Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Something else to worry about

Hudson very quickly learned how to scale the rock wall to get up to the fort on his new play set. However, watching him do it scares the daylights out of me. He always wobbles at the top, but looks so stinkin' proud once he's up there!

Up he goes.

That is about the point where I start to watch him with my fingers over my eyes. It seems like he is going to tumble over that left side.

Then he pulls himself up onto the landing, and I can breathe again.

He looks pretty content up there on his new perch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Level 3

I am so proud of Evan! He passed Level 2 in swimming lessons and is on to Level 3. Well, sort of. We are taking a two-week break, and hopefully we'll get him signed up for the 3rd session so he can continue making great progress.

He is now able to glide on his belly with his face in the water, and he can flip over and do a back float. Next step is learning how to add in arms and legs to actually start swimming. Great progress from last year.

Evan had some busy days last week. He not only had swimming lessons every night, but he went to basketball camp in the morning. Coach ran him around and taught him some great basketball skills. By the evening, the poor kid was ready to crash.

He needed to take a little break before heading to lessons!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Give me a nibble

There is a part in the movie Madagascar where Alex bites Marty on the butt because he sees him as a piece of meat rather than his friend the zebra. There is a line that goes with it that goes something along the lines of, "What's a little nibble among friends?"

For some reason that is a major catchphrase around this house. We use it in all sorts of situations. For instance, when Hudson is biting Evan, we'll say, "What's a little nibble among brothers?" and then run to grab Hudson off his screaming brother.

As I took this photo of Hudson begging for bites of Eric's cereal I said the phrase to them. "What's a little nibble between father and son?"

Another phrase we use even more from that movie is, "Smile and wave boys. Smile and wave." We tend to use this one when things are just nuts. Rather than try to make sense of things, we just smile and wave. Kind of like we've been doing for the past six months. Smile and wave.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shoe Fetish

Hudson has a serious shoe fetish. However, it is only a fetish for shoes that aren't his.

Here is he clomping around in my sandals. I don't know how many times I have told him that black sandals just don't go with his brown/tan shirt! He just won't listen to my fashion advice.

Balancing on wedge sandals can be tricky, so Hudson decided to switch to some comfy tennis shoes.

Walking around in shoes three times too big can wear a guy out. Must rest.

The wee one has also been spotted with my slippers, my crocs, his brother's shoes, and my flip flops. He keeps us laughing.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Eric has a kidney tumor. We have known about it since March when he was admitted to the hospital with pancreatitis. I just chose not to blog about it until now. Too scary.

As awful as Eric's ordeal was in March, the blessing of it was that the tumor was discovered during one of his many scans at the hospital. It was also discovered early. The tumor is 3 centimeters which classifies it as the lowest level, or stage, of cancer. (From what I understand, anything under 7 cm. is considered Stage I, which is where you want to be if you have cancer.) If he hadn't been sick or hospitalized, we might never have discovered the tumor until there was blood in the urine or until it was too late.

Eric has been to many appointments since March to figure out what to do next. The doctors have told us that kidney tumors are cancerous 90 percent of the time. Given that fact, Eric had a bone scan to rule out cancer anywhere else in his body. That was negative, thank goodness.

We know that the entire kidney will need to come out. Because of where the tumor is located, they can't just cut out that part. However, Eric had to have a procedure done today to determine if the tumor is just in the kidney, or if it is also growing into or from the ureter, which is the tube leading from the kidney to the bladder.

The procedure Eric went through today determined that the tumor is just in the kidney, which is the result we were hoping for. They had to put him to sleep and insert a contrast dye to see where the tumor was growing.

Eric is in a lot of pain. I won't go into details, but he's hurting.

I truly did not enjoy being at the hospital, even if this particular hospital does look more like a doctor's office than a hospital. I saved my tears until the doctor told me he was okay, then he thought I was a nutcase for crying. I told him that it's been a tough month. I could have said a tough 6 months, but why be melodramatic?

After a minor mess up with the medication (it got sent to Longs instead of Vons), Eric is resting and trying to eat. I am trying to make him as comfortable as possible.

Kidney cancer has been on my mind since March. I'm tired. I'm scared. I'm trying not to be. I'm trying to thank God that we found this early. I'm trying to turn my brain off for a bit to give me a break from thinking.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can we build it? Yes we can!

I took the boys to see the Bob the Builder exhibit at the Fresno Metropolitan Museum. I must say, it was a lot of fun, and I was impressed. It had tons of fun stuff to do for both boys at their respective age levels. It was a lucky day that it only cost $2.50 to get in, but it was an unlucky day that it only cost $2.50 to get in! It was super duper crowded. Still, I enjoyed the morning.

