30 December 2008

Proof of Purchase

This is dedicated to my brother Shawn, who cracks me up continually with his ingenious, original sense of humor. It was in fact Shawn who introduced this argument to me.

Why do they call the UPC (Universal Product Code) a "Proof of Purchase"? Could I walk out of a store without paying and show the ladies at Wal-mart or Sam's club the "Proof of Purchase" label instead of a receipt? Would that get me thrown in jail for shoplifting?

It does indeed imply that it's proof of a monetary transaction.

Don'tcha think?!?

(I'll let Shawn test it out before I try it...)

(I'm kidding Shawn, I know you'd never do that.)

(Hello, I wouldn't either!)

29 December 2008

O, Christmas Tree

I love my cute little dinky tree and all my ornaments. Considering I get it out TWICE a year (once for Christmas and once for our annual Christmas in July party) I must really love it! Every time I unwrap an ornament I remember Christmases past when we bought or received them. I cherish the brass and white snowflake ornaments Rob and I got on clearance after our first married Christmas. I remember buying my favorite Christkindlmarkt ornament, a delicate gold cutout of the Nativity. I think of my love of music and hearts, of traditional Christmas colors and of country fabric bows and simplicity and frugality. I haven't had glass ornaments on my tree since 1993 when a friend's little boy bit into a red one thinking it was an apple and cut up the inside of his mouth. Today I'll say goodbye to my tree once more as I carefully pack it up until I take it out again for one day in July. Until then, Auf Wiedersehen, sweet little tree.

26 December 2008

Behind The Scenes of a Christmas Photo Shoot

Of course what goes out on the Christmas card is a shot like this---

But what really happened while we were trying to get that ONE sort of okay, passable, somewhat decent shot was this---

Mom and Dad were smooching, kids were swinging, Corey was texting, Tyler was pulling his famous "everyone else looks awesome so I'll close my eyes now" custom, Ryan was connecting with his inner monkey, Riley almost elbowed Ryan in the face for running into her shot and Gabby had an owie and made sure Grandpa Harris kissed it better! Phew!

We're lucky we got anything remotely like this---

We were also lucky Grandpa Harris got to come out for a visit before Christmas. It was really nice having him! What made it even better was that Rob got to go out to Georgia a few days earlier to surprise his Dad for his birthday! And they fit in a bit of golfing! Then they came to Vegas on the same flight in seats right next to each other. Yay for surprises!

And YAY! for family pictures and goofy behind the scenes merriment!

08 December 2008

All About My Hubby

I know this will be recognized by some as The Hubby Tag but I am using it to celebrate my hubby since today is ROB'S BIRTHDAY!

(Rob at about 3 or 4 years old. He says he was "superfly" here. Ha ha ha! He also said he always wanted an afro when he was this age. More ha ha ha's!)

What is his name?
James Robert Harris, Jr. But he goes by his middle name, Rob. And if his Granny Harris were still alive, he'd be known to her as "Rob Rob".

How long have you been together?
Almost 20 years.

How long did you date?
About a year and a half.

How old is he?
38 today! He was born in Brunswick, Georgia and was not breathing when he was born at 12:53am, weighing 8 lbs 15.5 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches. He was blue and had the cord wrapped around his neck twice. It took the doctors and nurses 5 minutes to resuscitate him. Sure glad they were able to!

(Rob in kindergarten, Oct 1976.)

Who eats more?
Him, definitely!

Who said I Love You first?
Rob did. I had an I-love-you-phobia.

Who is taller?
He is, but our legs are the same length. (34" inseam)

Who sings better?
Ha ha...I don't let him sing unless I want to hear an Axel Rose impersonation. (Sorry, hun.)

Who is smarter?
Being a stay at home mom, void of most adult interaction for so long, my brain has been pretty much reduced to mush, so Rob, for sure.

Who does the laundry?
Mostly Rob.

Who pays the bills?
He earns the dough...I divvy it out.

(One of Rob's many football pictures.)

Who mows the lawn?
Our teenagers, duh!

Who cooks dinner?
Always me. Rob doesn't cook. He can. He just doesn't enjoy it in the slightest bit.

Who drives?
This is funny because whenever he got home from deployments I didn't want him to drive because he'd been out of practice. Also, he drives like he's on patrol, always looking at everything BUT the road. But, usually he drives, unless I'm feeling carsick, then I do.

Who is more stubborn?

Who kissed who first?
He kissed me while we were waiting for a friend at First Interstate Bank in the back seat of a blue Nova and it was the first time I EVER got butterflies.

(Rob, May 1989.)

Who asked who out first?
Um, Rob actively pursued me. He told all my guy friends he'd beat them up if they talked to me. They all dropped off the face of the earth, then he asked me out.

Who proposed?
Rob did.

Who is more sensitive?
We are both sensitive but I'd say me.

Who has more friends?
Rob! He is very extroverted, whereas I'm an introvert.

