Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful Turkey 2014

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving time without a new turkey at the Cazier's. This is turkey number 9. Next year it will be a decade of turkeys. Crazy how time flies.

This year was Pearl's year to chose the turkey design. I usually just type 'turkey cartoon' or 'turkey drawing' into google images and let the kids pick the one they like. Then, we try to get as close as possible while still making it our own.

Luckily I am pretty good at looking at something and drawing freehand on my own. (Granted, this is usually with simple images. No shading or detail please.) I put my computer on the table next to me and minutes later I had this guy sketched.

Pearl loved him. She showed everyone her turkey and talked about him all the time. Here she is doing a flapping turkey imitation.

He didn't have a lot of wing space, so we drew messages all over his body. I liked how he turned out.

He looks like he is ready for dinner. Let's hope 'turkey' is not on the menu. Actually, we already ate our turkey this year. Tyler gets a turkey every year from his work, and he texted me the day it arrived. I told him, "Good, we can put it in the freezer next to the one from last year." (Since we never have Thanksgiving at home, sometimes I forget about the turkey.)

Tyler texted me the next day. "Want turkey for dinner tonight? I left it on my desk overnight and it is nice and thawed."

Don't worry, it was well packaged, so he didn't have a puddle on his desk. But I did cook the turkey so it wouldn't go to waste.

But we wouldn't eat this guy. He looks too...strange.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you be thankful for all your blessings.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shaking Trees and Raking Leaves

Come to think about it, the pine tree has not been dropping needles as much this year. Last year we raked them up and made a huge nest around Halloween time. This year I'm sure Tyler has mowed up plenty of them, but there haven't been enough to really worry about them, let alone rake. (Maybe it just sheds every other year??)

Our other leafy trees have dropped their cargo in accordance with Fall regulations. Some of them had a little extra help. There is a little tree on the sport court side of the fence that has funny pods. I believe it is a locust tree, but June calls the pods 'banana shakers.' Pearl likes to stand and shake the heck out of the tree. Amazingly, the pods don't really come off, but Pearl is often covered in a flurry of yellow leaves. I took a picture back when Pearl was getting some good use out of the shaking.

The kids are very good about helping if we ask and many times this fall they have been motivated to get the rakes out on their own volition. I caught them helping one day and being adorable, of course. Daisy is working hard.

I know Pearl is a blurry blob here, but I loved how she would get a scoop of leaves and then throw them in the bigger pile.

I think this rake is bigger than Daisy.

Ivory got some cool gardenish gloves from trick-or-treating. She was using them while she raked. (Which is good. Some of those handles give you slivers.)

 Most of the leaves are gone which is good because snow is just around the corner. We woke up to a dusting on the ground this morning. Jack Frost is starting to leave not so subtle hints that he is setting up camp and staying for a while.

Goodbye Fall. *sigh*

Saturday, November 22, 2014

June's 12 Year Gallery

I just got done saying how I usually stay on top of the birthday photo shoots, and then June's somehow kept getting postponed. Mainly it is because the girl has so much stinkin' homework. Every time I thought we had a moment to go out, she would tell me she had some assignment that was due tomorrow. And then daylight savings happened and it got dark outside sooner and I couldn't seem to find a good day with enough light and no homework. (Seriously...the homework.)

So today dawned nice and gray. (Overcast skies are better light for pictures.) June was a little bummed because Saturdays are her day to wear pajamas all day. But I wasn't letting a little comfort stand in the way. I bullied her into getting dressed and we were out the door hoping to beat the inevitable rain.

June is beautiful. It is fun to go and take pictures of my kids and watch them grow and change. Enjoy my oldest who just keeps getting older...

I told June on the way out for pictures that she couldn't get older and decide that she had outgrown photo shoots. I didn't want any teenager sass in the upcoming years when I told her it was time to take pictures. She contently said if we still had a treat each time, she could probably be resigned to continue coming. Ha ha. No doubt.

