Monday, October 20, 2008

This Post is For Craig

In Alaska, when it comes to "large talons" we don't mess around with chickens. We go straight to the "really large talons!" So if you're in to large talons, maybe you, brother, need to come North! And as for keeping my own talons warm, well... that one's harder... still trying to figure that one out.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Earning A Free Ride to Mars (Including a Lesson on Prayer)

We never got around to doing the apartment cleaning that I intended for us to do on Saturday. Instead, we decided to focus our efforts on our recycling. A bit of background: when Ammon started kindergarten last year, one of the first units that his class did was about recycling. He came home and announced that we weren't doing our part to save the earth by recycling. So we started! At the time, we lived upstairs with an empty workroom next door to us. It was very easy to daily take our recycling to that room, let it accumulate and then periodically take it to the transfer site to recycle it. Now, we live downstairs and the trek up the stairs and to the workroom is a bit more of a hassle. But we still do it (it's amazing what guilt will do to you once you've recycled and then feel like stopping!). We even have our little old neighbor, Buford, contributing all his soda cans to our cause! Whenever we use tin cans, plastic bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes, etc., they end up in a very messy pile underneath our kitchen sink (we need a better system for this part). When it starts to overflow, we stick it all in a bag and somebody runs upstairs to throw it (literally) into the workroom. Well... the workroom was overflowing (again, literally), and we decided it was time to sort, bag and take everything to the transfer site.

The kids had fun sorting everything. They were amazed at how much milk we drink, how much canned fruit we consume, how many eggs we eat, and how much other stuff we use. I was, too. (By the way, I think that as a society, we totally overdo it on our food packaging!) It took us a while, but we finally got it all packed in our car. The whole time we were doing all of this, I kept thinking of Long Beach, where the city provides a gray trash can and a blue one for recycling and both are picked up weekly. It was sooo easy! I also thought about the short time I lived with my grandma in San Jose, where you actually get fined if your recycling bins aren't used. Oh well... kudos to them!

As we were leaving home, we realized that the keys we'd used to get into the workroom were suddenly missing. All fingers pointed to little Ziya, who was last seen playing with the keys. We checked her pockets (she's a "stasher") but to no avail. This was extremely stressful, since these are a set of master keys that open every single door in the apartment building (including our own home!). My immediate thought is that they were buried in one of the many bags of our recycling stuff. We said a prayer in the car asking Heavenly Father to please help us find our keys, and then we continued on to the Soldotna transfer site.

We gingerly emptied all our bags into the appropriate bins (the boys absolutely dig this part!), first shaking everything to make sure the keys weren't lodged in a can or box somewhere. I was really starting to get nervous as I pulled out the last bag of plastic stuff. It was a real pain to take out bottle by bottle and jar by jar, but there, at the very bottom of the bag was our set of master keys! Hooray! It was as if Heavenly Father just needed us to be patient and persistent until the very, very end. We passed the test! The boys were excited as we talked about the beauty and the blessing of answered prayers. It was a good opportunity for us to teach them that we can pray all we want, but we also have to do our part. I'm thankful for the experience.

I'm also thankful for an environment-conscious kindergarten teacher who helped us get this whole thing started. We all talked about how it really felt good when we left the transfer site and learned that we'd recycled about 200 pounds of stuff that could have very easily gone to a regular landfill.

Ammon came up with a scenario that might encourage others to start recycling. As we were talking to the kids about how regular garbage just gets put into the earth and it takes years and years for it to decompose, he said that he thought it would be a really good idea if in the future, when the earth gets too full of trash, all the people who recycled would get a free ride on a spaceship to go live on Mars, and all the people who did not recycle would have to stay on Earth. Hmmm... just something to think about!

