Update Post – Highlights of 2014

Posted on January 13th, 2015 by Jean

Forgive me, friends! It was been six months since my last post. At that time, we had returned from a visit to beautiful Lake Powell. Although I’ve been quiet here, I post regularly to Instagram. Here are some of our 2014 highlights:

New ChicksJuly 26th – We bought new chicks, bringing our total to 22 hens! A couple of roosters made it into the mix (they are the golden chicks pictured), but we removed them once we figured that out. (Roosters have spurs and say, “Cockadoodle doo!”) We are reaping the benefits now with over a dozen fresh eggs per day. When clients and friends visit, they always leave with a carton of eggs.

Knotts Berry FarmJuly 30th – We visited Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. The Pony Express was operating this time, and we were thrilled to ride this unique “stand up & straddle a horse” coaster! I think Natalie caught a bug in her mouth though. Another giraffe followed us home, this one bigger & heavier than the one we bought at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 2008. I tell ya, Tom LOVES giraffes.

ScoobySeptember 6th – We found a cute dog running ahead of our car in the Target parking lot. The kids said I had to rescue him, and who am I to argue? We posted his mug on facebook, and put up flyers, but he was unclaimed. A visit to the vet confirmed he had no chip, weighed 9 lbs, and hated shots so much he had to be muzzled! We named him Scooby after a contestant’s dog on America’s Got Talent.

Disneyland 2014September 28th – We paid a quick 1-day trip to Disneyland. Firsts this time were riding the Autopia cars, riding the Monorail, visiting Disney after dark,  and getting Natalie to go on the Peter Pan ride. Hoping by next trip, I can convince the girls and Tom to go into the Haunted Mansion! Disneyland was all decorated for Halloween with pumpkins everywhere. We tried to track down the elusive Jack Skellington “Zero Dog House” popcorn bucket to no avail. I did manage to find Tom a treat, Snow White’s poison apple. Bon Appétit!

Halloween 2014Halloween was fun. The girls dressed as a lil’ devil and a chess queen. We visited a private, gated community in our neighboring town as we live in a rural environment outside of city limits. The girls collected lots of treats and had so much fun ringing doorbells and exclaiming, “Trick or Treat!”

DiningOctober 7th – We dined with a client at a restaurant of their choice. The food was good, but our wait for food, even the appetizer, was 75 minutes. I made a point to Yelp! about our experience, mentioning the good and the bad. The restaurant owner’s husband then proceeded to contact me via email (against Yelp rules) leaving me with such an ill feeling. He said I “bashed” their business, and I should have discretely informed his wife of my feelings instead of putting it out there for public consumption. I had to block him since he wouldn’t stop sending me messages.

Shania TwainDecember 11th – Oh my gosh, we saw Shania Twain in Vegas! I’m not a huge fan, but surprisingly knew a lot of her songs. She is tiny and talented! She also walked through the audience taking selfies with people… I don’t even know how she remembered the lyrics while walking, smiling and posing. Her stage was incredible, enormous and vibrant. She entered the stage on a flying motorcycle and wearing a sequined body stocking. She danced and sang, and it was a fun night! Our friend & print-broker brought us. Before the show, we dined at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. Delicious food! I had the salmon, cooked perfectly, and a glass of white wine. No waiting for this decadent meal! We were greeted and served so well, we felt we were a priority. Bobby Flay is free to contact me via email about the review I left his restaurant on Yelp!

Christmas 2014Christmas was wonderful even though Santa’s secret stash was discovered in a closet under our staircase on Christmas Eve. The girls left the presents right where they found them, and Santa distributed them during the night. The gifts this year were heartfelt, toy accessories mainly to go with gaming systems and dolls the girls already own. For the first time, we exchanged gifts as a family. The girls bought me candles and a bathrobe. They bought Tom a giraffe statue and a horse head statue. We bought the girls comforters for their beds. We baked gingerbread cookies, and dined on steak, mashed potatoes and cheesy green beans.

Snow in our townOn New Year’s Eve, it snowed in our town marking the 1st time since 1977. Snow in the desert! Unbelievable. Magical! It wasn’t enough to build a snowman, but it was enough for hours of fun! The girls bundled up and played outside all day. Tom was delivering our magazines in the snow, a first. We all took so many photos, thinking the snow would stop and melt at any time.

Another highlight/lowlight of the year, although there is no photographic evidence, was being summoned to court by my neighbor. You may or may not remember the ongoing battle we’ve had with him. To sum it all up in a nutshell, the judge dismissed our neighbor’s request for a “restraining order” against me if I would agree to drop mine against him. So far, so good ::: knock on wood :::.

I wish you all a very Happy 2015! I hope not to stay away so long this time.

Page Arizona… or If Mars Had A Lake

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by Jean
Lake Powell

Lake Powell in Page, Arizona


Can you believe this beautiful blue? And the red sand? How about the white mountains in the background?