Hudson tries to put puzzles pieces in their spot. He found a golf ball and wouldn't let go of it for the duration of our visit. Also, he loves wearing this hat and rarely takes it off.

This thing was cool. It sucked the golf ball up 10 feet or so, and then dropped it into a peg maze. Evan liked it.

Oh dear I just love this face.

You put the ball in here, and it pops out down there!

This was a neat activity. You had to try to make the ball roll uphill. Evan didn't quite get it to roll, but liked dropping the ball into the holes below.

This was my favorite exhibit. There was a blast of air pushing the beach ball up high. It was fun to see.

Hudson liked it too!

Oh if he were only this helpful at home. Evan liked the overall exhibit, but Bob the Builder was never really "his" cartoon. Now if a Dora or Diego exhibit ever comes to the museum, I'm going to need to get an annual membership so we can be there every day!

Hudson says, "I can help too!" Evan sure loves it when Hudson "helps" with something he's doing. Hmmmm, kind of like when Evan wants to "help" me. I know, that's mean.

This is the only shot I got of these two monkeys standing together both sort of looking at the camera...or at least facing the camera. Right after I took the picture, Hudson started screaming for dear life because he realized there were other kids in the museum! He's got a general fear of strangers. There were at least 50-60 kids there the whole time, but apparently it took him a while to notice!

I love being able to do stuff like this with the kids during the summer. Makes me happy. Makes the kids happy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

San Franciso through Eric's lens

Here is a bit more to round up our San Francisco trip. These photos are all from Eric's camera. He got some pretty cool shots of the city.

Evan in front of a seal statue near the Wharf.

I could sit and watch the sea lions bark all day long at Pier 39.

I would love to be able to see views like this everyday. So pretty.

I find this photo fascinating. I think it is pretty, confusing, boggling. I would love to live there for a week and then go back home to my wide open spaces. It just always makes me stare and try to imagine what living in a "tall" city would be like.

Evan hanging out on one of the piers with the city in the background.

I was so irritated that this photo came out blurry and with a sullen looking child in it. I love the Ghirardelli sign in the background and all the pretty flowers. Now just try to imagine it clear and sharp and with a happy kid standing there!

I see this picture and the Wiggles' song "San Francisco Cable Car" pops into my head.

I loved seeing the Giants game, I loved going to the Wharf, but my favorite thing was riding a cable car for the first time. Loved it!

The SF vacation posting is now officially over. Unless I find some random picture that I absolutely have to post. But I doubt that will happen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cable Car Video

Here is a video of us riding on the cable car in San Francisco. As we zoomed by the houses and stores, I kept wondering how people fit their furniture inside the tiny doorways! It's a place I love to visit, but not a place I'd want to live. I prefer my empty cul de sac for everyday living.

The process of getting the cable cars turned around was really neat to watch. We got on the cable car at the Wharf and had to get off at the downtown "end of the line." That's where the cars all get switched and turned to face the right direction. We waited in line to get back on and go back to the Wharf.

It was a quick line with so much to watch. There was even a rowdy homeless man who poked me in the shoulder. He was yelling and screaming at the cable car employees who finally called the police. Eric didn't realize that the man had poked me, otherwise I'm not sure what he (Eric) might have done. Eric is a tall guy, but the homeless man was a little out of his mind. The police cuffed the guy and put him in their car. Little Man Forcey's eyes were about popped out of his head to watch a "live" COPS scene take place right in front of him! Better than TV!

There are also a bunch of pictures of San Francisco from Eric's camera, but I think I'll save those to share in tomorrow's post!

San Francisco

We went to San Francisco a few weeks ago, but I was never in the mood to post pictures or write about it until today. We thought it would be great for Evan to see a real Giants game after playing on the Giants T-ball team.

Evan always gets a little nutty when we go to a hotel. He was super excited to find out that his very own bed pulled out from the couch, and he could literally step from his bed to ours without touching the floor! So cool...according to him!

We are in the Giants stadium overlooking the bay. Goodness but I love it when I can see the ocean. Notice that Evan is bundled in a heavy coat while Eric is in a short sleeved shirt. The man rarely gets cold. You won't see many photos of me, but I was bundled in a winter coat as well. Evan is still in his baseball uniform from his game earlier in the day.

Coke slide in the background. I actually went down the slide with Evan. Evan got the little bear free as we walked into the stadium. It's a cute little teddy bear.

Such a Daddy's boy.

