27 July 2012


It's been a long week.

We've had commitments most nights this week, and my husband worked over 60 hours. There was also a flurry of doctor appointments and paperwork that was suddenly due for our two daughters, regarding college.

This morning I awoke at 5:45, and my husband had already left for work. We've hardly seen each other at all lately.

I went downstairs and found an envelope on the kitchen table with my name on it, in his handwriting. It was odd - it didn't look like a card, but more like a business envelope. I was a little worried. Was this regarding something I probably forgot to do or worse, forgot to pay? Was he mad at me? He doesn't get mad often, or ever, really. But one never knows.

So I opened the envelope and it WAS a card.

It was a very romantic card. And when I opened it, it said, "Happy DWM."

DWM stands for "day we met." We met 21 years ago today, and to date, my husband has never forgotten. Even years ago when he was deployed with the Navy to the Persian Gulf, and even two years ago when I was at the Grand Canyon with our children. He sent a card on the trip with our youngest daughter, and she made sure to give it to me on the 27th.

So you can imagine my SHOCK when I opened the card and then in horror, looked up at the calendar. I had TOTALLY forgotten. I've never been as good about remembering it as he has, but I've never just outright forgotten.

So I did what any self-respecting girl would do. I cried.

While no one is perfect and at times we have our differences, it's things like that that make this guy the best guy in the world. To me, anyway. :)

Copyright © 2012 - Paulla Estes

25 July 2012

First Elephant

When I turned 25-years-old, I was married, pregnant with my second child, and living in Monterey, California. On that very day, I went to try one of 99 keys to see if I would win a 1967 Ford Mustang (I had won a key a few weeks earlier).

I knew I had to win since the drawing was on my birthday AND because I was born in 1967. It was fate! It was destiny! It was written in the stars! When my turn came up, thankfully no other key holders had yet won. I got into the bright red car, turned the key, and nothing happened.

Other than that, it was a good day.

Today, my oldest child is turning 25. (Yes, I started young, you do the math). 25 on the 25th - magical!

He is in Flagstaff, Arizona, at a teacher training conference. He finished his Master's Degree this spring and landed a wonderful job at a private school in the Phoenix area. He's a smarty who will be teaching History and Latin to middle schoolers.

But it's important to paint the true picture of his nature. (Evil grin).

When this boy was three-years-old, he had a friend over and they watched a video of The Jungle Book. If you remember the part when the elephants march through the jungle, imagine two three-year-old boys lining up and marching around our living room. It was all fine and good and until the friend got in front of my son, to which my son exclaimed, "HEY! I want to be first elephant!" And then he knocked the kid out of the way.

No, it wasn't nice, but it was also hilarious. He has never been able to shake the title of "first elephant" among family members.

A couple of years later, when he was about five, a little boy in the neighborhood knocked on our door to see if my son could play. My son opened the door and said, "You know, I don't HAVE to play with you." Lo and behold, the kid stayed, anyway.

It gets worse. In kindergarten, he called a teacher fat, and in the lunchroom, he threw ketchup at the wall. He was a miniature terrorist. And honestly, I did not teach him to behave this way. (Though at the time I was sure everyone believed I sat home at night thinking up ways to encourage him to shock the entire town.)

I won't talk about the time he got in a fight with a very rude and nasty little boy across the street who happened to have two prosthetic legs from the knees down. At one point during the fight, one of the legs came off, and my son proceeded to pick it up and hit the kid with it. Yes, he is still proud to admit that he hit a kid with his own leg.

Oh wait, I just talked about it, didn't I?

Thankfully, he grew out of those naughty little boy years. Also thankfully, to date he has not hit anyone else with a prosthetic leg... that I know of. In fact, those behaviors were not the norm at all. He was a delightful little guy with a gift for gab. Now he's a delightful BIG guy with a gift for gab.

We still talk on the phone nearly every day and he's always got something to say or an opinion about something. Teaching is definitely the right profession for him, as he can share all his thoughts and opinions with the next generation. Wow, I just got scared after I wrote that.

I spoke with him a couple of hours ago during his lunch break at the teaching conference. He said one of the seminars today was on kids to try to derail teachers by asking leading questions, getting them off-topic, etc. He assured the entire group that he could handle that because HE was that kid, and that the last time he did that to a teacher was a few months ago - his last semester of grad school.

Yep. That's my boy.

Lastly, here is a recent photo of him doing grown up things at the Phoenix Comic-Con. Recognize the guy with him? Hint: 70's TV series about a big, green guy. Also noteworthy - my son is about 6 ft. tall, so this guy is HUGE.

Happy Birthday to my grown up, delightful son who has taught me way more than I taught him. You're a good egg. ;) Love, Mom

Copyright © 2012 - Paulla Estes

24 July 2012


This is a story about a squirrel we have been watching all summer. We have several bird feeders and a bowl of squirrel food in our back yard that we replenish regularly. There are five squirrels and three or four chipmunks that spend their days at our feeders, filling up and going back to hoard.