Who has more siblings?
Me, sorta...he has more step-siblings though.

Who wears the pants?
He says I do, I say he does...

What is something most people don't know about your husband?
He used to swim competitively and went to Nationals. He lost to Matt Biondi by 10/100ths of a second. Yes, THE Matt Biondi who went on to win loads of gold medals.

Rob is amazing, wonderful, hilarious, handsome, kind, incredible, hardworking, strong, and still older than me, hee hee! Happy Birthday babe!

(Rob told Gabby to blow out his candle on the fruit pizza he wanted for his family party yesterday since he has a cold and didn't want to pass it around. She was saying "Daddy told me to do it!!! Daddy told me to do it!!!")

02 December 2008

The Allegory of The Junk Drawer

We all have them.

The junk drawer that catches all the clutter. Things we may or may not need to hang on to but do anyway. Maybe we keep tools or batteries in there. Nails, screws, washers, bolts, wall anchors, and picture hangers. Tape measures and hammers. Scissors, markers, glue and tape. Rubber bands and paper clips. A broken door handle. Light bulbs. Padlocks and old keys. Pencils, door stoppers, wire strippers, etc...

My junk drawer is full of things that I didn't even put in there. Sometimes other people just throw things into my junk drawer and I'm too lazy to move it, or I don't know where else to put it. Of course, I can't get rid of some of the things in it! I might need them one day.

I know I hang on to too much useless junk. There are some really great tools buried in my junk drawer but there's too much clutter in the way for me to effectively use them. Half of the time I don't even remember what's in there anyway.

Every once in awhile it become necessary to dump out our junk drawers and throw away all the trash so it can become useful again.

All too often in our lives, we are like a cluttered junk drawer. We have some really great tools that our Heavenly Father initially gave to us. We bury them with careless things others say. Broken scraps of imagined offenses. Rusty nails that poke and scrape us when we notice them or take them out to look at, never letting them go, even though they can serve no future purpose. We keep dead batteries and wonder why we are out of power. We're missing pieces and parts that could make us whole. We've forgotten which key opens what door to our hearts and don't let anyone in to try and repair us. Our glue is dried out and our scissors are dull. Hammers and measuring tapes have even carelessly fallen out and smashed other people's toes!

Some of us even have self-destruct buttons in our junk drawers. With so much debris floating around in there, they get pushed from time to time and we run around begging someone else to come over with their tools and disarm us.

What we really need is an overhaul!

Clean out your junk drawers. Dump it out. Sort through it. Let the broken stuff go. Offenses from the past are just taking up the very limited space in there. Make room for useful implements. Broken tools can be repaired with the help of the Master Carpenter, the Savior. The Atonement makes repentance possible. And forgiveness. Toss those objects that clutter your life. Throw away and forget about the trash that others have given you. Don't keep it in your drawer any more!

Once our junk drawers are cleaned out, it's easier to be useful to others as well! We do have lots of good tools in there. Go and find out where you can be of service to someone else who might have a cluttered junk drawer.

If your life is feeling chaotic and you can't figure out why, or you think it's someone else's fault that your life is the way it is...check your personal junk drawer.

Maybe all you need to do is pick up the loose screws that are rolling around. :)

© 2008 Michelle Harris

18 November 2008

Gabby Through The Years

17 November 2008

Gabby's Story

I keep telling Rob I should get a party along with Gabby on her birthday after what it took to get her here. I wouldn't really want that but I can joke about it. I at least earned that right after all my poor body went through.

I decided to post about Gabby's pregnancy and birth today, the day before her birthday. But first I have to go back a little bit to the time when there were just three cute little boys in the Harris household.

I wanted more children. Rob did not. Of course I wanted to wait awhile because the boys were born in 1991, 1992, and 1993! So once Ryan was three years old I started pestering Rob about trying for a girl. I didn't care if I had a boy or a girl I was ready to have another baby, but I just knew I would have a girl. Rob had FINALLY come around and decided he wanted a baby too so we tried for another. I got pregnant immediately and at 10 weeks had a missed miscarriage which involved a laproscopic surgery and seeing how I am allergic to ALL pain meds...that was NOT fun. I was devastated. I had been so sure this was what we were supposed to do. Then for 6 months I had "girly" complications and didn't know if I'd ever be able to get back to normal and conceive again.

But sure enough we got pregnant with Riley and I had a normal, wonderful pregnancy. She was born full term, healthy and beautiful. (Full term is a big sigh of relief for anyone but since I had Tyler almost 8 weeks prematurely due to a complete placental abruption, it's a HUGE sigh of relief for me.)

