Thursday, May 22, 2008

my baby graduates!

This is Carla, Maryssa, Summer, Logan, Max, and Paige. They are the top students in her class and have all turned into great friends this year. It's nice to hear her talk about her friends and getting to know them individually has been so much fun. They are a great group of kids!

This is Mrs. Christopher who teaches kindergarten at Whittier. She was the perfect choice for Paige. Deciding which school to go to and then trusting other moms about what teacher to have was so stressful at the beginning of the school year, but Mrs. Christopher was a the best choice. She is well organized, maintains order and schedule in her classroom, and keeps everything together (even when she had almost 30 kids this year) - She has an amazing amount of patience and Paige really loved her. Paige reads and writes so well and I'm grateful to Mrs. Christopher's teaching methods & homework sheets that started Paige down the road to where she loves books & reading.

These are Mrs. Christopher's aides, Mrs. Reynolds & Miss Kay. Paige loves both of them. Mrs. Reynolds is always available with a kind word or a hug. She is always gentle and sweet with others & especially the kids, and Miss Kay who only joined the class a month or so ago is the homework lady who we don't want to mess with. Paige has been really consistent with homework this year and I have seen a lot of improvements. I have gotten to know both of these ladies over the year while volunteering in her class. I suggest other parents to make time for it and get involved , if your not already! It's the best! I feel I have a good understanding of what happens inside the classroom and know the other kids she talks about. Where has the time gone? My baby is growing up so fast!

Monday, May 19, 2008

silly "Silly Grandpa"

Just today my "Silly Grandpa" passed away peacefully & joined his wonderful wife after a 4 year separation. This is a picture of my handsome Dadders (Terry) & Silly Grandpa in the days before I knew either of them. Ray McKenna was my grandma's 4th husband, but he is the only one I've ever known as grandpa and is the one sealed to our family.

This is the "Silly Grandpa" that I remember, always surrounded by grand kids. This was such a special Christmas that I will never forget, to be with my favorite cousins & grandparents. The McKenna's became so special to me at an early age. I remember writing my grandparents a "thank you" note and having them respond with the sweetest letter. Grandma officially became my pen pal from that time on until after my mission. I have saved & treasure every letter. Pictured: (back) Maren, Jared, Allison, Jennifer, Kelly, (front) Tricia, Deanna, Sunny & Joey. Sean & Leslie pictured on Silly Santa's lap.

Silly Grandpa always had time for us and that is why he got the name "silly" - we started calling him that early on and he would always chase us or tickle us to tease us back. One of the greatest gifts "Silly Grandpa" & Grandma McKenna gave to my family is the love of pinochle. It's a card game that we have carried on and play any chance we can get 4 of us together. It has become such an integral part of our lives that anyone wanting to become a permanent member of The Byrnes family has had to learn this game to be able to "hold their own" - we often joke that "... would not be allowed if we were playing with Grandma & Grandpa." Often my Dad will reflect back to the "double family" Grandma & Molly got back in 1989 (or whenever it was) or the thousand aces he & Grandpa got in '84. (pictured: Josh, Silly Grandpa & Kelly)

I included this photograph, because Silly Grandpa was an avid photographer and took so many wonderful pictures of his grand kids. He was quite skilled and took pictures for the love of it & mostly of his favorite subjects - his grand kids who always had ready smiles for him. (pictured: Joey, Jake, Kelly & Josh - one of the rare family pictures with Joey in it!)

Silly Grandpa passed on his love of photography to many of his grand kids including Sunny. She shot so many of these fun & crazy pictures last year at the Medicine Hot Springs McKenna Reunion of 2007. How fitting that the last reunion Silly Grandpa got to attend was at one of his & Grandma's favorite places to be in Montana. Grandpa also loved music. I can still hear him singing "Mona Lisa" - so many years have passed and I love that music because of him.

Paige McKenna Buchanan was named after my Grandpa & Grandma McKenna because of the strong bond I always felt for them. She & James have taken to calling my dad their "Silly Grandpa" - I am so happy that the tradition continues on. This picture was taken at the Arizona Heart Hospital when I was fortunate to be close enough to my grandma & grandpa to help out during a stressful time, as my grandma's health began to decline. Many long trips back and forth from Phoenix to Lake Havasu and back to Phoenix gave me some special moments hearing about grandpa's years growing up, adult life, and courting grandma. I think that's when I really began to know this great man.
This is where my grandparents spent the last few years of their lives together in beautiful Lake Havasu, Arizona. Isn't it obvious why I love Arizona - this desert that I live in is breath taking and we are blessed to see masterpieces in the setting sky every night. This specific picture is another one of Silly Grandpa's loves that he passed on. My dad used to come to Arizona every February to golf with his dad. The love of golf has been passed on to many of his grandchildren and precious hours can be remembered hitting "the links" with Silly Grandpa.

