Pool Stuff

Living in Arizona is great. It’s so beautiful and there are so many outdoorsy things to do. In the winter. Living in Arizona in the summer is hot and miserable. Some people handle it just fine, but I find it too harsh. There are a few things I can do to beat the heat. One thing is going swimming. I think that it’s pretty much a requirement to have a pool when you live in Arizona. If you don’t have a private pool, you either become really close with someone who has a pool, or you live in a community with a pool. Sometimes I realize just how blessed we are to live in the neighborhood we do. We have three community pools for our use. That’s right, I said three. One of the pools is just a few steps from home.

There are so many advantages to having a community pool rather than a private one. We don’t have to deal with maintenance. The HOA takes care of the repairs and hires the cleaning guys. I don’t have to do a thing. We don’t have to take up the majority of our yard with a pool. Now, in the house that we have, we don’t have room for a wading pool in our yard, but that’s neither here nor there. If we actually had a yard, I would want it for my kids to run around and kick balls and climb trees. I would want it for gardening (Ches wants a vegetable garden, I want a flower garden). I would want it for trees. And perhaps even a trampoline. Not a pool taking up all that space. With a community pool we don’t have to worry about what to do with the pool in the winter or how good of a fence we have around the pool. We don’t have to worry about my kid drowning in my backyard pool. We see news reports several times a week here during the summer about young children drowning in the family pool. It’s sad. It’s horrific. I don’t want to chance it.

As you can see, I love having a community pool that we can use any time (within the posted hours, of course). It’s especially nice when you’re poor like us and can’t afford to go on vacations and have nothing else to do all summer in this oppressive Arizona heat. It’s also great because we don’t even have the money to go to public pools. It’s a special treat to go somewhere else to swim. We love the pools we have, though. Who needs a water slide, dump buckets, lazy river, or whirlpool? (Okay, so we love that stuff. That’s part of the special treat, though!)

There are definite disadvantages to not having a private pool, however. Usually it doesn’t bother me at all. Today I was bothered.

I know it’s Memorial Day and so I knew it would be busy. We aren’t the only ones who enjoy swimming on Memorial Day. Not a big deal. I was pleasantly surprised to find several friends at the pool. Made it a lot more fun for the boys. I was not-so-pleasantly surprised to see some adults in the pool with an inflatable raft playing beer pong in one corner of the pool. Especially when the second rule posted for everyone to see is “No open alcohol within the pool gates”. Now, I’m not going to care that much if someone is drinking (Seriously, I get it. It’s Memorial Day and so you’re drinking beer and swimming and having a BBQ! That’s what people do!), but really? IN the pool? Whatever. They stayed in their corner and played their little game (for the entire hour and a half we were there. Hmmm. Not counting the time before we got there, not to mention that they were still playing when we left), but it was still bothersome to me that people would do that in a pool where a bunch of young kids were. They were completely blocking one of the two sets of stairs. Little kids are trying to get in and out of the pool! Gah. Oh well. They stayed to themselves and didn’t get obnoxious or anything, so we didn’t say anything to them. Just stewed to ourselves (and with our friends).

More people came to the pool. A lot of people came to the pool. Not a big deal. Except no one was using good manners. No one was watching. Kids of all ages and sizes would run and jump in the pool without watching where they were going and who was already in the pool. I was mainly worried about Parker, who only swims with floaties and doesn’t like his face in the water. Some kid jumped on Ches’ head. Their parents weren’t any better. Throwing balls and yelling and just not watching out. One young dad was only at the pool with his baby for about 10 minutes. He couldn’t do anything without some big kids jumping in and splashing the baby.

We left because we were not comfortable with the amount of people in the pool, with the amount of drinking that was going on, and with the lack of consideration for anyone else actually in the water. It just didn’t feel safe.

We’ll go back tomorrow and I’m sure there won’t even be half the amount of people there. We’ll get back to being able to play and feel safe and just have fun in the pool. And hey, if you’re ever bored, come on over. We love to swim with our friends!

A Time For Mourning

No matter your views on war (any war) or the military, I think we can all agree that when a member of the military dies there are people who mourn the loss of life. These military men and women are brought home so their families and friends can pay their respects and say goodbye. A funeral is a time for mourning, for respect, for dignity, and a time for families to celebrate the life of that person they love.