A little time went by, and Rob and I both wanted to have one more baby. He deployed a lot. Then I was on medication that I couldn't get pregnant while taking. Then Rob took the leap and got out of the Army. Well...no job you'd think pregnancy was not high on my "To Do" list but it happened anyway. Rob was in Basic Law Enforcement Training in North Carolina and we were living with his dad. They were awesome and supportive of the pregnancy. But then at 14 weeks my water broke and I about died (literally) having a miscarriage. Again I had to have surgery because I was hemorrhaging and almost needed a blood transfusion. This miscarriage was heartbreaking for me. I was already showing. After watching what I went through with the miscarriage, (nearly losing consciousness from fluid loss while having a miscarriage in a wheelchair in front of a bunch of strangers in an ER waiting room...) Rob wasn't sure he even wanted to try anymore. We both endured a two or three month depression over the loss of that baby.

But 6 months later, I found out I was pregnant with Gabby. I had a few problems early on but nothing out of the ordinary. When we moved back home to Las Vegas I was 5 months pregnant and starting to have a little bit of edema in my ankles, which I attributed to sitting in and driving a van across the country for four straight days.

At about the 7 1/2 month mark I had a mild stroke. I had also started gaining about a pound and a half a day. My kidneys were shutting down. My doctor admitted me to the hospital and I was on complete bed-rest. My blood pressure was ridiculously high. They did an amniocentesis to check on Gabby's lung development and she was very underdeveloped. A steroid shot did almost nothing to improve her lungs. Rob was in the process of getting hired on the Police Department, going through psychological testing and physicals during all of this. It's a wonder he got hired with all the stress he had to be under.

Gabby was due December 25th of 2002. That's why we picked the name Gabrielle Christine. Gabrielle because the angel Gabriel foretold Christ's birth and Christine because it's so similar to the name Christ. But we always knew we would call her "Gabby". By Monday the 18th of November, my doctor became concerned about my cough and ordered a chest x-ray. My lungs were full of fluid and my doctor was convinced my body was drowning itself. He wanted to do an immediate and urgent c-section. But Rob was in his last psychological evaluation interview. We called him and they let him reschedule and he rushed to the hospital to get there in time to join me as they were attempting the first of three spinal blocks. Turns out my doctor was right in insisting in an immediate c-section as my liver shut down too. My blood results indicated that I had also developed HELLP syndrome. Gabby was also breech.

I don't remember very much of her birth. It was so fast, it was all a blur. I do remember that Rob was cracking jokes, he even called me a marsupial! Turkey. Gabby was born at 10:51AM weighing 4 pounds 12 ounces and measuring 17 1/2 inches long. Of course, I couldn't hold her because I was so weak and she was in respiratory distress. I barely remember kissing her forehead as a nurse held her briefly to my face. Then they whisked her away since she wasn't breathing. I remember feeling like I was not in my body, slipping out, so to speak. I crashed on the operating table right after she was wheeled away. And they had sent Rob off to the NICU with Gabby so I felt so alone as the doctors and nurses were rushing around me trying to make sure I didn't die. I remember feeling like I was so ashamed of myself for ever wanting to quit or give up when life got hard because I just knew, all I had to do was give up and I would die right there. When faced with death, it turned out, I really wasn't ready to stop living, even though this life is really rough. I prayed harder than I can ever remember praying before in my life that I would live through it and respect my life more from then on.

Suddenly a scripture, that I never even remembered reading before, entered my thoughts. These exact words, found in D&C 84:88 came to my mind. "I will be on your right hand and on your left,...and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." Peace flooded my heart and I literally felt physically buoyed up. I knew I would live. I knew my daughter was being offered the same protection. I could imagine angels surrounding her, encouraging her and blessing her.

I don't remember anything else until I woke up briefly in the recovery room. The next two days I had to be on pitocin because I had been hemorrhaging again, and I was on magnesium sulfate so that I hopefully wouldn't have any seizures. My hypertension was still being closely followed. Being allergic to all pain medications, my face was extremely swollen and itchy from the morphine and I was severely nauseated for days. I was able to convince them to just give me ibuprofen and I would make it through the c-section pain just fine. My doctor told me later that he couldn't believe how tough I was as he didn't expect me to be able to handle it without pain pills. Hello...people did it for centuries before...I was just fine.

When Gabby was two days old I tried to go to the NICU to see her, in a wheelchair, but as soon as I got there I became dizzy and weak. I kissed her hand and cried all the way back to my room because I couldn't make my body heal any faster so I could take care of my baby.

I ended up being released a few days later, after begging my doctor to let me go home (I was doing controlled breathing to calm my heart rate before every blood pressure reading). And I told my doctor I didn't have any headaches or blurred vision, when I did. SO STUPID! I'm so lucky I didn't have a seizure later on at home! What was I thinking?!

Rob and I sat in the hospital parking lot the night I was released, reliving a moment we had to go through after Tyler was born. We were leaving another one of our children at a hospital, instead of taking her home with us to join our excited family. We both shed many tears that evening. For many nights I slept with one of her binki's near my face because they were vanilla flavored/scented and so that's what she smelled like.

It looked like she was going to come home in time for Thanksgiving, but that day she took a turn for the worse and stopped breathing on her own again. She did finally get to come home after 3 weeks as a birthday present to Rob.