Bragging Rights for Alaska... Dunbar Update

In my Mid-October Catch Up post, I mentioned "the famous Dunbar kid" who broke his own state cross country record in Palmer with a 5K time of 15:07. Jacob just gave me an update on the kid (whose name is really Trevor Dunbar from Kodiak). For any runners out there (or just anybody who wants some Alaskan bragging rights), here's a link to an article about what he's been doing (and here's another one). He's actually the fastest high school cross country runner IN THE NATION right now!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mid-October Catch Up...

***CAUTION: I've just finished writing this post and it is somewhat long. Remember, nobody (except for my mom and Jacob and o.k., maybe my sisters), should feel obligated to read all my ramblings. This is after all, a sort of journal for me. But happy reading if you do decide to read!***

I wrote the date for something tonight and I couldn't believe that half of October is already gone! Amazing. I also realized that a lot has happened that I haven't posted about... uh oh! So here goes a big catch up session. See, my dedication to this blogging thing sometimes waivers, but I always (well, almost always) find my way back. Here goes:

October 3-5: I didn't want to be alone with the kids for General Conference weekend, so I pulled Ammon out of school early and my three kiddos and I made the drive to Anchorage all by ourselves (I felt like such a big girl... making the drive alone was a first for me). We went to Value Village (a really cool second hand store) and bought Halloween costumes (this was a blast) and some more jeans for the boys (they're growing much faster than our budget can ever hope to). We also did some Costco shopping and had dinner there. This was an interesting experience. Every time we got to the farthest end of the warehouse, one of the boys decided that he needed to make another trip to the bathroom. Usually, Jacob or I would make the trek while the other continued shopping... I'll just say that Costco shopping without Jacob took us A VERY LONG TIME! When we finally finished at Costco, we made our way to a vacation rental that our friends own and bunkered down for the night. In the morning, we watched Conference on our laptop while we had some breakfast. It really was a lot of fun and I enjoyed what I heard. I'm learning to relax and just try my best at getting out of Conference what I can rather than be upset that my children are the only ones in the whole entire world who can't sit reverently for two consecutive hours ;)

After this morning session of Conference, we drove to Palmer to be with Jacob for the Cross Country State Finals Meet. This was an interesting drive for me. In the two years since we've been in Alaska, this was my first time going beyond Anchorage on the same road that brought us here back in 2006. I had mixed feelings (a whole post in itself... maybe another time!). A couple of interesting notes though (I wish I had pictures to go with these):
  • Ammon had fun counting the overpasses/ bridges that we drove on. I realized that living on a peninsula, this isn't something that is familiar to him. Ammon's excitement about highway overpasses reminded me of my mom telling me about my Mama Gollita (my great grandmother) who on her first drive through Los Angeles looked out of the car window in utter shock and amazement as she drove through the city and saw the hundreds of overpasses. I guess my children are very much "small town" kids now.
  • It was fun for us to see highway signs signaling that the next exit had fast food, gas stations, hotels or restrooms. It was a subtle realization, but again, I was struck by just how different it is where we live now. I realized that the highway signs we are used to seeing tell us about the hiking or skiing trails, the camp sites, lake or river access, or the moose that may cross the road right in front of your car.
Anyway, on to the Cross Country meet. KCHS only had two girls that qualified for this state meet and the entire Munyer family was there to cheer them on with all our gusto. As I usually do, I cried as I watched many of the races. I cried because Jacob told me about the little freshman girl from a place called Kenny Lake who showed up at her school and told her PE teacher that she enjoyed running. Well, with no team or uniform to speak of, they somehow managed to send her to a couple of races (Jacob said that at the last meet where he saw her, she still didn't have a uniform to wear). She did manage to borrow one for this state meet where she quickly ran to the front of her race and beat all the other runners by quite a margin (she beat the second place runner by 14 seconds and the third place runner by almost an entire minute). I also cried when I saw the famous Dunbar kid beat his own state record by about 30 seconds (many thought he couldn't do it on such a cold day - it was after all, only about 34 degrees). As I've written before, I'm pretty sure there is an unfulfilled runner somewhere deep inside of me and every once in a while, she gets glimpses of awesome running accomplishments that make her cry.

