Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Fruits

I think we've mentioned before that we bought ourselves an orange tree for Christmas and planted it about a month ago.

It's so cute and green, and it has two oranges on it! :)

Being orange tree novices, Adam and I each separately consulted with an orange orchard expert (Luke) and asked him the question that had been plaguing us for a month:

How do you know when to pick an orange off the tree?

We waited expectantly for his answer. We needed to get it right, seeing as there are only two fruits to pick. Wisely, he told us the signs.

"You pick it when it's orange."

Aha! We thought! Now we are equipped with the knowledge that we've been missing. We looked at our two oranges and noticed that they are both orange. So, we picked one today!

What did we do with it, you ask? Well, we thought about juicing it to make orange juice, but it was already afternoon, and we only drink orange juice in the morning.

We thought about making a fruit salad, but we only had tomatoes to go with it.

We thought about canning it, jamming it, or making a pie out of it, but we didn't feel like it.

So, we divided it into 5 sections, and we all shared our first juicy orange from our very own orange tree.

Maybe when we pick the second orange, we'll turn it into a cobbler and share it with you. :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Look at What Disneyland did to us!

Coming home from trips is hard!!

I feel a little like this: SPLAT.

And my children, who NEVER sleep in, slept in. Lizzie woke up at 9:40 am. That's definitely a lifetime record for her.

Eli was appalled that he would have to return to regular life after this vacation.

I woke Ivy up at 10 am, and she kind of stared at things most of the day.

And Adam gave one final push for an important day of work and came home and we got got fast food for dinner and stared at the wall together.

Disneyland has ruined us!

ahh, but it was worth it! :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feeling the magic

Did you know that the Blue Bayou Restaurant gives you dessert in the shape of a pirate ship and treasure box? And it's all edible - even the mast?

Did you know that even the parking attendants at Disneyland are incredibly competant and friendly?

Did you know that Ivy drives like Mr. Toad? She showed us today on Autotopia. :)

Did you know Eli was so excited this morning to go to Disneyland that he actually ran laps in the hotel room?

Did you know that by the time we had been in Disneyland for a couple hours, we'd spent an average of a dollar a minute?

Did you know that "mouse-ka-totally" is my new favorite catch phrase?

Did you know that it's not a great idea to play "Look-alike" in long lines when you might run into the daughter of the very person you were just about to call out as a look-alike? What is that? Karma? Fate? Bad luck? Are we the only family that plays this game? You know, "Look, it's Bill Clinton!" and then you all surreptitiously look at the Bill Clinton look-alike two rows in front of you and then giggle. Subtlety is the name of the game.

Did you know that we're pretty cheap, because we took a picture of our purchase-able Space Mountain picture with Adam's cell phone.

Did you know that there's no need to be unproductive in a long line: Matt was continually doing bar dips and pullups from every ledge and bar possible!

Did you that Adam scored 288,000 in the Astro Blaster game?? It didn't hurt that the ride stalled 3 or 4 times...

And finally, did you know that singing "Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me" at the top of your lungs in the dark Pirates of the Carribean Cave with your whole family is about the best thing imaginable? Yep, it is. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On Being Prepared

You know that you're not prepared to give your lesson on preparedness when you run out of gas on the 2 minute drive to church.

And you're an hour late anyway.

Since you had to clean the kitchen before you could find the counter to make breakfast.

And because you slept in.

Since you played too hard and stayed up too late the night before.

Instead of planning your lesson.

Not to mention, earlier in the day you were installing sprinklers, and removing the wooden clothes-line and hauling it to the front with other large debris.

Which is why you were so exhausted the next morning.

Lesson learned.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mystery Trip

I've been torturing our children.
No, really, I have.
On Tuesday, we told the kids that we have big news and that we're going on a trip.
We told them we'd be gone for 3 days, and that we're leaving on Sunday.
But we didn't tell them where!
And every day this week, I've been sending them on wild goose chases to throw them off the trail, and basically giving them no more information.

Day #1:

Day #2

Day #3

Finally Erin came last night! We had a special scavenger hunt this morning!

I was especially proud of rhyming "frisbee and" "Disneyland"...The kids had to unscramble the letters to figure it out. It took until D-I-S-N and then the lightbulb went on!!