It took another two months or so for my kidneys to get back to normal. My blood pressure finally normalized too. I have a little bit of permanent liver damage but it isn't too bad. I do get frustrated by the changes to my memory since the stroke. But that, too, is mild. I joked with Rob in the recovery room that he better not even kiss me until he had a *vasectomy. I was NOT going to go through another surgery, being pain med allergic, to get a tubal ligation.

Gabby had a few complications for a little while. She was diagnosed failure to thrive at three months and we really had to fight to get her to eat for awhile. But she pulled through and is now a spunky, loving, wonderful, soon to be 6-year-old. She is a joy and we are so blessed to have been able to have her finish our family.

She is cuddly and snuggly and innocent and sweet. I get at least 45 hugs a day! She loves to read stories and help mommy do the dishes. Some days she is so proud of her blue eyes and other days she wishes she had brown eyes like everyone else in the family. She calls Corey, Tyler and Ryan "The Brothers". She loves to draw and paint and color and she's quite the talented budding artist. (She doesn't even color on the walls anymore.) She is energetic and imaginative. She walks around the house singing all day. And if she doesn't know the words to a song she makes up her own. "So ko lee lee, lo lo feely" are words she swears are lyrics to a song she hears on the radio a lot. Since she is the baby in the family and had 4 years alone with mommy while everyone else was at school, she is very skilled at entertaining herself and playing with her imaginary friends. She had friends called "Pink Mouth" and "Blue Mouth". She said they lived in the palm trees in our backyard. And they loved to swim in our pool. Picture a little kid talking to big pink and blue lips. Rolling Stone lips always came to mind. Well, we thought they were named Pink Mouth and Blue Mouth until we went to the theater to see Ratatouille and she said something about that cute "mouth" and we realized she had been saying MOUSE incorrectly with her speech issues. Then we wondered, well, hoped really, that she hadn't seen any ACTUAL mice in the backyard! Lately though, she has outgrown her imaginary buddies. (Either that, or the cat that visits our backyard, uh, took care of them. Ew.) She's a crack-up! We love our fiery little redhead.
Of course, she is worth every bit of what it took to get her here!

*(REALLY funny story: I didn't know when I picked Gabby's doctor that he went to the same church I did, because we had just moved back to Las Vegas. So imagine my surprise, and embarrassment, when I saw him at church the Sunday after my first exam. Rob couldn't understand the big deal...UNTIL he ran into his doctor at church the Sunday after he had his vasectomy. Turns out he was in the ward that shared the building with us. I thought it was awesome and he developed some empathy for what I had experienced.)

08 November 2008

I Don't Think So!

At 8am Gabby was asking if she could go swimming...Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaase!!!!!! Uh, I said NO, seeing as it's 45° outside! What a goofy girl. She stood there pouting for so long I had to take a picture. She really doesn't understand how cruel it would be if I said YES, does she?

06 November 2008

My Standpoint

Mosiah 15:5 reads, "Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable..."

D&C 42:53 says, "Thou shalt stand in the place of thy stewardship."

D&C 45:32 reads, "But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved;..." a command that is repeated all throughout the scriptures, including in D&C 87:8, "...stand ye in holy places, and be not moved", the wording of which suggests that it is my choice to be moved or be not moved from standing in my place, in my stewardship, to defend purity and righteousness based on God's definitions, not mans.

"Ofttimes the wisdom of God appears as foolishness to men, but the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that, when God speaks and a man obeys, man will always be right." -Thomas S. Monson

The idea that people believe that God speaks not in these latter-days is disturbing to me. A commentor on another blog said, "Christianist hegemony will soon be cast into the dustbin of history".

I testify to you that that will never be.

God's kingdom rolls forth on this earth and will never stop. Daniel 2:44: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."

As a mother I echo the standpoint of our church, that a father and mother are needed in the home, to rise and stand in the protection of children, a traditional family nucleus, and a widespread morally strong society.

A link to this article in the LDS.org newsroom can be found by clicking here.

Church Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Votes

5 November 2008

Since Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot in June of this year, the citizens of California have considered the arguments for and against same-sex marriage. After extensive debate between those of different persuasions, voters have chosen to amend the California State Constitution to state that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Voters in Arizona and Florida took the same course and amended their constitutions to establish that marriage will continue to be between a man and a woman.

Such an emotionally charged issue concerning the most personal and cherished aspects of life — family, identity, intimacy and equality — stirs fervent and deep feelings.

Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.

We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage — a union between a man and a woman.

Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.

Some, however, have mistakenly asserted that churches should not ever be involved in politics when moral issues are involved. In fact, churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society. While the Church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.

Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments, the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position.

Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.

Even though the democratic process can be demanding and difficult, Latter-day Saints are profoundly grateful for and respect the ideals of a true democracy.

The Church expresses deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the many Latter-day Saints and others who supported the coalitions in efforts regarding these amendments.