We went to Kneader's. Love Kneader's. The rain started just as we were going inside. (And hasn't stopped since.) We ordered yummy goodness. I chose Peppermint Chocolate Cake, so June wouldn't share with me. (She is not a fan of anything mint.) I forgive her. She has other redeeming qualities.

p.s. I reread that and it sounds like I ordered Peppermint on purpose so that I didn't have to share. That is not the case. I was hoping to get a bite or two of June's Raspberry Pie, but she was not so generous since I had nothing delicious [in her opinion] to exchange.

p.p.s. I also looked back and have noticed that plenty of my birthday photo shoots have happened well after the birthday. Guess I am not as prompt as I like to think I am. But definitely better late than never.

p.p.p.s. Just for the record, June also had homework today, but I ignored it like any good mom would who wanted to steal her daughter away for quality bonding.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Changing Colors

Some days I don't feel like writing. Some days things seem harder. This is one of those days. I have happy, fun things to blog about, but I am not in that kind of mood.

So, I'll tell you about my roses.

First off, they aren't really MY roses. They came with the house. They seem to grow like crazy, and I keep trimming them back. Oddly, they seem to do better after a trim. (I'm sure there is some great analogy to life there.) I should mention that I have no experience with roses. I am just happy that I haven't managed to kill them yet. (There is still time.)

I think they bloom all summer. At least, I have seen them bloom in June, and I have seen them bloom in October. (That is a little beyond summer actually, but October was super nice this year.)

What I find most amazing is that they change color. I really thought roses came in one color. I mean, I know they come in all different colors, but if you had red roses, they were red roses. Or maybe you had white roses, and they would be white.

Mine, however start in this lovely orange yellow shade and then change to a magenta pink. If you don't believe me, I have a picture here. They bloomed at different times, but the bottom pink one started out just like the one on top originally.

Both colors are stunning. Both beautiful. Change doesn't have to be awful. It doesn't mean we have to like it. But I guess we can look for the good in it, and we can change too. And like the roses we can go from one shade of brilliant to another shade. We don't have to be dull.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

3 Reasons Why Violent Video Games are Just Not Enough

Hello Blogga fans! Maleen's been holding up pretty well during Blog Month, but it's only fitting that some time during the month you get to hear from me, Tyler—the only man in the house.

So it is with no small deliberation that I have selected my topic for the evening. Of course, I could explain how I agonized over all the details and multiple storylines. I could go on about how I sifted through the carefully curated details of my life to find the perfect moment to share with you. I could profoundly expound all the measures I went through to select tonight's adventure...but I won't.

The fact is that my subject was selected for me by the Great Blogger Herself, the one whose stories you normally come here to read. She pointed to me and said, “You're blogging tonight.” I thought I heard, “or else...” muttered under her breath, but it may have been the wind. 

So, at long last and great length, I present to you: 3 Reasons Why Violent Video Games are Just Not Enough. 

Naturally, it took me a while to come up with the headline. I didn't want some lame headline bearing my story to the world. No, I wanted something grandiose, epic—if I could have it! But that's the best I came up with, so the story will have to do the rest.

Long ago, while yet in Idaho, I learned how to shoot. Now I've never been a hunter, right up until several weeks ago, when I singlehandedly, with the help of several guys, rid the world of a horde of vicious, tick-ridden, flea-infested, varmint jack a matter of public service. My Dad was a hunter from his youth. I'm told he used to take a shotgun with him on his walk to school and shoot pheasants for dinner on the way home. 

That led to a sort of natural honing of the shooting skills of safety and accuracy. When boys of his own came along, my father reminded us that he had rarely fired his rifle without hitting his mark. He boasts a record on a cruise ship in the Carribbean that allowed a guess to shoot skeet “until he missed.” That turned out a poor investment on the part of the cruise line. 

When it was time to introduce his young men to shooting, my father took great care to ensure we were not savages with firearms. He hammered into our minds the deadly effects of firepower. He also helped us hone our skill for shooting. My brothers both show an affinity for pistol shooting, which I enjoy as well. However, I have always loved the challenge of “reaching out” for hundreds of yards through precision shooting. Over the years I progressed from “couldn't hit the broad side of a barn” to “plinker” to “skeet deadly” to...well, that's classified.