California, here we come!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

'Stauches, Stanton, & Bajawma

Wednesday's 'Stauche: The Bruiser Sunday's almost-lost -forever-but found-under-the-bed Moustache: The Hollywood

And now, the anticipation is over, the Third Grade Wax Museum was today! Here is our very own Elizabeth Cady Stanton, writer of the Declaration of Sentiments, and founder of the Women's Rights Movement:
The parents entered the room and all the children were still as statues. I mean wax. They were each holding a poster that was blank except for a large "button" that said "ON." When a parent touched this button, the wax figure suddenly came to life, telling the bystanders all the interesting and important facts of themselves. They each ended with saying, "Who am I?" and the parent would have to guess.
Yep, we sprayed her hair brown and curled it into ringlets! I mean, when do you get to do that for school, right? Not often enough, I say!

In other news, did you know Barack Obama came to Phoenix yesterday? Well, as a matter of fact, he did. Just ask Adam, he saw the whole thing. Adam works in building that has a view of the Sky Harbor Airport runway, and the way he tells it, yesterday afternoon, before Obama arrived, his cargo plane arrived, with his whole entourage, which includes: his helicopters, black armored cars (like three), and then, Air Force One flew in later that day, and all around the airport, they had roads shut down, police guarding underpasses and protecting roads, and before he landed, they shut down the runway, all of a sudden all the commercial airplanes stopped flying, and two helicopters started flying around in these strange formations to make sure it was safe. And after they landed, the helicopters went away.
Then this morning as Adam drove to work he looked on the runway, and there was Air Force One, sitting on the tarmac, next to the huge cargo plane. I don't care who you voted for, the office of the president is inspiring as an American.

Lizzie was personally affronted that she wasn't able to see the President, with him stopping in the neighborhood and all. So, I recorded his speech that he made this morning in Mesa. Tonight, we watched a few minutes of it before the kids went to bed. There was lots of cheering in the crowds, of course, and when we turned the tv off, Ivy jumped off the couch yelling, "Yay! Bajawma! Yay Bajawma!!" Which of course meant, "Yay Obama." We were in hysterics laughing at her.

And that concludes the news from the Stewart household.

I think I'm going to put my bajawmas on and go to bed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Old-Fashioned Kids...

Monday's Moustache: The Hero Tuesday's Moustache: The Square

You know, usually it takes me a while to get this boy up in the mornings. I was anticipating extra wake-up time today especially, after coming off of a three day weekend.

But lo and behold, this morning I come in his room, (and I'm still waking up), and he says to me exuberantly, "Hello!!" and I looked at him, and he had his Tuesday moustache on.

For Lizzie, tomorrow is the big day she's been preparing for: The Third Grade Wax Museum! Yesterday, we perfected her Elizabeth Stanton costume, and she posed like she was in an old-fashioned picture.

Matt likes to DANCE!

You'll have to watch this on facebook - it's not on YouTube yet! Totally worth the extra clicks.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Get your tickets!

At rehearsal tonight for Phoenix Symphony Chorus, we sang through the entire score of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. You know the big piece that starts out "O! For-tu-na!!!" really loud and then goes quiet and intense: "semper crescis" etc, etc, etc. With lots and lots of banging percussion? It has been in many a movie -most people will recognize that part. Well, I'd only sung that beginning part before. But after singing through all 25 sections, I found out that it is a very wild and intense piece! It is seriously so much fun to sing. It is going to be an amazing concert!

The concert isn't till April 23rd and 25, but you can check out more about it here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eli in 25 years.

So, Sherlock, whodunnit??
(We got a pack of 7 mustaches - one for each day of the week - at the Farm gift shop. I couldn't pass it up! I mean, have you ever seen fake mustaches for sale? The funny thing is that I wanted Eli to model all of them at once, but he refused, saying that they were each only to be worn on their day of the week. )

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Dancing Queen

Lizzie and Adam had a great time at the Valentine's Daddy-Daughter Dance last night!
Lizzie was really groovin'.

She was sooooo good at groovin', that she and Adam won the Dancing Contest!! They won some car cleaning supplies.

When she was spinning in her pretty dress, three girls approached her and said, "We love your dress! Will you twirl again?!"

She even makes the faces to go with.

She did not learn her moves from me.

She needs to give me some lessons!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Did you Know?

Here's my Facebook 25, except I think I'm breaking the rules by not putting it on Facebook but my blog instead:

1. When I was younger I was PAINFULLY shy and quiet in public. "In public" being the operative phrase.

2. I fall asleep at the drop of a hat on long freeway drives. It's pathetic. When we used to live in Provo, I would teach at my mom's house in Salt Lake City on Tuesday afternoons. On the 45 minute drive home, I would invariably have to pull over and take a nap.