Take the time to read the links in the above article, especially the last link to "the divine institution of marriage". It very much clarifies our church's, and my personal, standpoint on this issue. I have read many opinions of others who say that our church only pretends to be politically neutral but then in reality bullies our members to take a certain political standpoints or be disciplined. This is not so. But we are expected to stand firm for values and morals in a morally declining society.

04 November 2008

My Personal Rant

If this post offends...oh well, it's my blog. Period.

This was Corey's myspace default picture all day today. He was so bummed to have missed voting in this presidential election by 3 months.

So, we are disappointed in the election outcome here in the Harris household. Did you hear the slogan, "If you have a brain, vote McCain"? Apparently some people are so open-minded that their brains fell out. Corey said, "Change?!" The only change we'll notice is a lack of it in our pockets.

Is there anyone out there with MORALS anymore? I'm not going to go point by point on why I disagree with Obama. But I will say I think he stands for many things that oppose our Heavenly Father's great Plan of Salvation and I cannot in good conscience support his ideals.

Our good bishop said Sunday, "Be careful of the world's definition of TOLERANCE." I so agree. We are slipping marching more and more into a society that applauds, condones, celebrates and embraces all forms of degrading and immoral behaviors, choices, lifestyles, etc, based on the perception that we shouldn't judge or that we need to allow others to exercise their own agency. Matthew 7:1 says "...Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment." We are called upon to judge righteous judgments and preserve laws that protect morality, wholesomeness, honor, decency and virtue.

I listened to these verses this morning in an institute class and have had them running through my mind all day. If you think I am applying them too harshly, that's okay. But it's how I feel...

Alma 2:2-6
"2 Now this [man] had, by his cunning, drawn away much people after him; even so much that they began to be very powerful; and they began to endeavor to establish [him] to be a king over the people.
3 Now this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions of [him]; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people.
4 Therefore, if it were possible that [he] should gain the voice of the people, he, being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church; for it was his intent to destroy the church of God.
5 And it came to pass that the people assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against [him], in separate bodies, having much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another.
6 And thus they did assemble themselves together to cast in their voices concerning the matter; and they were laid before the judges."

Even though this election did not have the outcome I prayed for or voted for, (hey, I actually wanted Mitt Romney to win, and NOT just because he is Mormon!) I can still find comfort in the knowledge that God is in charge.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

The irony of the word "change" appearing twice in the song is not lost on me by the way...

*P.S. I swear if I hear "America" pronounced incorrectly on TV one more time I'm gonna scream. It's uh-mer-i-kuh, NOT uhmurka or uhmeirka. ONE last rant and I'll go to bed...I'm sick of the word "HISTORIC". Every presidential election is historic AND I'm tired of the race issue being brought up too. We are all the same race. The HUMAN race. It's only an issue because so many people are making it an issue. It doesn't need to be. Of course a black man is as capable of running the nation as a white man or a hispanic man or a woman even. We all know it, so WHY is it constantly brought up? Huh? Huh? Okay, I'm outta here.*

**P.S.S.- I loved Senator McCain's eloquence and graciousness in his concession speech. **

***P.P.P.S. If we are going to call it historic at least let's use a thesaurus and come up with some variations of the word, PLEASE. We could use "remarkable", "memorable", "notable", or "consequential" even.***

Loather of political rhetoric, slogans, keywords, backbiting, distortion, equivocations and redundancy.

31 October 2008

Dead End Cemetery

We live at the end of a cul-de-sac so when Rob found this Dead End Cemetery sign a couple of years ago he had to get it. We love to set up our yard like a cemetery and play with our ridiculously expensive fog machine. Too bad the rest of our street looked boring and not worth the walk down to our house, we really didn't have much traffic this year. Oh well...more candy for MEEEEEEEEE! Good thing we only buy candy we want left over at our house. :D

My Pretty Girls

Since October 31st is a state holiday here (Nevada Day), there is no school on Halloween so the kids have their class parties and school parades on the 30th. I got to help out with Gabby's party and see how her classroom works. She was so excited to wear her Snow Princess costume to school and march around the other classrooms, especially Riley's 4th grade class.

We went back later in the day to see the older kid's parade. Riley was so delighted that we came back to watch her and she excitedly told her friends that those big boys were her brothers. Corey was in his football jersey since he had a game last night and her friends thought he was dressed up as a football player. Riley proudly corrected them and told them that he IS a football player. She looks so beautiful in her Elizabeth Swann as Calypso costume. Although she wouldn't wear the headdress...maybe we can get her to wear it tonight.

23 October 2008

All I Can Say To This Ridiculous Advertisement Is...

43 pounds in 2 weeks? Ya, right. Did they chop off her legs to accomplish that?

Maybe they meant to say "2 week increments" but that sounded too long. Let's call that "CREATIVE EDITING".

I'm soooo sick of advertisements. (And political emails that are hogwash, misquoted, twisted or flat out lies! Are we Americans really that stupid? ...Don't answer that.)