Under the watchful tutelage of my father, I learned not only how to accurately select a target and wait for the appropriate moment to “send it,” but I also learned of the great responsibility presented to those who possess and use firearms. We spoke often of rights and privileges, the constitution, and enjoyed many fine hours quite literally “shooting the breeze.” 

It is natural to desire to share skills and talents with others. I have an instinctive firearms proselytizing drive to share firearms with people—especially people who know nothing about them. 

We have a story, oft told at shooting ranges, of a friend of mine who had never shot a firearm in his life. We took him along to introduce him to the ways of guns. It was with great pride that we unveiled an S&W 500, the largest revolver manufactured to date. For those in the know, they're drooling right now. For those not in the know, it's a handgun that shoots .50 caliber rounds—that's ½ an inch around. It comes with plenty of kick, and an impressive impact down range. It was our custom at the time to introduce the newbs to shooting with the biggest gun at the range, thus ensuring all other firearms fired that day are easier to shoot. We instructed our friend about safety and about proper technique to fire the man-making pistol. No sooner had we explained the safety procedures and instructed him how to properly support the weapon, my friend assumed an unsafe support posture, slacked his elbows, and squeezed the trigger on nearly 2000 feet per second (fps) of man joy. 

At this point you should remember that we start with the heavy-kicking guns first, and this was the heaviest at the range. For the non-physics majors, it's a poor idea to relax the biggest joint between 2000 fps and your forehead.

The recoil from the S&W 500 instantly snapped his wrists up and back, transferring the majority of the energy down his forearms. The elbows absorb most of the recoil if they're locked, which the reader has already ascertained they were not. The elbows did the only thing they could do: snap backwards. The hammer of the 500 hit my friend right between the eyes, with a clean follow through. His glasses looked like they were salvageable, but they were sorely mangled. The resulting cut above his eye didn't produce a lot of blood, but it did produce a pair of blackened eyes. There were other effects as well, but in the interest of brevity (in which I am rarely interested), my friend, without a word, handed the firearm back, hiked down the hill from the range, and drove home. I doubt he should ever desire to handle another firearm ever in his life.

Subsequent expeditions to the range now start with the lightest recoil and work upwards. To this day, he is the only bleeding injury we have ever experienced at the range.

Needless to say, I select my firearms pupils much more carefully now. It's not enough to simply express the fact that you've never fired a firearm before. There's more to it than that. If you want to learn, not just shoot, I'll take you shooting. I'll share my firearms with you. I'll share my knowledge with you. And all with pride gleaming in my eyes.

So, it was with considerable consternation that I received the request from my sister in law to go shooting. She expressed that she had never before handled a firearm, let alone discharged one. She expressed a desire, and Maleen passed the desire on to me. Miranda (SIL) is an experienced gamer, so she's familiar with digital counterfeit of firearms. Many a violent video game has crossed her screen, and I was concerned that this may pose a barrier to handling real-world firearms, but ultimately I decided that she possessed the requisite desire to learn. 

With vivid memories of my friend's injury, I surveyed my current arsenal. I wanted something that would make a smooth, enjoyable introduction to firearms. A 9mm would be perfect. For the non indoctrinated, the 9mm is the standard-issue sidearm for the U.S. Military. It holds up to 16 rounds, fires a rapid, high-penetration, relatively light round, and is among the most stable, accurate pistols in service today. The typically next step up is a .40 caliber, followed by the ubiquitous .45, and then up to .50. 

Pistols would be a splendid introduction, but I also wanted to share the two other flavors of consumer firearms: shot and rifle. For the un-initiated: a pistol is a short-barreled handgun either semi-auto (uses a magazine or “clip”) or revolver (uses a cylinder); a shotgun has a much longer barrel than a pistol, typically has a butt-stock to stabilize the gun in your shoulder during discharge, and most-significantly, shoots a number of tiny BBs that spread out from the barrel; finally the rifle is a long-barreled firearm with a butt-stock, that shoots a single projectile through the barrel, which is “rifled” to ensure the bullet spins in the air—making it more accurate over much-longer range. 