Across the street from us live three outdoor cats. They have made the neighborhood their own and there is one that travels regularly into our fenced back yard. Anywhere else in the yard, I say hello to the kitty and I am kind to her and call her by name. But inside the fence is off limits. Inside the fence, she gets yelled at and sprayed with the water hose.

I want our woodland creatures to be safe.

So this year, early in the spring, there appeared at our feeders a squirrel that was missing most of its tail.

At first, we said, "Aw, isn't it cute? What a little fighter! Maybe it got away from the neighbor's killer cats? We were rooting for this squirrel. And then one day, we had the chance to look at him a bit more closely.

Turns out the little guy is also missing part of his front left foot. Either that, or it's mangled; it's hard to tell from our vantage point at the window, or on the porch, about 20 feet away. We'd love to go inspect him up close, but for some odd reason, he won't allow it. :)

So we watch from the window (through the screen, thus the crappy photos) and we look for him each day, hoping he's still there. He always is.

Then one day we got an even better look at him. It turns out he's ALSO missing his BACK left foot. Yes really! The poor little guy is missing his tail and both feet on the left side, yet still he manages to hobble across the yard at a pretty good clip, and I've seen him scurry up a tree.

As I was taking these photos that day, he stood up and then leaned down to eat some sunflower seeds, at which point, he toppled over on his face. We all saw it and we didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He soon righted himself, shook himself off, and went on eating.

The other squirrels clearly accept him, which was a big concern of mine. Moreover, I've seen them sort of defer to him when he shows up at the bowl of food. While they often chase each other off or "guard" the food, they always show respect to the crippled squirrel.

Here is a photo of his left side where you can clearly see that he is missing his back foot. The front isn't as easy to see, but it's missing, too.

Squirrels don't live long in our area. Either they become lunch for a hungry eagle or fisher cat, or they are hit by cars. Some have even missed jumps and died from a too-far fall to the ground. And of course there are the neighborhood cats. Yet here is this crippled squirrel with a will to live, eating each day, running up trees, and doing squirrel things.

In reality, I know his days are numbered. They're all on borrowed time, so he's a walking (limping) miracle. I know there will come a day when we won't see him anymore. Until then, whenever I see him out there, I smile.

Copyright © 2012 - Paulla Estes

18 July 2012

Garden Shots

This summer my daughter and I have been working to make our yard and gardens a bit more... lovely. One of her jobs has been to decorate.

The photos below show some of the items she purchased, including the decorated stones and ceramic mushrooms.

A couple of days ago when I was out snapping photos, one of our many chipmunk friends was scurrying back and forth through the garden. The photo of the chipmunk next to the mushroom is real. He stopped there and looked right at me, as if to pose.

Copyright © 2012 - Paulla Estes

10 July 2012

Walk in the Woods

Copyright © 2012 - Paulla Estes

04 July 2012

Happy 4th

Today didn't turn out like we'd planned.

Last night found us coming home much later than expected, due to a combination of improprer planning and... improper planning. In spite of that, we had a full day planned for our 4th of July festivities.

It would begin at 6 a.m. After taking one daughter to work (yes, who works on the 4th? - not fair in my book) we would go kayaking for a few hours. Then after coming home to change, we would go to one of the many Independence Day parades in the area. When the parade wrapped up, we would pick up the aforementioned daughter from work, and come home to grill burgers and dogs.

But what is it they say about the best laid plans...?

At 5:30 a.m., the weather channel told us it was going to rain all day. ??? That wasn't in my plan. I took my daughter to work and told everyone else to go back to bed.

Not long after I returned, I realized how little sleep I'd had and how late and crazy the evening before had turned out. So I took my own advice and went back to sleep.

At 10:30 a.m., I awakened again with the knowledge that we had 25 minutes to get changed, get out of the house, drive to the parade AND find a parking spot. A twinge of panic flitted by, but kept on going. The parade just wasn't in the cards this year.

So we celebrated, American Style. We flipped on the T.V. and watched the N.C.I.S. marathon on USA network.

When I went back to pick up my daughter this afternoon, we bought fast food, agreeing that none of us wanted to bother with grilling. It was just one of those days when being lazy and useless felt good. (And by the way, I asked the gal at the fast food drive-thru window if she was getting paid more to work the holiday. She said no. C'mon, McDonald's, don't your employees deserve a break today?)

We work hard all week and we are thankful to live in a country where we have choices, freedom, and where most opinions are still accepted as fair (oh that all opinions would be considered valid, but alas, we don't live in a perfect world). I am also thankful that we can celebrate any way we want, even if it means doing absolutely nothing at all.

Here's to independence, and best wishes and blessings to all the folks who had to work today - especially those who didn't get paid extra. Definitely not fair in my book.

Copyright © 2012 - Paulla Estes