We have all heard of the Westboro Baptist Church and their protests. I’m sure we all know of their anti-military, anti-homosexual messages. I don’t need to go into the disgust I feel for these so-called Christians because I’m sure you have all felt the same. I do believe that these people have the right to protest, even if I don’t agree with them. There is really no way we can stop them from spouting that garbage. However, I feel that there needs to be some kind of stand taken against them. In the past I thought if we just ignored them, eventually they would go away. I know it would do no good to write letters or make speeches against them because they will just use it to fuel their own hatred and keep going with what they are doing.

I read this article, which details some of the latest exploits of this group. They protest at funerals and disturb the funeral. I’m sure it’s hard to miss a large group of people who yell and carry signs that say things like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. At the end it talks about a funeral they are planning on protesting in Florida. If they are making public their own plans, why can’t we do something? Why can’t enough people get together and protest the protesters. A silent protest. I’m thinking if enough strangers showed up and basically stood silently, blocking the way of the Westboro people, it would send a message. A message of peace and solidarity for the families of the deceased, and a message of “we’re not going to let you ruin this for others” to the Westboro people. There would be no yelling (which is why I call it a silent protest) and no signs. Just enough people to block the view of the Westboro people. I’m sure their yelling will still be heard and their signs will be seen, but imagine the strength the family will get from seeing all those silent supporters. I wish I was in Florida. I would be there.

I know my blog isn’t a hugely read thing, and none of my readers are in Florida. In fact, the funeral may be over with once any of you read this. But what about the next one? If the Westboro church can find out where funerals are being held and since they are public enough about letting everyone know they are going to protest, why can’t we show up, too? Why can’t we do our part to let these families have their funerals and have some kind of peace on that day?

It’s just a thought.

Life of Mom

The thing about being a full time mom is that it is just that. Full time. You never get a break. You never get a day off. You never get a vacation. You may go on vacation, but (and especially if you’re with your family), you are still on duty the entire time. You are still rounding up meals and taking care of imagined and real hurts to the child. You are still disciplining and entertaining.

When children get sick, they get to stay home from school, lay on the couch, and watch movies all day while Mom brings them food and drink, rubs their back and holds their hair during vomiting sessions, drives to doctors and pharmacies, and is at the child’s beck and call for the entire day.

When Dad gets sick, he gets to stay home from work and take long naps and Mom still brings him food and drink and runs errands (which may include doctor’s offices and pharmacies) and tries to keep the kids extra entertained and quiet so Dad can rest up and get better quickly. Mom still has her normal duties of the day, which she does while taking care of sick Dad. Heaven help her if kids and Dad are sick at the same time.

When Mom gets sick, people still have to go to school and lunches still have to be made. Snack still have to be given, and preschoolers still have to be reminded to sit on the potty at regular intervals. Homework still has to be completed, books still have to be read, kids still have to wear clothes. All of this is done by Mom. No one spends the day bringing her fluids or rubbing her back. No one is there to keep the kids quiet or take them to the park so Mom can get a nap.

When Dads go to work, they interact with other adults and get to do something that feels like accomplishment. They bring home a regular paycheck that validates their worth in the workplace.

When Moms stay home, they can go days without talking to another adult, they have to ask for money from their husband, and Mother’s Day is just about the one day of the year where anyone makes a big deal and validates the hard works she has done all year. There are no paychecks, no bonuses, no quarterly evaluations to check up on her.

I’m not complaining at all about the seemingly unfairness of it all. There are rewards beyond measure about staying home with my kids. I’m grateful for it. Life is tough, but having me at home with he kids is one of the only truly good decisions we’ve made.

I’m just sick and would like a true vacation. Is that too much to ask? If you’re a mom, yeah. It really kind of is.

Ya THINK??

So we were watching “Marley and Me” the other night, and there’s the scene where Jennifer Aniston’s character and Owen Wilson’s character are reading newspapers that they had each written an article for. The are reading each other’s articles. Being the supportive spouses and such. Owen Wilson works for a small paper and his article is really some blurb where the editor cut a bunch of it out and spell the character’s name wrong. Jennifer Aniston works for a large paper and has this huge article about something very important that continues on to another page and covers four columns of text.

Ches says, “That would be so hard, to be married and do the same thing but not have the same results.”

I just looked at him. Yeah. I don’t know how that feels at all.

Making Friends

I have moved a lot, so you’d think I’d be used to this sort of thing. I have learned that it really takes about a year to really get comfortable and happy in a new place. I’m not the most outgoing person, and it’s hard for me to just jump in and make friends right away.