Okay, so one picture of me. See, I was cold. But I would rather be cold than hot.

Riding on a cable car. I had never done this before, so I was really excited to be on a real live cable car!

The cable car let us off just a few blocks from Ghirardelli Square. We had to go in for a hot fudge sundae!

Gotta get every last drop.

Evan has never seen a street performer. He had fun trying to give him a dollar as the robot man jerked around and teased him.

Our SF trip was great. Many memories were made. I can't wait to go back when both boys are older.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

There was not much rest and relaxation going on for Eric this Father's Day. He spent his day finishing the construction of the swing set, otherwise known as "The Park." Evan used that term for our old swing set when he was little.

Before anyone starts thinking what an awful wife I am, let me just say that finishing the park was Eric's idea. He was the one who said last night, "Let's get up early and finish the park." I agreed with his plan figuring we could at least go out for ice cream to officially celebrate FD.

The boys swinging on the glider.

Evan pretty much had to do all the work in making the glider swing. Hudson was just along for the fun ride.

Hudson can't reach to sit on the swing, so he improvises. I guess Evan thought it looked fun as well.

Still having fun.

These two monkeys better enjoy this playset FOREVER! It was a royal pain to construct. And I was just the construction assistant. The directions might as well have been written in Chinese for as much as I could figure out. Luckily Eric is fluent in Chinese swing set directions, but even he got frustrated with many parts of the process.

There are still a few more steps to go: ground stakes, awning, and slide, but at least it is at a point where the boys have access to the structure and can have fun. I intend to kick their little tushes outside for the rest of the summer!

As for the rest of Father's Day. Well, we never did go for ice cream. I went to the store and bought ice cream, and Eric bbq'ed steak for us for dinner. We spent the day outside as a family. In my opinion, it doesn't get much better.

Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, the boys are in their pajamas. These photos were taken at about 4 p.m. They never did get dressed today. It was just one of those kind of days!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We had KFC for dinner with our two sides of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. For some reason Hudson decided to stop using his fork. This is what ensued. Pure grossness! (By the way, the nasty thing on the end of his nose is not a booger, it's mashed potato!)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sneaky, Brave, and Baseball


I didn't get to the camera fast enough to catch what Hudson was doing moments before he climbed out of the corner he is NOT supposed to be near in the first place. I stack blankets in that corner, and Hudson was lying on his back against the stack of blankets drinking his milk. Little sneak. As soon as he heard me, he started to jump out of there. I caught him as he was trying to pretend he was doing nothing wrong!


Evan was a brave boy today. At least I thought what he did was pretty brave for a 4 1/2-year-old. We went to McDonald's for lunch. I forgot to order apple pie when I originally ordered our food, so I asked Evan if he would go back to the register and ask for two apple pies. I gave him a dollar and 10 cents. I thought he'd get shy on me, but he took the money, waited patiently in line, and ordered two pies. The best part to him was that he got a penny in change! He came running back to the play area proclaiming that he got a penny! I just don't remember being willing to go to a register or speak to adults at his age, so I was impressed.

By the way, I love McDonald's pies, and you can't beat the price at two for a dollar! My school has done two McTeacher nights now, and I usually end up selling pies and cookies. Good pie. Good deal.

To finish up the happenings of today, Eric arranged something pretty special for Evan. We were supposed to go to Evan's team party the day my dad was in the hospital, but that didn't happen. Evan never received his special end of the year trophy which is in the shape of a small engraved bat. It's really cute. Eric's boss, Greg, is very into baseball, so he offered to present Evan with the bat at his team's practice this afternoon.

The kids on Greg's team are all gathered around to hear the presentation. Evan didn't know any of this was going to happen.

Greg shows Evan his bat engraved with his name and team name.

It's hard to believe the season is over. This little guy is such an athlete. Not only is he good, but he truly enjoys being out on the ball field playing his heart out. Not once did we have to tell him to hustle during practice. He always took great care of his equipment and was devastated if we threatened to take T-ball away for misbehavior. I am looking forward to many hours sitting on various athletic fields watching this child have fun.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Swimming Lessons and Loose Elastic

We are once again taking Evan to swimming lessons in the evening. He loves it. He freaked out a bit the first day, but once he was in the water he had no problems. Well, the only problem is that he weighs all of 39 1/2 pounds, and he is so cold when his half hour lesson is over that he can't stop chattering. We have to bring sweats in the car for him to change into just so his teeth will stop clacking together.