3. I took a tap dance class in college and LOVED it! I still have my tap shoes - just in case.

4. I worked for Appleby's for a summer in college and despised every second I was there. But it was really good for me.

5. I have the entire movie of "The Little Mermaid" memorized. No, I'm not kidding. And no, I can't blame this on my children. I watched it a lot when it first came out.

6. I've never dyed my hair.

7. In Seventh Grade, my friend Sovijada Ly got me to try out the Track Team. I ran track and cross country for 5 years.

8. I don't really like running that much.

9. I'm a very committed person.

10. In high school, I practiced the violin for at least an hour every day. It's amazing what happens when you do that.

11. In Sixth grade, our class did a play. It was taken from the TV show that Kirk Cameron was in - can't remember the name...Anyway, as I said, back then, I was painfully shy, but deep down, I was a diva. It's a bad combination. So I got the part of the mother. I was the BORINGEST actress that ever was. At the end of the play, I was supposed to do an impromptu happy "dance." I think I developed an ulcer over this. I would have rather have been swallowed up by the lavatory than dance by myself in front of the entire 6th grade. I would have rather been eaten alive by maggots than dance in front of the entire 6th grade. I would have rather crawled inside a smelly rotten locker and licked it clean than dance in front of the entire 6th grade. I'm still surprised that I survived the three performances we had.

12. I love my family - all of my family - fiercefully.

13. When I was young, I used to stay up late at night to read. I would use my hot pink alarm clock for light. Maybe this is why my eyes are so bad?

14. I am taking conducting lessons. Did you know that you could take conducting lessons? I didn't. It is very cool. We have a stand, a metronome, music excerpts, and most importantly, a full-length mirror. It's a very nuanced skill to learn. My teacher is Jana Minov, and is one of my dear Serbian friends, and has a doctorate in conducting. She is amazing.

15. By writing all these random things, I'm avoiding mopping my kitchen floor. Which is really my motivation for most things in life. "If I'm not busy doing such-and-such, I might have no more excuses to not mop the kitchen floor!"

16. I'm singing the national anthem tomorrow for a gymnastics meet. I'm hoping Adam will mop the kitchen floor while I'm gone.

17. When Lizzie was first born, I was obsessed with Martha Stewart. This was because I realized how deficient I was in the "Homemaking Skills" category. It was bad. But soon enough, I was cooking meals, cleaning, organizing and crafting! If you want to learn a skill, Martha is there for you.

18. One cold winter, I even made wreaths out of ice with things like holly berries frozen in them. They were really pretty, and I would hang them outside near our Christmas garlands. It would be fun to make those again, but not in Arizona.

19. I really love flowers and want to plant a flower garden this year. My mom is an amazing gardener - maybe she can help me...

20. I think I like 30 Rock more than The Office now. Alec Baldwin and Liz Lemon are hi-lar-i-ous.

21. If you haven't tried strawberried dipped in sour cream and rolled in brown sugar, you are missing a fine thing in life.

22. I passed the AP Calculus Exam in High School. And then I never took any more math again. But I'm glad I took calculus - It was good for my self-confidence.

23. I used to have actual dreams at night that I was singing a role on Broadway. But I'm over it.

24. I have been going to Lifetime Fitness twice a week for 10 months, and they have yet to issue me a real card. I've asked them at least 4 times to replace my expired temporary card. "It should be mailed out to you in about 2 weeks" is the same response I always get. What do I have to do to prove my loyalty?! Sheesh!

25. I'm so looking forward to a romantic Valentine's Day dinner with the love of my life tomorrow night!


We had an extra serving of salt-water tears at dinner last night. It was served with the main course, and efficiently passed down the table.

It started with Lizzie, who was stabbing at her lettuce and finally broke down crying, saying, "I can't pick up my lettuce!" We all just looked at each other in disbelief.

A few seconds later, Ivy said something to Eli that went like this, "Hey, DUDE." And I suppposed her emphasis and inflection on the word "DUDE" was sending negative vibes to Eli, because he promptly crawled under the table and started bawling. Lizzie, (fully recovered from the lettuce episode), saw the humor in this and looked at us wide-eyed before trying to stifle her laughter.

Adam looked exasperated as he asked Ivy to apologize to Eli for calling him a "dude," but our sensitive little Ivy, not realizing she had done something so terrible, crumpled into tears.

Once everyone got it out of their system, we had a perfectly unemotional dinner!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm sorry, but I have just got to vent to someone.

Grrrrrr. GRRRRRRR!!



!@!@*#!*@&!@*^# !!! OH! Did I say that out loud??

grumble grumble grumble. GROUCH GROUCH!


