Thursday, August 1, 2013

Six Month Check Up

 I am not a consistent blogger. I am sorry. But here is a selection of the goings on in the Oliphant clan.

In April we rescued (from an kind but not prepared rescuer) a momma cat and her two kittens.

We were on a Lord of the Ring kick, having recently seen the Hobbit, so momma cat is Rosie Cotton (Rosie for short), and the two kittens are Fili (the white one) and Kili (the darker one).

What we didn't know was that Rosie was already pregnant. In June we had 5 more kittens join us. They also are LOTR names. The white and gray one is Arwen (the only girl), then the two orange ones are Pippen and Merry. The gray tabby with socks is Frodo (always the fattest) and the dark gray stripey one is Aragorn. If anyone's interested, we need to find them new homes soon. VERY soon.

 In late April we took a trip up to Chimney Rock state park. It was  a beautiful view, but it wasn't nearly as green as it is now. We climbed to the top, and Andrew promptly climbed on top of this rock and assumed the position.
Of course the other two youngest needed to have their picture taken, so here are their respective poses.

We've had an incredibly wet summer. The wettest on record. By several inches. For the month of July, our area has received 14 inches of rain, 10 inches above normal. I've never been so thankful to live on a hill. Flood warnings happen weekly, sometimes daily. It feels like we've gone from one extreme to the other, between Arizona and North Carolina.
 Here is the result of all that rain, combined with a humdinger of a storm about 3 weeks ago. We lost a tree in a microburst  that felled several trees in the neighborhood.
You can see how close the tree came to smashing the Suburban. We're still working on storage and the garage and haven't been parking the cars in them yet. I didn't see the tree fall, but when we got out to check things, the topmost branches just scraped down the side of the car, with no apparent damage. Thank goodness for small miracles. We did lose power for 24 hours, and the modem died a couple of days later because lightning struck nearby and we had a power surge while the power was out. But all in all we escaped unscathed.
The butterfly bush almost didn't survive the micro burst, either. But this bush has been covered by these big yellow and black butterflies. They are not really afraid of us or the car, so we can go out and be surrounded by butterflies.
There has also been a tremendous sound coming from the trees for the past week or so, especially at night. I wondered if it was cicadas, but then the other day I found this little guy hanging out on the kitchen window, and realized it must be tree frogs. Thousands of them.
I added this picture because it showed two things: Benji losing his first tooth (the second came out a week later) in May, and at the end of May he had tubes put in his ears and his adenoids out. It's been the summer of surgery, because next month Peter is going in to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. Apparently he also has a deviated septum, so that surgery will happen next year so he will have plenty of time to recuperate. The doctor said we could do it all at the same time, but Pete would be pretty miserable with his throat sore and his nose packed with gauze for two or three days. So we opted for waiting, especially if the deviated septum didn't really need surgery.
And soon we'll have Sarah in to have her wisdom teeth removed, since they are messing up all the work the braces did.
Lots of goings on. Hope your summer has been more fun and less eventful than ours. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Christmas and Welcome to North Carolina!

We are here! Well, we've been here for a while, about 2 1/2 weeks. Wow, is that all? Seems like forever. We've had so much going on the past month it seems like a lifetime.
Christmas came for us as I'm sure it did for you.  It was the last day of serenity that I saw for a while. Here are a few pics:

Andrew full of silliness.
Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Legos for the little boys.

American Girl Doll that looks like Meri...for Meri.

Snuggies for the boys who didn't have one and jealous of the girls who did.

DS's for the Boys. Very happy boys.

Sarah's new phone that has now become a part of her.

So we flew across the country...during the holidays...with 5 kids. I don't recommend it. Think "Home Alone" but everyone made the plane. Barely.

Sarah and Pete watching TV in the townhouse.
Once here in NC, we stayed in the townhouse we'd rented for Kendall during his stay here without us until the purchase of our new house closed last week.