18 October 2008


The newest Harris Family addition...Wayne. Actually, we haven't decided if we are renaming him or not. We kinda like the name Wayne. Originally we were going to get a female miniature pincher with rottweiler markings and name her Sasha after Riley's favorite dog, which was Rob's dad's dog. Then we saw Wayne on a shelter website this morning and all of us fell in love.

We got there and looked up and down through the rows, hoping he hadn't been adopted yet. We started to give up hope and in the LAST kennel, there he was! Riley was beside herself! I gasped and said "ROB! There he is!" He was surprised that I was so excited since I've never been a dog person before. We have beautiful Sasha to thank for that too. She was a sweet, brilliant dog.

While I filled out paperwork to adopt him, Rob sat with Wayne in his lap, bonding. On the way home from the shelter we stopped to get gas and when Rob got out of the car Wayne started whimpering and tracked him and you could tell he was thinking, "Where's my dad going?" It was so stinkin' adorable!

He did really well on the ride home, sitting in the kids laps and in his little bed, taking everything in.

According to the shelter he is a chihuahua beagle mix. He is a little bit of a bigger dog than Rob thought I would want but I think he's perfect. He is a small-medium size. His temperament is wonderful. He has been exploring the house and playing with the kids and laying in our laps to be loved on. He hasn't barked at all. He's really a sweetheart.

I don't know how, but Gabby fell asleep on the way out to the shelter...guess the build-up and excitement wore her out!

So what do you think? Should we keep the name "Wayne"? Riley likes "Tyko" while Corey likes "Sako". That one sounds too close to psycho to me. Rob thought Riley said "Typo", which would be fabulous if we were authors! Ryan and Tyler don't know. I'm still unsure as well.

(UPDATE: After going through a bunch of options from Max, Duncan, Harrison, and even Dylon, we have all finally decided that we like the name "CODY". °Ü° )

15 October 2008

All About Riley

Miss Riley Nicole is ten years old today. My memories of the night she was born are still as vivid as if she had been born yesterday. I was the only one awake in the house late the night of the 14th. Rob had been working a lot so even though twinges of pain had started I didn't wake him yet. They were mild and still really not contractions anyway. I cleaned up the house so Rob wouldn't have to worry about it, and, honestly, so I wouldn't have to come home from the hospital to a house turned upside down by boys who were 5, 6 and 7! I kept a journal to give to Riley someday when she is older and want to share a small entry from it.

I just have to tell you how excited we all are that you are coming to our family! Your big brothers are in heaven! They're always asking me so many questions about you...they all give you (my tummy) a cute little hug and kiss in the morning before they go to school. It's adorable!I guess now would be a good time to tell you about your name. 'Riley' means 'valiant'. Always stay true to who you are! Because first and foremost, you are a Daughter of God! He loves you. I know you love Him, too. Never forget who you are--this life can be so full of challenges (hee hee, you are kicking right now). You are so precious to us all!"

At 1:44 in the morning on October 15th 1998 our first daughter was born in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. 8 lbs 7 oz and 21 inches of pure beauty and perfection. Dark hair, red lips, beautiful hands and fingernails, soft skin and cute chubby cheeks.

What a joy she has been to us these last 10 years!

She says she is turning 20 today since she has birthdays in two time zones. It's 1:44am the 15th in Germany when it is 5:44pm here in Vegas on the 14th. We've always wished her Happy Birthday at her exact birth time and always let her open a present then, too. Just a fun little tradition that she really gets a kick out of since she is our only child who wasn't born in Las Vegas.

Happy Birthday Riley!

13 October 2008

Floral Surprise Thanks to Major League Baseball!

Thank you for my beautiful flowers Morgan! You're so sweet.

And just because I did this for her...I got the better end of the deal! :) Love it!

Flash Flood-iversary

On the 13th of October 2006, FRIDAY the 13th to be exact, we headed out to Lake Mead for a long planned family camping trip with Rob's aunt Cheryl and her husband Gene, from Denver, and Rob's uncle Chris and his girlfriend Rhonda. Rob's Grandma Toni was in town to celebrate her birthday (on the 14th) and Riley's (on the 15th). She wasn't up for camping but Rob's sister Erin, his brother John and Lisa and Kahlin, Grandma Toni, and Rob's great aunt Diane were going to come out to the camp site on Saturday the 14th for birthday cake and a BBQ.

We had planned this trip for so many months that on the way out when it was predicted to rain and had already begun drizzling, we decided we would go anyway and make the best of it. A little rain never hurt anybody!

We drove right under a double rainbow. We could even see both sides!

We got out to the spot where Rob's family had already been camping for a few days. It was in a large box canyon called Echo Wash. Heh heh...that should have been our first clue...we were camping in a WASH. Hellloooooo!

