an impromptu, interest-led unit study on fish, and I was honestly getting sick of being walled in, so we picked up some fishing rods and went fishing. Twice. For hours at a time. On Monday it rained the entire 3.5 hours we were there and we experienced a huge benefit of living in Scottsdale... amazing parks. This park had trees and ramadas to protect from the elements (mostly sun, but on the rare occasion, rain), amazingly clean bathrooms, and REAL GREEN grass. I should stop complaining about Scottsdale being so "uppity" because I benefit from the "uppity-ness" nearly everyday. More on that later.

     Although they didn't catch anything on either of the days, they managed to stay super enthusiastic about fishing. None of them got bored. I grew up fishing and I remember being bored a lot- waiting is a fine art. None of them needed reprimanding, only guiding. I didn't get a single complaint the entire time. They all worked together beautifully. It was like I was in a novel written about a woman and her perfect life as a mom. This kind of family harmony is something I strive for, so if it means we go fishing once a week, then fishing we go. Camping also gets the same results except it's harder to camp without a husband.

    
      A few other highlights from this week:

1) I finally bit the bullet and got my haircut. I barely paid for my awesome haircuts in MN. Tim and Cindy (my stylist) are great friends of ours and we spent many weekends getting together for dinner and cards and haircuts. Cindy hooked me up... we cut my hair sometimes twice in a month. This allowed for some super short cuts- ones that need trimming often. Her and I came up with a plan before we moved out to AZ... a cut that would grow out nicely (tear). My faux hawk days are over for now.

2) Ellie is completely potty trained. I hesitate even writing this because I'm afraid I'll wake up tomorrow with an accident on my hands. We haven't used a diaper at night in over 2 weeks and she seems to have it down. Using the public restrooms for "stinky" is another issue, but hey, I know a lot of grown women who won't even do that anywhere other than their homes.

3) We got some pets! A goldfish that I've already managed to kill, and a snail. We'd love a dog, but it's just not practical right now.

4) We finally figured out our healthcare stuff. In Roch we went to Mayo for everything. The only out-of-network stuff we did was dental. Everyone we knew had the same, or similar, healthcare so we had lots of resources. Our insurance is much different from what we've used in the past so figuring it all out was boring and very grown up, so naturally I had my husband do it. He's a good man.
     


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Top 5

Top 5 September 4th, 2013

1) We had a whole house full of people this weekend. We've been eager to fill this house with memories so that it will feel more like home and this weekend was nothing short of memorable. Albert's best friend from HS, Chad, and his gorgeous wife Nicole (whom we've known for over a decade) came up for a sleepover. We laughed so hard that our faces hurt. Everything was funny or fun or entertaining or deep or wonderful during their visit. I love, love to see my husband with Chad. He was so caught up in love and laughter that I thought for sure we were going to have to administer some CPR at one point. Their stories blow my mind. Another long friend of theirs stopped in for just a short visit with his two boys. In a matter of minutes we were in the middle of a full blown nerf war and it was great. Our step bro and his wife visited us from Austin, TX. It was the first time we met his beautiful wife and I'm so happy to share that they will be expecting their first child. They will be wonderful parents. Our parents also joined in on the fun. The kids love their grandparents like you would not believe and have missed them very much. Their visit was short but so sweet. 

2) Kombucha. Our friends are some of the most health conscience people I know and they drink this stuff. I've only ever heard about it on Kid History: Healthy Food, but here I am drinking this Apple Cider Vinegary tasting bacteria to help replace the bad bacteria. I'm willing to try just about anything once. Next is chia. 

3) Scottsdale Splash Pads. If you don't know what they are just imagine the kiddy pool fountains that shoot up out of the ground minus the pool part. The ones we've visited are in shopping plazas and you'll find kids in swimsuits splashing around while moms and dads eat their takeout meals and relax.

4) Albert started a new rotation this week. He works 16 of the next 28 days in the ED. Should be a decent rotation with good hours. We love having that man around.

5) I'm reaching for a 5th. I thought this would be really easy. Maybe I should have a pad of paper around so I can write my highlights as they happen and then pick my favorite 5. Oh, I know. I started a gratitude journal. It's a 5 year journal so as the years progress I can look back to previous years and see what I wrote on the same day. I got it on clearance at Barnes and Noble and it fit perfectly with Ann Voskamp's 1,000 Gifts book that I started reading. 

Nighty Night.

Once Upon A Time The Gutierri Moved From Mayo Rochester To Mayo Scottsdale.


Sometimes we do crazy things for love. Sometimes we move from our home of 20 years to the frigid Midwest so that our husbands can learn to be doctors. And then sometimes we move from our home of 8 years, the place where we raised babies with our friends and learned how to be homemakers and learned about our BFF Jesus, to move back to the desert because that is where your husband's heart is. And sometimes love will make you take 4 days to drive from MN to AZ instead of 2 because your wife likes to take her sweet time. And sometimes it will make you strong enough to work a difficult 12 hours and then come home to cuddle and listen and read and clean. Love is crazy.