I selected my recently purchased 20-gauge shotgun (my primary weapon in the epic battle against the jack rabbits), and my Mosin-Nagant 7.62x54R (basically a .308) rifle.

Miranda (SIL), June, and I headed west out to the BLM land on the west side of Utah Lake, and found ourselves a nice little shooting alley. 

We talked about safety, and ensured that everyone knew the commands. We talked about proper shooting position for pistols, for rifles, and for shotguns. We talked about how to hold a firearm, check it for safe, engaging and disengaging the safety, and about range commands. 

Everyone was safe, everyone shot all the guns, and everyone came home alive with no blood—it was a successful shooting outing!

I think that Miranda learned much about firearms, and I think she now has a healthy respect for what they do, how to treat them, and what it takes to be “good” with a gun.

To bring it full circle, then, the three reasons why violent video games are just not enough are these: 

  • 9mm
  • 20-gauge shotgun
  • 7.62x54R Mosin Nagant

If you don't get it, you'll just have to find me at the range to understand. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Sense a Trend

About a month ago I went into Daisy's classroom to drop off her piano bag. Her teacher was in the middle of a small group lesson, but she stopped and jumped over a desk saying that she needed to speak with me. She told me that Daisy couldn't see. Daisy's desk had been in the back of the classroom, but after mentioning that she couldn't see the board, the teacher had moved her to the front. It seemed to be helping some.

I wasn't terribly surprised by this news since we already have three kids who wear glasses. I filed away the information for future use.

Just a week ago, I was subbing in the library and I had forgotten to tell Daisy to meet me there after school, so I popped into her classroom. Her teacher was again in the middle of a lesson and she halted everything again to run over and talk to me. "Daisy can't see," she said with more emphasis this time., you wanted me to do something about that??

Apparently books held more than an arms length away were incomprehensible to her. I got the message, although it did seem to take longer than necessary to filter to the action center of my brain. But once it got there, I sprang into action.

That very day, I took her in for an eye exam. And although I am not surprised she needed glasses, I was a little surprised at how bad her eyes seem to be. Ivory is very nearsighted, and I'm pretty sure Daisy's eyes are comparable or maybe a tad more so. And she is the youngest to get glasses. Granted, by only a few months, but still the youngest.

Daisy is thrilled. In the Cazier household, it seems to no longer be a question of if you will get glasses, but when you will get glasses, and Daisy has joined the ranks of those with spectacles.

I let her get a special case for her glasses. Dare I hope that this will help my most forgetful child to remember where her second set of eyes are?

She is so adorable, it is hard to be sad that she needs glasses. And I tell myself that there is a surgery that can help the kids if they would like to chose that option in the future. Daisy's first problem so far seems to be that she doesn't have enough nose for the glasses to rest on. Not much bridge there.

Her second problem is that she is going to get mixed up with Ivory for sure. This evening, even I got confused. Daisy was talking to me, but when I looked out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was Ivory. Even before I rotated this picture, I thought it was Ivory.

There are definitely differences between these two, but sometimes I feel like they are just two peas in a pod.

The third problem is that we have gone to the same place to get all our glasses, and we are running out of unique styles for the kids to wear. So Daisy got the same pair as Robyn. Let's hope they don't get them confused.

I sure love all my girls. (Even the one without glasses.)

Even if Tyler and I seem to be passing down some genetic eye alterations, I still think those eyes turned out beautifully.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just a Little Off the Bottom

Ivory has been talking about getting her hair cut. So, I surprised her after school with a trip to our hair-cutter friend. She was very excited.

Ivory's hair is very fine and fragile. The front pieces don't seem to grow very long because they break at a certain length. So we decided to bring all her hair up to that length.

I think she looks super cute. It fits her personality.