I was unable to be at my grandma's funeral in Spokane, Washington. She passed just a couple days after I had James. I mourned her loss for a long time and when this picture was taken I knew it wouldn't be long until my sweet grandparents would be reunited. At last that day has come. It is a bittersweet day. We have lost an amazing man - but as my dad would say, "we gained another guardian angel, which we probably need more" - I love you Silly Grandpa and will miss you.
(This poem was written by my darling niece, Madison McCurdy age 11)
I know what it's like to loose someone.
I know what it's like to be afraid.
I know what it's like to have tears running down your face.
I know how hard it is to except the truth.
Well, do you want to know what I do?
I take the names of the ones I love, and after they left, I planted them in the perfect spot.
And I promised always to sing their song so that they can live on through me.
Because even though I can't have them, this is their spot.
And someday, my name will be among them.
And it will be proud.
And I want you to know that if you go first, your name will join theirs' in the perfect spot, and it will never leave. Because, I will not allow you to leave me
- m.m.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

the best reasons for living in Arizona!

It's summertime... It's in the 90's and the bathing suits have come out in full force! We don't have to look for an excuse to get in the water. Arizona actually means: "get thee to the water"

The other cool thing about "the valley of the sun" is that there are splash parks all over & the public pools are chock full of water features that look like Willy Wonka must have created them.

We went today to our favorite The Tempe Splash Park. It is actually a few weeks late in opening. The have remodeled & taken out the sand area from last year. I'm not that sad. The sand is like 300' degrees in the summer time. This is hands down the best way to cool off.

Paige had a "play date" with our good friend "Libia" (Olivia) after school and played fast & furious for about an hour before we were ready to head home. It's only about 5 minutes from our house which adds to the good times. We headed home to enjoy a couple popsicles.

One other cool thing I got to do today was be a part of a research focus group for popsicle products. The best thing was - taste testing! yum, yum, yum! What we did most was to discuss this new "slow melt" popsicle. They use gelatin to slow the melting process, most people would say "duh. It's a popsicle, they are engineered to melt". But when you live in AZ and you grocery shop in the summer, you can't leave your car running - and your lucky if you get home with out little baggies of melted goo.
Anyway, We got to try them and mine was gone before you could say "brainfreeze" - but the group leader left one sitting out for like 20 minutes. It made me so nervous, but when he did open it - it hadn't started melting. I was impressed. Anyway, for what it's worth... I actually got paid to be overly opinionated today! My dreams are coming true at last!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Here's a tribute to the greatest Mother's that effect who I am:

“She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness. ‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.
“ ‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.
“ ‘No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’ ”
-Victor Hugo

I love my mom and she has sacrificed more then I can possibly comprehend. She raised 11 (dad included) wonderful children that have grown into amazing adults who love and respect each other. I always look forward to going "home" because of the incredible people who also call it home. She learned to sew at a young age & made a large portion of my clothing as a kid. I get my passion for crafts, painting, home decor, and sewing from this creative imaginative woman. She taught me how to clean, work hard, take pride in my work, and always to do the best I can. I love you mom - you are everything that is "industrious" and "praiseworthy".

This is another mom that raised me as a child, although she is only 4 years older then me. Her name is Allison & she was the oldest of the 10 of us. She had a lot of weight placed on her shoulders at a young age. She is the closest thing to Mary Poppins that I know. We sometimes refer to her as St. Allison because she is an angel and has blessed all of our lives. I always looked to Allison as an example of endurance, spirituality, patience, and sought her advice. She got me through my tumultuous teenage years - I love you Allison Dawn Byrnes McCurdy.


I feel that this special lady has raised me as an adult. This is my mother-in-law Annette. She is everything that one could wish for in a surrogate mother. Annette is kind, compassionate, and always doing for others. She is the glue that holds her family together, and there is nothing more important to her then her family (especially her grandbabies)... She has taught me more about myself at a time in my life where I thought I was done growing up. She is, who she is and has helped me to embrace my quirky nature. I love you Sunbrat!

This is my Tweedle Dee (twin), despite the fact that we are 12 months & 2 weeks apart. I think I annoyed Kelly when we were kids, but I thought she was perfection itself. She understands me and my difficult/bossy nature. She is passionate about life. She gets involved and cares about her family, community, education; and is always seeking for change to improve and make things better. Kelly is thrifty and has taught me so much about using money wisely & living within your means. She is a genuinely pleasant person to be around. She is happy in whatever circumstances she is placed in & loves her life & children. She has taught me how to look for good in everything. I love You Kelly Carter.