As they always do, my kids had a fantastic time at this meet. Jacob and I have both said time and time again that cross country is definitely the most "family friendly" sport for a coach and his family. I think my kids would agree.

I'm posting this picture separately because it just reminds me of how "wild" Alaska is. I love it! Look at all these different school mascots:

After the cross country meet, we went back to Anchorage and we had a scrumptious dinner at Red Robin. I have to say that ever since my little nephew Isaiah went to Red Robin in Salt Lake City for his birthday, I've been craving it. I forgot that Anchorage has one! Ymmmm... I super enjoyed the dinner not only because the food was good and the experience was fun, but mostly because it satisfied a major craving that I erringly thought was un-satisfiable. We spent another night in Anchorage, watched the Sunday sessions of General Conference on our laptop again and then drove back to Kenai. We saw our first snow of the season on this drive. I didn't snap a picture, but we did in fact see snow falling on October 5th! Here are some other random driving pictures.

October 7: Jacob came home from school with a huge bag full of hockey gear intended for Ammon. It fit Abraham instead... and Ziya. I don't know if we'll really sign the kids up for hockey, but at least one of them now has a new super hero costume! I never thought my kids would be interested in hockey, but it seems to be one of the things to do up here to keep kids busy during the long winter months... and my boys have started talking about it. We'll see... I kind of think it's a violent sport and my kids are violent enough on their own without being "encouraged" and "taught" to be so. I may change my mind about this as the winter continues (and continues and continues) on.

October 9: I don't remember exactly now, but I think we actually had some snow accumulation a few days before this. October 9 is just the first time I actually pulled out the camera and took pictures of the kids playing so I have the date recorded on the pictures. Either way, it sure is early for snow, although nobody seems to be too surprised given the very wet summer we had. What I think is most tragic about all this is that we didn't really get a chance to finish out our beautiful fall (I kept telling myself to do a fall post with some pictures of our beautifully colored landscapes, and now I'm too late!).

One Tuesday at story/craft time at the public library, Abraham made this beautiful fall tree. The very next Tuesday, the mood had drastically changed and he made this snow hill scene! The change is all so sudden! I snapped a picture of a tree in our neighborhood: its beautifully changing leaves never even had a chance to gracefully flutter to the ground before the snow forced them to schlep down! Tragic, indeed!

My poor Abraham doesn't get to play in the snow the way Ammon does at recess. On this day, I got both him and Ziya all geared up (except for Abe's hat... oops), picked Ammon up at school and met a little friend at the high school to play on this small hill. They had fun jumping and sliding down the hill. I couldn't force a smile out of Ziya - she didn't seem too happy about not being able to move very freely. At a mere 30 or 32 degrees, Ammon got hot and decided to take his coat off. So not only are they small towners now, they are also quite acclimatized!

October 11: With the cross country season over, we finally got to enjoy a Saturday with absolutely nothing on our calendar! It was great. We spent part of the day doing apartment work. The kids helped Jacob pull the flowers out of the planters, sweep up the mess they made and then put out the snow shovels at each of the apartment entrances. I truly enjoy working together as a family. It's amazing how when we work together, all the arguing and fighting stops and we're able to actually be productive and have fun while we're doing it. Even Ziya got in on the action. Her job was to hold up the dust pan as I swept stuff into it. I'm convinced that soon, very soon, we need to buy a home with enough land with it to have either a few animals or a small orchard or at least a garden so that we always have work to do together. It's one of my goals. For now, we will have to be satisfied with dousing the hallway windows with a ton of Windex, wiping down the coin operated washers and dryers in the laundry rooms and vacuuming our eternally long upstairs hallway (this is the family work that we're going to do this Saturday!).

And now, I'm officially caught up. Maybe I should send Jacob away more often since this is the only time I ever seem to blog these days! Tonight, he went to a stake dance, after which he is supposed to take the Young Men and plan the next couple months' of activities while having a sleepover at a big fancy cabin (oh yeah... there's also paint ball guns and snow ball launchers involved... I wonder how much "planning" will get done?).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where's the Toothfairy?