My brother Kevin flew from Seattle to MN to help us drive our two vehicles to AZ. It was a ton of fun to have him with us. Ellie was completely obsessed with him from the get go. She kept him up most the night trying to wrestle him, hug him, tickle him. We're pretty sure she took to him so quickly because he looks so much like me and has a very similar personality (read: goofy). I was terribly sad to be leaving MN, but Kevin is a natural comedian and a was a very welcomed distraction. Albert and I were even afforded a mid road trip date in Colorado Springs after a long day of driving. The kids and Kevin stayed back at the hotel while Albert and I feasted on the most delicious Korean BBQ.

That's us up front. Our HE>I bumper sticker kept Kevin's brain busy for a little while. We're just about to hit the Rockies... my favorite part of the drive.


For the record: I DID NOT know he was snapping photos while driving 70mph with my child in the backseat while driving our vehicle. Oh Brother.

We stopped in Colorado Springs for some fun: Focus on the Family's Whit's End. The kiddos love Adventures in Odyssey and Chronicles of Narnia.

Playing Producers

Aslan and the Lamp Post. These kids are out growing our laps! I honestly don't think that's possible.

The funnest part of our trip, by far. Whit's End is completely free of charge and a great place to just roam around and explore.

 Heard about Tim's Place on Facebook and just had to stop for some free hugs. Luckily, it was right on our way to AZ. Tim stops by all the tables to check up on his guests and if you're lucky he'll show you his cup stacking skills.

One of the friendliest people alive. He had shirts and hats for all occasions. Notice he matched Bella in the first photo, then went and changed to match my brother. Everyone leaves this place with a smile.
A quick stop to stretch our legs

YES! We found a Starbucks!

Jacob looks miserable, but I promise he loves a good squeeze.

A look into the future... She's 30 stuck in a 9 year old's body.

The Gnome we bought for our neighbors as a going away gift and then immediately confiscated so that he can join us on our summer adventures. He's about to make his journey back home to MN.

Ellie has done the 1800 mile road trip 5 times now. This was by far the smoothest trip. Partly because she's getting older and partly because we had 3 adults and 2 vehicles. Albert did long stretches of just him and the kids so that Kevin and I could drive in silence or catch up on each others lives. My husband is a saint... must be nice to be born with kindness and patience and good looks and brains.

Messing around with Light Room. I'd really love to know how to use it, but really hate the learning part of it. This sweet girl has my heart.

We are on the outskirts of Denver, but this town will soon be bustling with people. There are houses going up all over the place around here. Of course, you must start with a coffee shop. And a Target.









Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why, Hello!

I have so many things I'd love to say to my friends while sitting across from them at Baker's Square or Chester's. All throughout my day I think "I really need to write that down in an email tonight and send it to my homegirls," but as you know, life gets busy. Facebook is great, but sometimes you need to share a little more than the one or two liners and the occasional instagram photo.

I Love, love my friends weekly Top 5 list on her blog. It's a brilliant idea (like most her ideas). It's easy and simple and fast. If nothing else, I think I can get a weekly Top 5 up.

Top 5 August 25th, 2013

1) We are in our third week of homeschooling. It's not been FB announced so technically it's not official:) Our first week I doubted if I could do it. Our second week Albert was on vacation so we took vacation... best week of homeschool ever. We're two days in to this week and I've never been more proud of anything I've ever done as a parent than this. At any moment I could be reduced to hiding in the bathroom, but so far so good. 

2) Visited an Episcopal Church. Interesting. We haven't found our church home yet, but one things for sure, we were not enjoying the convenient option. We're going on a tour of churches in the area. This will be my field work of the body of Christ. How many times will I have this opportunity to meet so many other believers and learn about how they worship? Another bonus... We're learning about World Religion in school so this "church shopping" comes at a convenient time. We can teach World Religion as well as Christian Denominations. 

3) We started "playing" tennis again. I use the quotations because I'm no worthy opponent for my husband, but it has been a blast teaching the kids. We bought some cheap racquets from Savers and are using the terribly beat up court right behind our rental (literally steps away). Best part- Ellie LOVES to fetch the balls. We hope this keeps up for awhile because it is so much more fun when you have a cute ball girl who takes care of your strays.

4) I finally have AZ plates on the truck. That should be the last of the DMV visits for at least 11 months. 

5) I tried to force a Safeway into being my new Hyvee hangout. Although they do have a Starbucks and a Wells Fargo, their diner is not going to make the cut. No retired folk having morning coffee, not a great menu to order from, and the bathroom is entirely too far from the hangout spot. I might have to lower my expectations.