So...we got out there and started setting up our tent. By some mighty miracle (I call it that now cuz I just know some angel came and hid it) our rain cover for our barely used tent was missing. It was ALWAYS repacked with the tent but somehow it was just gone. Rob's aunt said we could all sleep in their 5th wheel since it was barely sprinkling on and off throughout dinner. If we had had our rain cover...Rob and the kids and I would have slept in the tent because it just wasn't raining that bad at all. At dinner Rob did mention to his uncle Chris, who picked the campsite, that there was a reason this wash was so wide. But, it was a box canyon and seemed safe enough.

Now, my mom lives right in front of a wash. Having lived there for awhile, I have come to recognize the sound of rushing water in a wash. So about 2:30am when I woke up to the wind slamming the 5th wheel around, I was pretty shocked/worried/terrified to hear what I thought was the sound of rushing water. I was hoping it was my paranoia setting in because no one else was awake. I laid there for a little bit, praying of course, before I woke up Rob and asked him to go look and see if it was just the wind so I could calm down and go back to sleep. (I didn't know where the flashlight was or I would have checked myself.)

It was NOT, in fact, the wind. It wasn't even raining. But we were in for a long night riding out a mighty desert FLASH FLOOD!!!

Rob and his uncle Gene had to go out in it to get the four-wheelers to higher ground. Rob said a couple of times he had to grab ahold of Gene or he would have been swept right away. All we could do for the next few hours was pray and watch as the water levels got higher and higher. It was already too late to try and leave. We were forced to ride it out. We discussed who would account for which child if we had to abandon the vehicles and grab the kids and try to climb up out of the canyon.

Rob and I had just bought his truck in May and were facing the fear that it was going to roll or worse, be swept away. Another blessing---it started to sink. I call it a blessing because it didn't go anywhere. The right side eventually stopped sinking and we breathed a sigh of relief and somehow got a few more hours of sleep before we'd have to get up and try to dig out. Our tent was set up right at the rear of the truck. Do you see it in any of these pictures?

The next morning we surveyed the damage. Rob's uncle Chris's truck was in the front of the line-up so he took the brunt of the water as it broke the flow of water coming at the rest of the vehicles.

I wish I would learn to not talk on video. Does my voice really sound like that in person?! Gah! What an über-dork.

Chris's engine was a mess. I still can't believe that thing started.

Now, we had family joining us on Saturday for a birthday party so Cheryl and I went out on one of the four-wheelers 2 or 3 miles to the road to 1) see if we could get cell phone service, 2) maybe call a tow company to help get us out, 3) tell family to turn back because the wash was so wet we didn't want to have to dig anyone else out.

When we got to the road we discovered we could NOT get cell service yet so we decided to wait there for a little bit in case family came because we didn't want them to get stuck. They were supposed to be there around 8 or 9am. All the while we were watching a second storm move in right OVER our camp! We were hoping the boys had been able to dig us out because it didn't look good.

Finally, after waiting for about 45 minutes, Cheryl and I decided that we'd better get back rather than chance being stuck out there with no shelter when that next storm hit. Not even a mile back we were getting pounded by hail and lightening was hitting so close we could feel the electricity and it scared us so bad we jumped off the ATV and ran for cover. We found a tiny overhang to hide under but we still got mud all down our backs as the freezing cold water ran off the mountain. We videoed it in case we died. Just kidding, lol.

After that cleared up we got back to camp and found them finishing digging out that last of the trucks. We were throwing muddy gear (the clean freak in me just had to look away) into the trucks and trying to get the ATV's loaded into the 5th wheel when we heard this rushing sound and we looked over towards the water source at the end of the box canyon.

All of a sudden this wall of water crests over the top of the canyon and comes crashing down over it, headed straight towards us.

I was standing in front of the door to the 5th wheel right by Riley and Gabby. Chris shouts, "Get the heck outta here!" I'm immediately panicked because they were still trying to load ATV's. I just knew if we stayed that this flash flood would be worse since the ground was already so saturated.

Rob tossed me the keys to his truck and told me to leave. In a matter of seconds I grabbed Gabby and Riley and ran towards the truck with Ryan hot on my heels. I threw it into 4 wheel drive and hit the gas pedal and never looked back.

Oh, I wanted to but I was terrified because I had never driven in 4WD before. At one point I started to slow down slightly and I could feel the truck sinking so I continued to gun it all the way out of the canyon. I know I looked like a mad woman flying outta there. Hey, I was worried about my babies, and besides, I never saw any posted speed limit signs, ha ha.

When I got to the road I was so far ahead of anyone, all I could do was watch the wash and pray that they were all okay. It was a full 5 minutes before I could even hear ATV engines headed our way. There was already water washing past the turnoff to the main road.

Everyone made it out just in time. And wouldn't you know, just then is when the rest of the family showed up and said how they'd saved us all.

I don't remember ever praying so hard and so much in my life but I will always remember how grateful I was that we were all safe and how blessed we were for all the small and not-so-small miracles that weekend.