Do you know what I mean?!?!


Grooooooannnn... As If!!

VENT, Breathe, VENT, Breathe.

sniffle, sniffle, pity pity pity.

I'm feeling a little better already.

But now I've burdened you with all this. You didn't need this!

coo coddle, love lovey. Bond.

Deep Breaths: in, out, in, out.


Thanks! I'm all better now!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ivy's a great swimmer!

Ivy has been taking swim lessons at EVO and she just graduated up to the next class level! She has come a LONG way from throwing a fit before every lesson. I'm so proud of her! You can read about her here on the WEB!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why it is so fun to have a lawn...

...and 75 degree weather to go along with it. I know, I know, all of you who are experiencing winter right now can complain, but I'll get my chance in July. And August. And September and October. And well into November.

But right now, it's Phoenix's turn.

P.S. they came back safely!

Here they are as they started out on their hike! I'm getting cold just looking at this picture. They had a great time! More pictures to come later! :)


One boy's headlamp is another girl's shining tiarra.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Dear Friend and Mentor is Honored!

Have you heard of "50 in 52?" I hadn't until tonight! Check out how cool this is:

THE JOURNEY EXPLAINED: 50 In 52 Journey is a Journey to find the people in America who are problem-solvers, idea-generators, people in their communities, in their cities, and in their States who are moving America forward. For each State we will ask you and your neighbors to :

NOMINATE - the problem solvers and idea-generators in your community
RALLY - for where you live. Let America know the best kept secrets of your neighborhood
THINK - Send us your ideas for how to solve the problems in your community

It turns out that a dear family friend, teacher, mentor, and inspiration was nominated to be interviewed for this project. I couldn't agree more. Her name is Betty Jeanne Chipman, and she is a voice teacher. She is 90 years old and she is still going strong, and still teaching voice students in her home! She is a wonderful woman and has been such an inspiration to me in my life.

Please enjoy her video interview! You will be uplifted and inspired - I felt that way with her after every voice lesson. She really treated me like a granddaughter, and she was there to guide me through many other challenges besides my vocal ones. And it was so fun because at the time I was studying with her, I was playing "Maria" in a community production of Sound of Music, and she loved reliving all her fond memories with me as she describes in the interview.

Thank you, Vickie, for forwarding this on to me! I couldn't agree more with her nomination!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Adam and the Storm

Adam left tonight for a big climb tomorrow. He'll be climbing Mt. Humphreys, the tallest peak in Arizona. It's part of a group of ancient volcanic peaks that make up the San Fransisco Peaks. Humphreys is 12,000 ft tall. But that's nothin. It used to be 14,000 feet tall until it exploded in a volcanic eruption. Just like Mt. St. Helen's (she blew her top and now she's just a crater...).

So it's a pretty serious hike in the summer, but Adam and some other adventurous friends - Adam Dibble and Kevin Pike - have been wanting to hike it in the winter. Now it's getting interesting.

When Adam is excited for a trip, he packs early. As he's been gathering his materials this week, he's been asking me things like, "Aimee, have you seen my ice saw?" To which I predictably and helpfully reply, "I'm pretty sure the last time I used it was when I needed to cut that loaf of crusty bread last Saturday."

Even more interesting is that the weather is calling for a storm to come in tomorrow. Sadly, it will just miss them. But, as Adam was packing up tonight he was reviewing the weather and told me excitedly, "They're predicting 40 mile per hour winds tomorrow morning!"

I said, rather rationally, "Blech! That sounds awful! What if you're on the ridge when it's blowing 40 mph?"

And he got this look in his eyes just like Eli does right before he starts playing his DS and said, "No! That's down below! It will get up to 60 mph winds above the tree line!"

Again, me, rationally, "Won't that just blow you right off the mountain? Like if you open up your jacket, you could just become a human parachute?!"

Adam, gleefully, looking past my shoulder as he pictures an imaginary wind storm on the ridgeline of Mt. Humphreys, "It's going to be AWESOME!!"

You can see the avalanche danger and trail map HERE,
or HERE.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stay away, Mopes. You're not welcome in this parking lot!

If you're happy and you know it, you might not be prosecuted. So turn that mopey face around!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eli's Field Trip to the farm!

I'm so glad I was able to go with Eli's Class on his fun Field Trip! :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And the Winners are...

I'm sure you all had walls that looked like this over the Christmas break:

It is now February 3rd, and I have finally come to grips with the fact that it's past time to take down my Christmas cards and letters.

Truly, it is one of the highlights of the season for me to hear from so many old friends from all over the country from so many facets of life over so many years! I just love it.