These are two of my great friends that are also wonderful mothers. They both remind me of other amazing women in my life. Christie is a lot like Kelly. Always positive and a pleasure to be around & Abbey is just like my mom, such a hard worker & always doing things for others. They are both exemplary examples of great mothers. I wish I had time to list all the great mothers, sisters, sister in-laws, cousins, aunts, secret stitchers, & friends that have influenced my life. There are so many of you that I laugh with and learn from. I LOVE YOU ALL!

"Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who understood that she and Adam had to fall in order that “men [and women] might be” and that there would be joy. Yours is the grand tradition of Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel, without whom there could not have been those magnificent patriarchal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which bless us all. Yours is the grand tradition of Lois and Eunice and the mothers of the 2,000 stripling warriors. Yours is the grand tradition of Mary, chosen and foreordained from before this world was, to conceive, carry, and bear the Son of God Himself. We thank all of you, including our own mothers, and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the mortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high." -Jeffrey R. Holland

My last tribute to "mothers" goes out to my oldest brother Jared. He is a single dad raising 4 kids on his own. He not only works 2 jobs to feed & clothe them. But then he gets to come home cook, clean, do laundry and be a "mother" and father to his kids. Jared is an amazing dad (and mom) he really loves his kids and is always there for them and the rest of us. Jared has taught me a lot about being a parent.

Lastly: I wouldn't be a mom if it weren't for Pip & Pop (aka Paige & James)

I love Paige's independent nature, love for learning, her natural tendency for goodness, kindness, and righteousness. She makes me want to try harder and be a better mother for her. She is great at wanting to spend time with me and embraces my love for crafts.
James is bold and honest. He is gentle, rough and kind. He is extremes bottled up in one little boy. He loves babies and never lets a moment go by without telling me how much he loves me. James is my little pal and always up for spending time with me, even if it's just cuddling on the couch watching PBS kids.

I couldn't do any of this with out the LOVE and support of my handsome trophy husband, Jason. He is all I could ever ask for. He treats me with kindness and respect. He makes life fun and is always surprising me (like a date last night, breakfast in bed this morning, a new bike with kid carrier, and steaks on the grill for lunch today - I didn't do a damn thing all day). He is my Best friend and the only one I want to spend the eternities with. I am so lucky to have him in my life. He truly makes it a wonderful life.

Friday, May 9, 2008

another one bites the dust

So this actually took place on May 2nd and keep in mind that this was after the replacement fish "Sunny" died... But on this morning James came running into the computer room where I was effectively neglecting him and told me "Mom, Snow White's dead" and then made his dead fish face. (he kills me)I went & looked & she really was dead. Why do we have such crappy luck with pets? I called Jason and he said that he would stop on the way home from work & buy another one. We are not going through another Paige mourning ___________(insert dead pet here). It's too much for one little 5 year old to deal with, let alone feeling like a crappy parent knowing that 2 deaths were your fault. (3 dead pets within a couple weeks - let's not.) So, I scooped it out of the cage with a salad tong and put it in a Disney princess bag which I felt was kind of fitting considering her name and put her in the big black barrel. Then I prayed that if "Sunny" - the other rat was going to kick the bucket as well. please let it happen before Jason gets home with the replacement rat, so he could get the 2 for 1 dead pet deal. Jason called & I gave him the addresses of 5 Petco's from Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and Gilbert. He stopped at everyone on the way home. He couldn't find one that looked just like her. When he got home he "dug up" the remains from the trash barrel to look at her markings? I was like "are you crazy she's a white & tan rat" - anyway, all this time I am doing my best to stall. We played at the playground after school. When we got home I told her I lost the key to her door & locked it so the preschoolers wouldn't go in and bug her rats. I was petrified that James would say "No. Your rats dead Paige" - So I told him that it was sick & Daddy would take it to the hospital for a shot to make it better. Grandma saved the day & picked up Paige for a few hours. Jason finally located it's twin & everything was put back together before Paige knew any better. I think back over all the crazy events that happened and ask myself what I have learned from this experience? how to be deceitful? or a good liar to my kids?... was it worth lying to our child? Of course. And I would do it again in a heart beat! But next time you are needing a pet sitter and thinking of who could watch your beloved "Fifi" you might want to think twice before taking your pet to visit the cursed house of dead animals (aka the Buchanan's)...

this explains a lot about me (and James)

The breakfast of champions... Maybe this was the cause of James being a 10lbs. 2 oz. baby. But somedays you just need it. My friend Christie made me the sugar cookies to celebrate Teacher Appreciation week. I felt pretty appreciated. She said I didn't have to share - so I didn't. Even when Paige was crying and carrying on for a cookie. I held out. My kids eat crap all the time. Just Wednesday I was out doing yard work after dropping Paige off at school, when I came in the house James was neked on the couch eating Bubblegum icecream from the carton watching TV. I understand icecream & TV... but really were clothes just too much to ask of one little boy?