Once we got back in town, mud clean-up began. The first car-wash we went to refused to let us wash the car there. I don't really blame the owner.

We had mud on the inside of the door for months. However we all made it safely home and celebrated birthday's and had a great adventure to tell all of our friends about.

MORAL: Don't camp in a wash in Vegas when rain is predicted on Friday the 13th!

ACTUAL MORAL: Stay on high ground! It's the only safe place in a storm. (Physically and spiritually.)

---Chris, I'm still waiting for my t-shirt!!!

06 October 2008

Grandpa Hammer

Early this August my maternal grandfather, Bill Hammer, fell and broke his hip. My Mom and my Uncle Carl went up to Paradise, CA to put his house in order and bring him down to Las Vegas to stay with my mom. My Uncle Craig was able to fly in to see him and help get his affairs in order too. This picture (above) of them was taken on 3 Sept 2008 just before Craig (top right) went to the airport to fly back home to Indiana. My other Uncle, Steve came to visit this past Saturday. Grandpa was doing poorly and we knew his time left on earth was short.

I believe this picture below was taken sometime around December 2004. I'm really not sure of the year, could have been 2005. The Hammer kids are standing in birth order from left to right, Steve, Craig, Sherrie and Carl. My Grandma (Ruth Eloise Snyder Foster) and Grandpa are seated in front of them.

Grandpa has been in Vegas since Labor Day and it was nice to have a little bit of time for my children to be around him as we haven't lived close to him and rarely saw him.

Corey and Grandpa Bill jr (we ALWAYS called him that) share a love of football. Corey loves the Redskins while Grandpa liked the Minnesota Vikings.

Corey inherited his long fingers and large hands from the Hammer side of the family. You can't see it from this sweet picture here, but my Grandfather's hands were larger than Corey's. If you've seen my 6' 3" son's hands, you'll realize that's saying something! Ever since Corey was a small child he has always been fascinated with where he got what trait from...whose side of the family, etc. I hope he remembers his great grandfather when he looks at his strong, able hands.

My grandfather had a real soft spot for Rob. When I went over to see him at my Mom's he said, "Who are you?" I said, "Grandpa, it's me, Dana Michelle." (That's what my grandparents call me.) Grandpa said, "Oh, I know you...you're married to ROB! I like Rob."

My sweet hubby didn't want Grandpa to be stuck in bed all the time so he brought Grandpa over to our house for my birthday party in September. Grandpa couldn't walk anymore so Rob drove over to my mom's, got grandpa into the car and then in and out of our house. They sat together and watched football. It was so sweet to hear my grandpa say over and over for days what a wonderful time he had and how grateful he was that we invited him over. It was such a little thing to us but we are grateful to have had an opportunity to serve him in some small way.

The first time we took Gabby and Riley over to see their great-grandpa, grandpa asked my mom if Gabby was a mean little girl or a sweet little girl. I don't know who he'd been hanging around with but he was a little bit afraid of her at first. Gabby went up to him and told him that she was a sweet little girl and that she loved him. Oh, how sweet. She made my heart smile that day. She was sad to hear the news that her Grandpa Hammer had passed away.

I have fond memories of visiting my Grandma Faye and Grandpa Bill jr, and my great-grandparents in Paradise, California as a child. One in particular: when my brother Shawn and I were young we would dig holes in the yard outside to catch squirrels. Grandpa would always ask what we were doing. We would tell him and instead of telling us we couldn't catch a squirrel with a little hole because they could climb right out, he'd tell us we need to camouflage the hole with leaves and dig a few more and if we caught any we could have squirrel soup for supper, which of course we didn't want, but he always made us laugh.

My grandfather passed away last night, 5 Oct 2008, at about 10:35pm. He was 87 years old, born on 2 July 1921. As sad as death is, we are glad he can be reunited with his sweetheart, my Grandma Faye who died in Aug 2002. My mom was holding his hand and telling him how much she loved him as he drew his final breath.

William Fred Hammer
2 July 1921 - 5 Oct 2008

04 October 2008

Homecoming 2008

Corey was asked to Las Vegas High School's homecoming by a friend from middle school, Kelsie. We rented the tux last week, but SOMEHOW forgot we needed a corsage. (Hey, in my defense I am not a guy and never had to do that before so I blame Rob and/or Corey, hee hee.)

Rob went this afternoon to pick up the tuxedo after he dropped Corey off at football practice. YES, on a Saturday AND Corey rolled his ankle so he's at the dance with a limp. On the way home from the tuxedo shop, Rob called to ask me a question and at the same time we both went "OH NO! We forgot to order a corsage!"

It was almost noon. I have made exactly ONE corsage before so I was kinda freaking out because that one took me forever to figure out how I wanted to put it together.

Rob came home, we ran to two stores and grabbed flowers, ribbon and a beaded wristlet and ran home so I could make some beaded flowers and throw the corsage together...IN 1 1/2 HOURS!!!!

I think it's lovely.

And so was Corey's date!