Hudson had a little trouble today with his pants. It was my fault for dressing him in shorts that had very loose elastic. Poor kid's pants were falling down all day! By the end of the day he was getting pretty irritated by his plight! I can't say that I blame him. Those shorts are no longer a part of his wardrobe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


When I was in junior high and high school, my dad was the person who always helped me write my speeches for school, competitions, or graduations. Well, here I am talking to family, friends, and loved ones. Only this time, my dad wasn’t there to help me write this one. But in a way, he was sitting right by my desk as I tapped away at the keyboard, putting my memories down on paper.

It has been a tremendously difficult week for my mom, my sister and me. However, the outpouring of love and support has been a blessing helping us cope with the sudden and unexpected loss of my dad.

As friends and family visit or call, a similar theme keeps popping up as they recount memories and stories about my dad, and that is one of welcoming. Dad was always welcoming. As my dearest friend wrote to me, “Your dad never minded having one more in the car!” I guess there was a reason we had a 9-passenger station wagon for a 4-member family! We were always toting other kids around.

My dad was happiest when all of us kids were at the house with all of our friends. I think he just liked having all of his chickens where he knew they were safe.

One word I would use to describe my dad is a fighter. As many of you know, he suffered from a debilitating arthritis that hindered his ability to stand up straight. However, he never let that stop him from doing anything, and it taught me at a very young age not to discriminate towards people with differences.

I remember my dad walking me to school one day in first grade, and I overheard other kids teasing and asking what was wrong with dad. Understandably it upset me, because I never saw my dad as someone who looked different. He was just my dad. But it was a great lesson in tolerance that I hope to pass on to my own children. Never judge someone based on how they look. Get to know people based on their character.

My dad may not have been very athletic, but that didn’t stop him from riding bikes with us as a family, or throwing a softball around to my sister and me, or heading off deep sea fishing with Johnny. My dad may not have been able to do a lot of physical things, but he was always there in the ways that counted. In all the years growing up, I don’t think he ever missed a game, awards ceremony, dance recital, or competition.

My dad was also a fighter in his career. He worked for the United States Post Office for 43 years. I can remember going to visit him at his post office in Madera, and seeing how he had to stand on a little box to be able to reach to sort his mail. I can also picture him arriving home from work after having walked his mail route in those blistering hot valley summers. That couldn’t have been easy toting all that mail around. He was never going to let his disability stop him from working. In these last few months when he was experiencing more and more pain, I think pride in his job gave my dad a reason to get up and get moving each day. Sometimes my mom would ask him to stay home, but Dad had a job to do.

He always strived to become a Post Master. Finally in 2000 he achieved that goal and became the Post Master at the Santa Rita Park Post Office. It’s a little one-man country post office located off Highway 152, but Dad took great pride in delivering good service. Dad taught me that a good work ethic is important. Be early to work, do a good job, and complete your tasks. His customers are going to miss him.

Dad had a strong belief in God and was a steadfast member of this church since we moved to town back in 1978. He has served on the church council for most of that time. His faith in God never wavered. When times were tough, he never asked why or blamed God. He just continued forward with his faith, believing that God has a reason for everything.

My dad was also a strong believer in education. He saw a need in his community back when my sister and I were in grade school, and decided to run for a seat on the elementary school board. He didn’t get elected on his first try, but that fighting spirit kicked in, and Dad ran again in another election and won a seat on the board. He served the children of Chowchilla for 17 years. He was always a fair man who listened to both sides of any story before making decisions.

My dad was so proud of my sister and me for pursuing higher education. This may be a dangerous thing to say here in Bulldog country, but Dad used to be a diehard USC Trojan fan. However, I can honestly say he switched his allegiance and is a true blood Bulldog fan. A couple of years ago my husband and I took Dad to USC to watch them play against Fresno State. I am proud to say he rooted for the correct team in his Bulldog sweatshirt! He loved going to Fresno State football games or attending a women’s softball game.

However, before Dad was a Bulldog fan, he was a Chowchilla Redskin fan. He used to take us girls to the Friday night games in the fall. My mom always stayed home to watch Dallas! I used to get mad because I longed to be like the other girls who got to walk around the stadium with their friends. My dad would have none of that. We had to sit there on the bleacher right next to him. Now I understand why he would never have dreamed of letting us wander. He didn’t want anything to happen to us. Just last year my family went with my dad to the Chowchilla playoff football game. I was instantly transported back to being a 7-year-old little girl sitting with my dad on a cold Friday night. This particular game was even more special because my oldest son got to be there with his Grandpa.