Last week, we were fortunate enough to visit Lake Powell in Page, Arizona near the Utah border.

Tom was hired to film two depositions, one in Kingman which is only 45 minutes from our home. The other in Page which was a six hour drive for us. Tom towed the boat behind his truck to the local deposition while the girls and I packed suitcases and coolers for the trip. We waited for Tom’s call that the job was done, and we headed to join him in Kingman. I was glad to leave my car there at the Marriott since it was pouring rain. We transferred ourselves, our luggage and such to Tom’s truck, and began the long drive to Page around 7pm. We arrived at the hotel at 1am. Surprisingly the girls stayed awake the whole time, enjoying what we could see of the scenery and towns along the way, and listening to Tom and I talk. We have a way of making conversations funny, each trying our best to make the other laugh.

Tom requested a wake-up call since my phone couldn’t decide which time zone it liked… Arizona’s or Utah’s. When the phone rang at 7am, Tom answered it then promptly fell back to sleep still clutching the phone. I should have taken a photo. It would have been priceless.

Marriott Pool Page AZ

Marriott Swimming Pool

The girls and I slept in a bit, then headed down to breakfast. It was an unusual arrangement, a cook-it-yourself buffet. Teenagers loitered around the waffle maker blocking access to buffet plates. We were finally able to grab plates and waited our turn to toast our bread. There were a few scrambled eggs in heating trays, and two frying pans pre-heating for your eggs of choice. We scooped up what we could find, sliced watermelons, biscuits, gravy, bacon, cereal and milk, then headed to our table. Tom came in and grabbed a few pieces of bacon from my plate, then left again as his recording job was about to begin.  The girls and I cleaned our plates… not literally… paid our bill, threw a tip on there for good measure, and went back to our room to change for the pool. Almost had the pool to ourselves. The water and air were both warm, and the girls swam for nearly an hour. Tom took a break to join us before returning to the conference room.

It wasn’t long before Tom texted that he was done. While he packed up his video equipment, we got ready for the lake. Just 2 miles from our hotel was Glen Canyon Dam. We crossed the Dam, then pulled into the Visitor’s Center to take a few photos.

Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam

We continued on to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the Wahweap Marina boat launch. Tom launched the boat and tied it to the dock while he parked the truck. He thinks he parked in Utah. That was quite the marina!

“Where do you want to go, guys?!”, asked Tom.

“Let’s go see the dam!”, we replied.

It was a short cruise to the dam, and we got as close as we could. We posed for pics. We cannon-balled into the water. We had fun!

“Now what do you want to do?”, asked Tom.

“Let’s visit an island!”, said Pearl.

We were able to drop anchor near our own private island which had a built in, nature-made hot tub. It was glorious!

Lake Powell Glen Canyon Dam

Swimming @ Lake Powell / Glen Canyon Dam


Private island with hot tub

Private Island with hot tub


“Now what do you want to do?”, asked Tom.

“Let’s see if we can get around that white mountain.”, we said.

But passage was not possible as the water was too low. We turned our boat around and headed off to find a beach. The goal, to make a red sand castle.

We anchored near a beautiful sandy beach, the one pictured at the start of this post. We quickly found out we should wear shoes on this beach as there are mean pickers everywhere! But there are also gorgeous rocks and wind-swept sand undisturbed by man, insect or animal.

thorns rocks sand

Thorns, Rocks, Sand


The girls and I explored the area, but the pickers soon forced us to return to the beach. Tom started the sand castle project, and Pearl added the finishing touches.

red sand castle

Red Sand Castle


The waves from a passing tour boat leveled our castle and nearly beached our boat, but we all managed to push it back into the water, climb in, and return to the marina. We drove to the hotel, changed for dinner, and scouted out a pizzaria we had seen earlier. The Canyon King Pizzaria to be exact. Dinner was delicious! We had spicy meatballs, hot wings, pepperoni pizza and lasagna with cold sodas and beer.

We all slept well that evening, then awoke early the next day to visit the Powell Museum before heading home. We saw Navajo artifacts and dinosaur casts.

Lake Powell Museum

Lake Powell Museum


It was fun, educational, and relaxing. Couldn’t have asked for more from a working vacation.

• Have you ever built a red sand castle?

• Do you stick your head (or other body parts) in museum dinosaur exhibits?

• What was your best impromptu summer vacation?

Thanks for reading!

Father’s Day and the Creepy Neighbor

Posted on June 26th, 2014 by Jean

On Father’s Day, we gifted Tom with chocolate cake, two new polo shirts (one bright yellow, one pale blue), Taco Bell for lunch, and beer-battered fish for dinner. All was great. Little did we know, our neighbor was plotting to ruin Father’s Day like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Neighbor removed his gun and walking stick, and came armed only with a camera. A camera he had been stalking us with. Many mornings as we took the kids to school, he would be standing across the street from our home with camera in hand. On Father’s Day, he walked along the easement at the back on our home where our playground is located and aimed his camera at Tom. Tom ran into the house, grabbed our camera, told the kids to stay inside, and ran out the back door.
The neighbor retreated and continued up the road, sitting on a vacant lot he claims to own.