We put up our AZ home for sale before we left, before we got it cleaned or the carpets done. The Monday after Christmas people walked through the house three times. Right after New Years we got an offer on our house. We haggled a bit, and it took them a week to redo their loan, but a couple of days ago we got an acceptable offer on the house! Yay! Kendall wants to be restrained and wait until the old loan has funded before he will let himself celebrate, but I'm all for shouting it from the rooftops! (Or my blog.) It was a great blessing from the Lord to have it sell so quickly. We COULD have swung two mortgages after 6 months (when the money from Kendall's company ran out) if it hadn't, but it would have been super duper squinchy. And no fun. We really feel like the Lord had blessed us all along this process. As stressful and crazy as it has been some days, it's still been a heck of a lot easier than it could have been. Like the fact that we are still renting a car because our Suburban (which got picked up on the 28th of Dec.) has been delayed and delayed and delayed. It should get here today, but with this weather, I'd be surprised. I miss my car. Just sayin'.

Here are a few pics of our new house. Nice things about our house: family room/kid's area is FAR away from public spaces and my bedroom. The yard is professionally landscaped and gorgeous, even in winter.
Our Charleston/Victorian style home.
Our living room with the furniture we bought from the previous owners. We needed the furniture to populate this room, and they let it go for a song. It's really nice furniture, and it showed me how shabby the rest of my furniture was in comparison. :/

The breakfast nook. New table of solid wood with just a tiny ding on the corner that made it MUCH more affordable. :)

The backyard playset. And patio. And yes, that is a tree growing up through the patio.

The rest of the backyard. There are no fences, but the previous owners used greenery to create separation. Nice, huh?

Bad things: the kitchen is TINY. But that can also be a good thing, since I can clean it fast. ;p There are beautiful wood floors. I hate wood floors. Too temperamental. But luckily I made sure the kids don't walk in the house with shoes on or come in the front door. Which is glass. Crazy. But good for letting in light.

Last but not least is a few seconds of the tremendous rainstorm we had last week. It rained/sprinkled for six days and then just poured for another 24 hours. The final totals for OUR town was 3.25 INCHES of rain in those 24 hours. Total crazy sauce. I've been assured by our neighbors that it was not normal for the area, so here's hoping we don't see that for a while. :p

Monday, December 17, 2012

Before and After

Here's our primary activity on Saturday, riding on a train around the neighborhood driven by the bishop.
Here is today. Stomach flu.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Year In Review

I got an iPhone this year for my birthday, and finally started taking pictures. And then left them all on my phone. And felt guilty.
Here are a few photos to document our year. :)
My first picture. Kendall thrilled at the prospect. We're in our favorite Chinese restaurant.
Two of my ANWA friends at the conference in February where I won...

1st place in the BOB contest, for a book that is currently languishing while I finish "Death Gets A Life".

The Mexican poppies that bloom in late Feb and March all over the Arizona hills. My favorite desert flower since our first move to Arizona 12 years ago.

Benji handing me one that wilted in 5 minutes. So pretty but so delicate.

We took a drive one Sunday to see all the flowers and took a back road back to town, about 10 miles along a dirt road. We took a break  at a picnic site and I found these little flowers struggling out from under some rock.

Meri, Andrew, and Benji hamming it up.

One thing about the desert: the sunsets and moon sets are incredible. Here it is about 6:30 in the morning and the moon is setting over Mount Graham. I will miss the grand vistas here.

My birthday cake, with the bakery's attempt at poppies...kinda look like roses, don't they?

Benji with his favorite food: anything with sugar. He has a nose for the stuff like no one I know. Except maybe me.

In April we made an unexpected and poignant trip to Utah to attend the funeral of my Grampa Collins. He was buried in the same cemetery as Kendall's mom, and as we hadn't had the opportunity to see her gravestone, we took a few minutes to visit her after Grampa's funeral. Meri picked little purple wildflowers growing in the field just next to the grave and put tiny bouquets on each corner of the headstone.