I have complained in the past about this neighborhood and about my ward at church. I haven’t felt accepted or even remotely wanted. I haven’t felt like I fit in. I really did try to put myself out there, but I’ve never been good at that. I keep going to activities at church, however. I keep going to the park in the mornings and the afternoons. I’m going to the neighborhood “boot camp”. I’ve been going to Book Club and trying to attend things like baby showers or Pampered Chef parties or whatever. I try to smile and say hi, and I try to sit by someone at church and talk to them. I know I tend to hold back a lot and I should try harder, but I’m working on it.

We moved here in the end of May. It is now 10 months later, and I am happy to report that I’m starting to feel like a part of the neighborhood. I’m making friends and becoming more and more comfortable around the other moms. I still don’t have anyone I’m particularly close to, and I still don’t quite feel like I actually belong, but I’m on friendly terms with just about everyone, I think.

It takes about a year. We were lucky enough to be in our last place for 2 years, so it was really feeling like home. I miss it a lot, and I think I had a lot more in common with my neighbors and ward members there, but I know that there is still a lot going for me here.

I was talking to a couple of other moms at the park the other morning. Almost everyone else had already left. These two moms are not LDS (rare around here, really), and I realized that I feel more comfortable around the non-LDS neighbors than my LDS neighbors. I wonder why that is.

It was also interesting to talk to them and hear their perspectives on moving here, to a highly LDS populated area, and to this neighborhood in particular. These two women are totally comfortable with everyone now, but it wasn’t always that way.

I realized then that no matter where I go, I will be faced with the same things. That year of trying to “get in” is hard, but it’s even harder for someone who is not a member of such a close-knit community. Mormons tend to get together and form bonds really quickly. They trust each other quickly and have their kids all hang out. I don’t think anyone ever means to be excluding in any way, but it can seem that way to someone new.

This post is kind of jumbled and out of sync. Sorry about that. I’m just in the middle of a bit of an enlightenment and wanted to share some of it with you. I also felt the need to check in with my online friends and say that I’m still alive and I’m actually doing well right now. Things are getting better here. I have a lot of thinking I’m doing right now. I guess you can say this post is…

To be continued…

Invisible Woman

I went to the park to pick Aiden up from school today. Dallin came with me (riding his new bike. Well, trying to ride it. He doesn’t quite get the concept of pedalling). The normal group of moms was at the park with their kids. I haven’t been in a while as Aiden spent all last week sick and before that was winter break, so no one was going to the park. Anyway, I haven’t really seen anyone in a while, and thought it’d be fun to go catch up and say hi.

I sat down and couldn’t catch anyone’s eye. They were in a conversation, so I didn’t want to interrupt or anything. But honestly… couldn’t just one person have acknowledged that I was there? A simple “hi” would have been nice. That’s all.

I sat there for about 10 minutes as the other moms continued to converse when Aiden wanted to run home for a snack and Dallin wanted to ride his bike some more, so I got up to leave with them. Finally someone said, “Is that it? You’re going?” I made my regrets, but Ches had to return to school tonight anyway, so it’s not like I could have stayed long anyway.

I don’t feel very welcome. I don’t know. Maybe I should have made more of an effort. I don’t like to really push my way into things. It feels rude to me. But it sure would be nice to have a little attention. A smile and a “hi”.

And now you know Reason Number 537 of Why I Hate This Neighborhood.

What Has It Come To??

Aiden’s birthday is a week from yesterday. Because I have to work on Monday, we decided I’d bring in treats on Friday, and besides, it’s “Friday Fun Day”, so that will be a better day, anyway. I was all excited to make 30+ cupcakes, all looking like Storm Trooper helmets or Darth Vadar heads. Aiden has asked for rice crispie treats, instead. And all the rice crispie treats have to be Darth Vadar. No problem. I can do that. I think.

Except that things have changed since I was in elementary school. We have to buy whatever treats we bring. We aren’t allowed to make them ourselves. And if we DID want to make something, apparantly it can only be done there on campus, in the home ec. room or something. Yeah. That’s not going to happen.

So now I have to find a bakery or something that will make a large batch of Darth Vadar rice crispie treats. Aiden really really really wants that, and since he doesn’t get a birthday party this year, I figure we could get him what he wants rather than me just running to Wal-Mart Friday morning and buying whatever generic cupcakes they have.

I’m not happy about this. Stupid school rules. I understand the need to keep kids safe, especially when there is a peanut allergy or something. But there isn’t one in this class. And how many cases of moms poisoning their child’s birthday cupcakes have there been?? Honestly. I’m sick of having to bow down to every little possibility that is SUCH a small possibility. I bet it’s just someone’s overactive imagination, and that someone is on the state school board (same rules in a different district last year). I bet it’s a case of some overprotective parent somewhere that freaked out at the thought of a stranger being allowed to send in a potentially dangerous cupcake, made a huge ordeal, and now we ALL have to deal with the decision.