Creepy Neighbor

Tom called the Sheriff to complain about the photography directly into our back yard. A Sheriff arrived and actually had some difficulty finding our neighbor as he was fleeing, but neighbor finally succumbed to questioning. He even showed the officer the photos on his camera. Photos of the desert, his wife, his jeep, his friends, and one of Tom flipping him off several months ago. Convenient, the photos on that card.

The Officer didn’t appreciate that last photo, and began questioning us, informing us that photography was not against the law. I said I would get a restraining order, and he advised that I go ahead and do that.

Monday morning, the day after Father’s Day, I woke early and filled out the Injunction Against Harassment forms I found online. By 9am, I was at the city courthouse. I walked up to Window A and handed my paperwork across to the clerk. She handed some back saying they weren’t needed, then handed me some that were needed but not included online. She said they would fit me in, but I may have to wait a few hours.

At 10am, I heard a familiar voice in the lobby behind me. I turned and saw my neighbor! He was coming through security, talking to the officers. I got up and informed the clerk at the window that the man who was harassing me had just walked in! She told me to leave and come back in an hour. That hardly seemed like a solution. Leave?

I headed over to security, not sure where neighbor was now, and asked them what I should do. They pointed around the corner and said I should wait at Superior Court. The clerk at Window A was now helping neighbor, but glancing over his shoulder at me. When neighbor was done and sitting in the lobby of municipal court, the clerk came over to me. She said the neighbor was filing an Injunction Against Harassment against us, and that neighbor and I would both have to appear before the judge. She would come get me when it was time.

I felt ill. It was so nerve-racking. I didn’t know I’d have to see a judge. I thought some papers would be signed, filed and that’s it. But no, you have to speak to a judge.

Ninety minutes later, the clerk came to get me. She instructed me to sit at the left desk in front of the judge. Neighbor was at the right desk. I was sworn in and promised to tell the truth. I began speaking, but too softly. The judge told me to speak up! I tried, my voice was shaky, but I told him how the neighbor was photographing us. The judge said there’s no law against that, but he would grant my Injunction Against Harassment.

Now it was time for neighbor to speak. He said that he carried the camera for protection, and talked about how Tom drove quickly up the road the day the dog was attacking our chickens. The judge said there was no evidence of my husband doing anything wrong, but granted neighbor’s Injunction Against Harassment against Tom, not me.

The judge asked me to leave the room to get my paperwork, and told neighbor to stay in the courtroom for his. I stepped outside and back to Window A. Clerk gave me my signed paperwork, and told me to go to the Sheriff’s station in the Valley. I got in my car, and headed to the station.

When I pulled up, who should also be there? Yes, neighbor. I got out of my car and went to the door. The station was closed for lunch. Eight more minutes until the doors would be unlocked. Neighbor LAUGHED, then put his phone to his ear and began RANTING. No, his phone didn’t ring. Yes, he was harassing me while I stood there with my paperwork. He yelled, “There’s TRASH on every corner! TRASH on every corner!” I pulled out my phone and began recording him. He moved to the far end of the building but continued his rant. “We have to get evidence. Start working on that evidence. She lied about me in court. That’s slander. I’m going to sue her. I called the Sheriff last night because I thought they were going to jump me. You know how adrenaline is!” On and on he went. FINALLY a Sheriff came out. He walked over to where neighbor was having his phone-fit. He opened the door of his car, and sat in it, eying neighbor. Eying that freaky, creepy neighbor. Thank God.

Eight long minutes finally passed, and the door was unlocked. I slipped inside and told the man behind the desk that the person whom I was filing this injunction against was outside. He asked if we came together. Incredulous! No! We most certainly did not! I asked if he could be served right now. Wouldn’t that be convenient?! But desk-man said no, the paperwork had to go to the neighboring town, and the injunction would be served the next day.

I was done. I drove home. Longest day ever, but I felt so brave.

Prior to going to court, I searched property and court records. What I found out about neighbor was that he had been in court five times before. He had plead guilty twice; once to verbal telephone threats and once to assault. I also found out that he filed for divorce two years ago, and the vacant lot he was sitting on belongs to his wife. I wrote about this on the Injunction Against Harassment form. And the good thing about that is that neighbor received a copy of my form. He knows that I know he doesn’t own that land, that he has verbally and physically assaulted others. And we haven’t seen him since.

• How was YOUR Father’s Day?
• Have you ever pushed yourself farther than you ever thought possible?