As I was pulling your awesome cards and letters off the wall finally today, I decided that there were several Christmas cards worth mentioning. I would even go so far as to say "award winning" worthy. You people went all out this year! And so, I now present to you the categories and winners of the Christmas Card Contest.

First Card Received:

This award is very prestigious. I mean, you have got to be On. The. Ball. to be able to accomplish this. I was impressed. I'm not kidding, on Dec. 1, I open the mailbox, and BAM! there it was.

Congratulations, Jesica and Evan Eastman! (and correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that a homemade card as well?) Wow. Extra bonus points for that!

Next we have the Best Family Photo Award. This was a competitive category, no doubt. But, I just loved the Ashton Family Picture! It's just Fabulous.
Okay, moving on to the Most Exotic Card. I had to make up a category for this card because it was so freaking awesome. Congratulations to Jack and Allison. They win because all these pictures were taken by them within the past year. Now that's Exotic! whoa.

Now for a potentially controversial and highly subjective category: Cutest Kids. Come on now, let's be honest. All of us send pictures to each other of our progeny, trying to capture just how insanely cute our own children are. And there were a LOT of cute kids. But, Heidi, seriously, it's just not fair. Two girls with blonde ringlets and then TWINS! And then there's their cute names! Lucy, Chelsea, Eliza, and Jillian! No competition. Congratulations!
Next up we have the Cleverest Letter Category. This is a highly competitive field with many many strong contenders, which is why I have personally dropped out of this race many years ago. This year, though, the winners definitely go to Alan and Vickie Eastman. Their whole year described in hilarious detail around numbers. It was clever, informative, and very funny!
For the category of Card from the Longest-Lost Friend, the winner is Kim Taylor! Holy crap! Last time I saw her I was 19 years old on a study abroad in Jerusalem. And I'm pretty sure she didn't have 5 kids then, but she looks EXACTLY the SAME! How did she do it?! Seriously, though, Kimmie, I'm so glad you tracked me down and sent me your card!

Now, for one of the highest honors of the night, we go to the category of Funniest Letter & Picture. Every year, this couple pulls it out, but this year, they surpassed even their own usual greatness. If I may be so bold as to quote for you their closing line,
"We hope you find ways this season to roast metaphorical chestnuts on the open fire Wall Street has made of our tax money. Happy Holidays!"
Nothing put me in the spirit of Christmas quite as quickly as this card did. Congratulations, Erin and John (who are posing in their picture as a Democrat and a Republican, respectively). Nicely done.

But then there is the category of "Most Elaborate Card" and some of you, (you know who you are), go a little crazy in this competition. But seriously, what is the point of trying to win this category when you've got Lisa Andrews in the competition.? Just go home and email it, people, you'll never even get close to this:

Mm, hmmm. That is why she is the Creative Scrapbook Goddess. Don't even try, people.

On the flip side, we have those who don't bother with the family photo, or even a "Card" at all in any form, and put all their eggs in one basket: words. This is a daring move. You have to be a powerful writer to have no bling but your semantics to draw the distractable Christmas-time- letter-receiver in. It has to be GOOD. The winner in this category knows he's so good, he doesn't even bother with a special font, borders, paper, clip-art - nothin. And every year when I open John and Jean Muir's Christmas letter, I stop whatever I'm doing, nestle into a comfortable position, and read the 2-page letter in its entirety. Yes, it's that good.
Don't believe me? Take this paragraph, for example:
"...Jean admitted that she too had made a great step out of her comfort zone by creating a family blog. When I queried her about its location and content, she admitted that, consistent with her private nature, she didn't have anything to say, so it is completely blank. That's OK with me since I don't want her blog to steal my Christmas letter mojo. Someday I may visit our family blog site to contemplate its emptiness in a Zen-like silence. If you ever stumble across it, you might consider it a rest stop on the information superhighway."
Like I said, no clip-art necessary!!
And finally, we have the Latest Christmas letter Received. I do not have this category to mock. I genuinely love all cards in all their arrival times. This way, I get to savor them longer. And for heaven's sake, if you know me, you know I could never knock down someone who is late. So, yes, Janet, even though you called it a "Valentine's Letter" you still qualify! And it's a good thing I kept my Christmas card wall up this long - you made it on for several days before they came down! :)

A sincere thank you to all our family and loved ones from all over the country for sending us Christmas cards! I miss you and love love love getting your fabulous cards, pictures and letters each year! If you didn't win this year, you may submit your entries again starting on Dec. 1st 2009. :)