All the kids at the cemetery, trying to show the snow on the mountains that day.

We also stopped to visit Kendall's dad and had to go visit the cows at the farm where we lived for several years. Still don't like the cows.

Meri and Andrew look like they're strolling in the sunshine, but it was cold and a bitter wind and they were both running to me for their jackets.

Our attempt to corral all the grandkids for a picture before we all left to our respective states.

All the kids piled up on each other. It seems to happen a lot around here.

Sarah and her best friend Shelea for their joint birthday party, Hunger Games themed. And yes, their lips look weird because they'd painted them blue.

Texas sheetcake with the Hunger Games logo made out of chocolate and yellow sugar.

All the "food" for the party, also following the theme. They had a great time. A lot of work though. :)

Meri got baptized in May as well. Grandma and Grandpa Collins came down for a few days for the occasion.

We went and showed them the Gila Valley Temple, and Grandpa couldn't figure out why there was a train track running right next to it. What can you say? The train track was there first for the cotton farms. :)

In June I had a getaway with the sisters and Mom. Here we are getting our pedis.

Sarah went on Pioneer Trek, and here is the dress I had to make in just a few days between a writer's retreat (where the a/c blew and everyone at home sweltered in 100 degree heat) and the trek. Very pioneerish, huh?

This happens way too much around here.

Our family vacation to Utah during the July 4th holiday. This is only Superior, about 1 1/2 hours away from Safford. And the last picture without a cast on Andrew's arm, since when we stopped in Delta to visit Lisa and Julian, he slipped and broke his arm and had a cast for the rest of the summer break.

We still went to Lagoon, and while the bigger kids ran around with their cousins, we had Benji and Andrew with us. You can't see his left arm, which was in a splint the whole day.

Also Lagoon. Having lots of exhausting fun.

We stayed at the condo for the week. Here are Meri and Benji playing on the splash pad. Andrew was so disappointed about not being able to swim, he and Kendall just hung out a lot so I could take the other two kids to get wet.

Grandma, Tina, little Alan and Maggie came up to play and swim at the condo one day. Sarah was great and played with Maggie in the water. Alan and Benji had a great time playing.

Popcicles. Yum.

Part of the Oliphant family gathering at Lynette's house. In Kendall's past, his grandfather used to hold the hose so the kids could slide down the hill in their backyard. Lynnette had a similar hill, so they did the same thing. By this time Andrew had a waterproof cast on, so the child on the slide at that moment is actually Andrew. His arm hurt afterward, though.

Here is Kendall and all of his siblings, with Dad at the bottom. They are in order by age, so it goes Pauline, Lynnette, Kerry, Melanie, Lisa, Trent, Travis, Kendall, Laura, and Tyler. It was a great reunion that the kids enjoyed immensely.

The thanksgiving dinner made from tootsie rolls that Sarah made on the trip.

What happens when the kids get a hold of my phone in the car.

Mr. Coolio.

A stop in Flagstaff at a Greek restaurant. Pretty good food. Pouring rain.

Andrew with his cast.

The county Fair in October, face painting by our good friend the Karen Fox.

Author Jenni James and me hanging out.

A trip to the Copper Steer with a one hour wait and bad food. Supposed to be "the" restaurant in town here.

Fall in North Carolina. This is parking lot of the church building in Forest City.

The house we are in the process of buying. Gack. I hate the house buying process.

The adorable local library.

Thanksgiving dinner, with Kendall home. Sorry for the blurry pic.

Our single bush outside. Meri decorated it with gleaned from the leftovers at the local cotton field.

Dog pile. Also a common occurrence around here.

Our teeny-tiny Christmas tree so it will go down easy after Christmas.

Andrew eating his enormous sandwich for his birthday lunch. 
So there we are. The year isn't over, and the biggest part of it comes after the Christmas holiday. And I probably won't add much more after today. But consider yourself caught up, lol.