I liked being a kid when I was allowed to walk to school or the park by myself. When I brought in homemade cupcakes for my birthday. When I went trick-or-treating and got actual homemade treats from the neighbors. When we had Halloween and Christmas and Valentine’s Day parties, not a “fall harvest” or a “winter celebration”. I liked going out to play with the neighborhood kids and not with my parents. I liked riding my bike without a helmet and kneepads and elbow pads. I like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and not having to worry about sitting at a certain table or even in a certain room while I ate my peanut butter. Life may have been more dangerous, but we sure didn’t know. It was a lot more simple. A lot easier to be a kid. A lot of fun.

Differences Between Arizona and Alaska

Haha.  I bet you think this is going to be some kind of a political post, don’t you?  Nope, sorry.  Not gonna say a word about McCain or his pick for Veep, Sarah Palin.  Read on for something non-political. 🙂

Kris wrote a post yesterday about August in Alaska.    It’s like we live in two totally different worlds.  Go read Kris’ post and feel sorry for her, then come back here and read mine, then feel sorry for me.  Go ahead.

You done?  Okay.  Here we go.  Right now, I am…

1.  Paying an arm and a leg to keep our little house cooled down to 83 degrees.  Yes, I said 83.  That’s cool for us.

2.  Opening the fridge to find Blanket (Dallin’s blanket) shoved in there.  He wants Blanket to be cold.

3.  Waiting for Ches’ stipend money to come in so we can finally do some back to school shopping and get Aiden some more shorts.  Even the thought of wearing jeans or pants to school makes Aiden cry right now.

4.  Trying to teach Parker to keep his shorts on.  The boy likes being half naked.  Who can blame him?  It’s just too dang hot to wear clothes.  I just have this modesty issue…

5.  Wondering if those brown patches on the lawn will ever be green, or if I should just get used to not having a lovely green lawn in front of my house.

6.  Wondering why my friend isn’t allowed to wear those cute, professional-looking dressy shorts to work, and why she has to wear pantyhose when she wears a skirt.  Did her bosses forget just where it is we live?

7.  Sitting under a ceiling fan, eating a large bowl of ice cream, and planning on what time to take the kids to the pool.

8.  Trying not to think about the fact that none of this is going to change until November sometime.

Technically, Kris and I live in the same country, but wow.  We live on two different planets!!  Most of you live in much more moderate climates.  Be thankful!!

Don’t Hate Me, But…

I don’t think the Twilight books are really all that. Don’t get me wrong. I love them. I’m anxiously waiting for my turn to get “Breaking Dawn” from the library and trying not to run across spoilers. I love Edward and can’t wait to see the movie this December because I think Robert Pattinson will make an excellent Edward, no matter what a lot of other people say.

But all the comparisons to Harry Potter? Sorry. I love Harry Potter more than just about anything. I’m not an uberfan (I don’t know McGonagall’s middle name, for example) but I love everything to do with Harry Potter and the magical world. I get totally lost in that world. I dream of witches and wizards. I wish I wasn’t a muggle. I wish I could have gone to Hogwarts (so I also really wish I was British!!). I have taught my kids who to properly pronounce words like “ridikulus” and “levicorpus” and how to do a good “swish and flick”. Aiden’s favorite thing is to point a wand at his brothers and yell “Expelliarmis!” The Harry Potter world is very real in my mind. Forks, Washington, seems like a nice town (I love the Pacific Northwest and all the rain. Seriously.), but it’s not all that real to me. I could see myself being friends with Bella (we have that clutzy thing in common. heh), but I would be intimidated as I’ll get out by the Cullens. The Twilight world is fun for me to visit as I read, but I don’t get stuck there as I do in the Harry Potter world.

Then there are the comparisons of Edward and Bella to Buffy and Angel. Ummm, hello? There is no comparison! The only thing they have in common is that he is a vampire and she is a mortal girl. End of all likeness. Angel is a vampire with a soul on a quest for atonement. Buffy is “like a superhero or something”, being The Slayer and all. She has super human skills that came with the calling of The Slayer. And the point of her existance is to slay all the vampires. Edward is a vampire with a concious, not a soul. Quite a difference in my book. Bella is just a girl… an every day, totally normal girl (which is why we love her!).

Anyway, which do you love more? “Twilight” or Harry Potter? Or Buffy? Or is there something else?