My dad was married to my mom for nearly 45 years. I don’t think I realized how blessed I was to have two parents who were still married to each other until I moved away to college and met many kids who were from broken families. It gave me such an appreciation for my parents. My dad never left the house without kissing my mom. The words “I love you” were always spoken in our house. Dad was never afraid or too manly to show his emotions.

Dad loved being a dad. We used to joke that he and my mom prayed and prayed for ten years to have kids. He was always happy to have his two girls. He never needed boys to make his family complete. As it turned out, he got his boys in the form of grandkids!

As a little girl, I used to get up with Dad when he would get ready for work. He’d drink his coffee, and he would make me hot chocolate to enjoy. I used to call those mornings my honeymoons with dad. He used to let me stand on a chair behind him and put barrettes in his hair! He was also my fierce protector. He read the riot act to a high school boyfriend informing him that he expects anyone who dates his daughters to treat them like precious gems! I’ll never forget my first date with husband…my dad went along in the backseat! That is fatherly protection!

My sister and my dad had an especially close relationship. My mom and I would joke that they would irritate each other when we were around, but when it was just the two of them, they were best friends. Every year at the Chowchilla Fair, Dad and Tiff would create a garden entry. The two of them loved getting dirty together! Dad and Tiff also had a tradition of going to the Fresno zoo together and enjoying San Francisco 49’er football games on TV while hanging out in our living room.

Dad loved being a grandpa. Eleven years ago when the first of his four grandsons was born, his pride swelled to immense proportions. Grandpa loved getting down on his hands and knees to play with his grandbabies. He was always bringing little toys home from the Post Office to give to the boys. My oldest son carried around his Post Office Sea Lion for months. That sea lion is never leaving my home.

I am so grateful my dad was able to meet all of his grandchildren. It saddens me to know that he won’t see them graduate from high school, get married, or have children of their own, but I know he is looking down on us, his heart still swelling with pride.

I will never forget trips to the lake every summer, Friday nights at the concerts in the park, hiking in Yosemite and joking with my dad to “Go Climb a Rock,” being woken up on Sunday mornings by my dad playing an obnoxious little horn, good old fashioned gospel music blaring through the house getting ready for church, my dad always telling us to “Look at the bird!” while we were driving in the car, him watching old reruns of Lawrence Welk, and his love of hard candy. I think I get my love of candy from him!

There are so many memories. Instead of spending a lot of money when we were kids, my parents would do things like take us to the park. Dad would create obstacle courses for us and time us as we ran around the swings, up the slide, down the slide and back again. I remember Dad giving me quizzes in the car. This was back in the day when seatbelts were optional. I’d hang over the front seat while Dad asked me question after question such as my name, address, and phone number. Even then he was preparing me for life.

To this day I can’t drive by fields of cows without hearing my dad’s voice say, “Hi cow! Thank you for my milk!” And every time we get stopped for a passing train, I have an urge to “pick a color” because as kids we’d each pick a color of train car to count. Dad usually got the ugly colors like brown! I remember going out for Pedro’s Pizza every payday. I remember going to the rodeo every year. Most of all, I just remember my dad always being there. His presence in our lives was solid.

My dad was fighting right up to the very end. As we gathered around his bed in the hospital and told him how much we loved him, even through the sedation and medication, he wiggled his shoulder and made a small sound to let us know he heard us. Dad, I know you are watching and listening right now. We are going to carry on down here until we can be with you again. Maybe you are up there delivering God’s mail. One thing I definitely know is that you are no longer hurting. I love you Daddy.


Of course after Saturday's memorial service I thought of many more things to write about. I could have talked about my dad and me playing in the handbell choir at church. Dad could barely see the music, but he just pulled the book closer to the edge of the table.

I could also have talked about the time he rescued me when I was left behind from a houseboat trip my freshman year in college. Dad just happened to be in Sacramento for a school board conference. He picked my sad crying self up and let me camp out with him at his hotel for the weekend. That was a special time.

I meant to write about how my dad always gave everyone funny nicknames. He was the one who named my sister Foo Foo and her best friend Stink! Those names literally stuck for years. Both Tiffany and Alison responded to the nicknames when we called them! Dad also drove my Aunt Lesle crazy by calling her Esoog. She always wanted to know what it was. I'm sure he finally told her it was Goose spelled backwards.

I could have talked about my dad's love of animals. He always loved having dogs around the house. He loved our little Dachshund named Cloey. He even took her to work with him. My mom said the other day that Dad probably found Cloey in heaven.

These are just a sprinkling of some of the other memories I could have added. It helps to remember all those good times, so forgive me if I share memories here in future posts.