Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boo to You

What happened to my cute little scarecrows, clowns and kitty cats? Yikes.

The kids are sugared up, the pumpkins are carved up and my house is seriously messed up.

No time to write tonight. But here is one of my all-time favorite Halloween posts, for old time's sake.

Happy Halloween to everyone. Here's hoping your kids share their Snickers and that the pumpkin guts come out of your new carpet.

Love, The Gab-lin

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Good, Not Bad, Just Different: Old vs. New

It's been four months since our little minivan rolled out of a Philadelphia suburb and followed the sun to the Grand Canyon State. Hard to believe, we've already had a quarter of a year to get used to life in the wild, wild West. It's a bigger adjustment than I expected.

Although both Brad and I grew up west of the Mississippi, it is amazing how a dozen adult years along the Atlantic Seaboard turned us into a pair of East Coast snobs.

Now that we have returned to our western roots, we've experienced just a wee bit of culture shock. Some changes have been wonderful (My car actually fits in the garage!) and some not so much (Really? This is the best bagel place in town?).

But, like my dad always taught us kids when traveling to new places, "Remember differences aren't good. They aren't bad. They're just different."

I'm trying to teach my kids the same lesson...and remind myself, too.

Here's one of the biggest differences between living in the Northeast and living in the Southwest... Old versus New.

Every fifth grader knows that Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies. So we got used to old. Historical landmarks and places steeped in tradition. A little crumbly around the edges, sometimes. But charmingly so.

Arizona, on the other hand, was the last continental state admitted to the Union. There's not a lot of old stuff here. Plus, it doesn't rain much, so things don't get damp or dingy. A little dusty, maybe, but no moldy oldies. Our kids have all noticed that the cars here all look new and shiny. Everything here seems new and shiny.

I like new and I like shiny, within reason. In places like the gym or the post office or the grocery store, newness is a very good thing. I love the fact that our new dentist's office and hair salons are space-age and gleaming.

But my heart absolutely aches for beautiful old churches, historical homes, and century-old cemeteries. Driving around a whole bunch of pre-planned neighborhoods and strip malls all day can feel pretty soulless sometimes.
Back in PA, most everyone we knew lived in older homes. All our friends were remodeling or updating or ripping out old wallpaper. A couple years ago, every home in our neighborhood turned 30 and every family in the development got a new roof for Christmas or Hannukkah.

In our new stomping grounds, most houses are less than 5 years old. Everything smells like new paint. Travertine and stainless and hand-scraped wood surfaces shimmer. Nothing is stained or cracked or broken in.

It's fun to walk through all the bright new spaces, but sometimes I have a really, really, really hard time not breaking the Tenth Commandment. Today I took the kids to a birthday party and, while they ricocheted through the inflatable slides and bouncehouses, I wandered the Tommy Bahama-themed backyard and patio turning every shade of green.

That's the main problem, I think with new. It is addictive. A new house calls for new furniture, new appliances, new accessories. New. New. New. And soon, the new stuff is old and you have to start all over again.

But old has its problems too. Progress happens for a reason. I mean, who wants to live without air conditioning or Netflix these days? Not me.

And so, this cross-country adventure has reminded me about the importance of honoring the old while still embracing the new. I'm looking for new friendships and new favorite lunch spots, trying not to miss dear old friends and places too much.

It's tough, sometimes. But it's not good. It's not bad. It's just different.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Off the Vine

I've been spending a lot of time with my pumpkins the last 2 1/2 weeks and have developed a love/hate relationship with Fall Break. Love the cooler weather. (It's 85 degrees, I need a sweater.) Love the relaxed mornings and unstructured afternoons. Hate the constant mess, noise and feeding. Really? Didn't we just clean up breakfast? Do you people HAVE to eat lunch? Every day?
Sam wins Most Photogenic Pumpkin this week. Actually he wins almost every week. The kid has loved getting his picture taken since before he was born. Seriously, back when he was only known as "Baby A," the sonogram techs were always impressed with his cooperation onscreen. "Baby B" was another story. Still is. But I love them both.

This little pumpkin got her braces on last week. Just in time for Halloween. More Tootsie Rolls for me, I guess. We were worried that Miss Em might be a little dramatic when it came to the orthodontist's chair, but she LOVES it. The sparkle, the shine, a bag full of tiny toothbrushes. It's like her own private spa. Only more expensive.

Halloween is the perfect season if you are an eleven year old boy. It's gross. It's scary. Your mom buys you a rubber mask and a knife with fake oozing blood. You roller blade around the neighborhood breaking them in. Your little sister screams in a most satisfying manner. Plus all your favorite candy is available in miniature size. Heaven.

Brad is gearing up to hike the entire Grand Canyon this weekend. I know.

Luke is ready to go back to school. Fall Break is fun, up to a point. But even the strictest First Grade Teacher is a breath of fresh air compared to three October-weary siblings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gab & The Giant Peach

I've just decided that the second week of Fall Break is not the time to start a new diet.

Or a new budget.

Fall Break can be a very happy family time as long as Mom keeps the snacks coming and the activities rolling.

Since we've been back in town, we have been wallowing in a peach-induced coma. I went a little crazy. I bought bushels and bushels of Utah peaches because they are, and I am not exaggerating here, nature's most perfect food.

We've made peach jam, peach muffins, peach ice cream, peach smoothies, peaches and cream, peach cobbler. If I cried right now, my tears would be sweet and sticky.

Here is my all-time favorite peach recipe. Try it. Eating peaches is good for the complexion. You are what you eat, right?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Heart Fall

The absolute best thing about starting school in July is getting two weeks off in October. So beautiful.

We started early and headed up to The Motherland last week.

I know a lot of folks don't like Utah, but they just don't know the right Utah people. Or the good places to eat. I, for one, love visiting the Beehive State. I know all the right people and am related to most of them.

The only photo I can get off my phone. More to come.

Highlights of our trip have included: meeting old friends, a 64th birthday bash, ATV rides, taking the big kids to General Conference, Twinkie Power squared, Alpine Sliding and some serious cousinlove.

We've spent the past few days in Park City and I've loved it. Our family had a getaway place here when I was growing up and a drive up the canyon always meant something fun was going to happen. Feeding the ducks and roasting marshmallows. Singing along with the old-fashioned player piano. Breakfast at a restaurant or skiing at Deer Valley, if we were really lucky.

Brad and I came here on our honeymoon. We've brought our kids almost every year. Now it's a place full of happy memories for them as well as for me. After all the summer upheaval, it is heavenly to spend a few days resting in the mountains. We're loving the autumn colors and crisp weather.

What am I reading? My mom's awesome book, Son of a Gun, of course! Did I tell you she is being published?! And it's really really good. Watch for it at a bookstore near you.

Tomorrow we head to Vegas.

I am seriously loving October.
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