Before... see the other tooth already there?
Before... but oh, soooo loose!

After... he's pretty excited!

About a month ago, I was helping Ammon brush his teeth and I noticed that there was some redness and swelling just inside his bottom tooth line. During the next couple of days, a new tooth erupted... right behind another one. I asked our dentist friend about it and he recommended that we have Ammon wiggle the one in front (which was only slightly loose) every single day so that it would fall out and the new tooth could make its way forward. He also told us to only give it about a month and if it still hadn't fallen out, we should take him in to the dentist to have the loose tooth extracted. We explained all this to Ammon, but even with the "threat" of a tooth extraction, he simply forgot to wiggle that tooth.

Well, the other night I came home to "a huge surprise!" Both boys were so excited to tell me what had happened in my absence. Apparently, they were in a fight over something and Abraham took his foot and shoved it right into Ammon's face... and knocked the tooth loose! Ammon was so happy that he was hardly even mad that he got kicked in the face. He even thanked Abe, who still takes great pride in telling the story! For the rest of the evening and next morning, Ammon wiggled it and wiggled it, but when it was time to go to school, it still hadn't fallen out. He was too nervous to let us pull it out for him - so off to school he went.

When I picked him up after school, the first thing I noticed was that the tooth was gone.

Mami: Hey buddy! (huge excited smile on my face). Where's your tooth?
Ammon: I don't know.
Mami: When did it fall out?
Ammon: I don't know.
Jett: (a passerby) Oh... it was on the floor and another kid in our class found it but then he dropped it again and now nobody knows where it is.
Ammon: Yeah. Maybe I even swallowed it, or something. (most explanations these days end with "or something")
Mami: O.K. then...

So the whole "losing the first tooth" experience kind of turned out to be anticlimactic. There's no tooth to leave for the tooth fairy (Ammon says he's going to write her a letter to explain what happened... I'm curious). And there's not even a big gap to show for the lost tooth (its replacement is very quickly making its way into its permanent home). It's still cute though to hear just a bit of a lisp and to see him tonguing the space every once in a while.

Calming Everybody Down For Bedtime

Hmmm... I wonder why they have such a hard time getting to sleep sometimes? What's funniest to me is that there was actually a reason for doing this to one of the kids. But the "monkey see, monkey do" rule applies big time in our home, so Jacob ended up having to do it to all three!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm Looking For Another Word

A while back, I wrote a post entitled, "I'm Looking For a Word." It's about Abraham and his "volado" ways (the word that I still don't think translates into English very well; although my sister seems to think that "stoked" is a fair attempt).

Today, I'm looking for another word, this one for Ziya: FACHOSA. I'm not sure that I'm spelling this one right, but it's the word that my family and I used growing up to describe somebody who in some way has it all wrong when it comes to fashion. I think it describes Ziya pretty well in this picture.

Yes, she's wearing Superman underwear over her pajamas. This is her latest thing. Every night, they all get out of the bath at the same time and get pajamas on. I guess she doesn't want to be left out of even a single step.

She also has a pink princess toothbrush in her hand. She used to just suck on the toothpaste and ask for more, but now she actually lets me brush her six little teeth! And she gets really mad at me if I don't lift her up to allow her to "spit" into the sink (again, something she has learned from her brothers!).

And much to my dismay, that's a pacifier near her mouth. The child has never taken to a pacifier (when she was an infant and I tried and tried to give her something other than my "chi-chi" to pacify her, she would have nothing to do with one). Now she's almost a year and a half old and she found this somewhere... and she loves it! Thankfully, and to my relief, it's just a toy to her and not an attachment thing.

Oh, I almost forgot... she also has a stopwatch around her neck. I guess that one is learned from Coach Papi, who often has either a whistle or a stopwatch around his neck!

Just a tad FACHOSA, I would say!