Saturday, January 24, 2009

Komatke Center

We spent the early part of the day at the employee grand opening of the Komatke center. Komatke is the Pima word for mountain. The center is a 90,000 square foot health care facility planned to help care for the community and surrounding Native American population. The spaces in the building are minimally used at this time and are planned for significant growth. They offer dentistry, optometry, podiatry, physical therapy, radiology, laboratory services and primary care services. All of the services are not up yet.

The grand opening consisted of several speakers, traditional music and dancers a live band, tours of the facility, and lunch. Traci has a weekend with her friends planned, Savannah is in Illinois and I am here with Shane and Sophia. I decided to take them to the opening. Shane was not impressed, fussing, fuming and crying through most of the opening activities. We took a tour of the impressive modern facilities and Shane began to warm up to the idea of being there. Sophia played the whole time, quietly bouncing around at my feet.

We had a lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers with salad, potato salad, and bbq beans. The kids ate a hot dog each and a piece of cake so when they finished they were wound up goof balls. There I was with most of the people I either work for or with and Shane was into some intriguing play of robot karate done in rapid staccato movements. At first I thought he may have been having some sort of muscle spasms but then recognized his robot/spaceship sounds he usually makes with such play.

The Ak Chin clinic I work at is an out post of the Komatke center. I thought it would be nice to see what was being offered at the parent organization and meet some of the people I had spoken with on the phone or over e-mail. The kids' wild mannerisms make me think I may have been better off to have stayed at home. The one gem of the day was meeting Cheryl and Frenoy's daughters.
Cheryl is the operations coordinator at Ak Chin. She is only filling in until someone more permanent could be hired. I have had the good fortune of being able to car pool with Cheryl off and on through the week. This helps Traci stay out of the car as long on the days she has to take the kids to school. Cheryl is Pime and Frenoy is Samoan. This combination makes for some interesting dynamics in their family. Frenoy's children came to Arizona to live with Cheryl and Frenoy and they are all Samoan. Cheryl tells how her children have such a difficult time fitting in at school. First they look different than the Pimas. They also started out only speaking Samoan so a language barrier was another problem. They have been here for several years but Cheryl states they continue to suffer harassment from the Pima children at school.

Fridays are school days for Shane. He's having difficulty separating from his mother to go to school. He goes one day a week and dreads going, or mostly dreads being away from his sweet dear mother. We endure his complaints and when he gets home he has tales of fun, adventure and learning. He seems to have a good time at school.

After the Komatke celebration we went to South Mountain and hiked. Again much protestation happened from the voices of the kids. We passed a group on horse back and the guide looked at me and said "We have pony rides for kids six and under!" When Shane was two he rode a horse at the YMCA camp in Potosi, Missouri. He spent the rest of that trip talking about "yee has", his name for horses. He was fascinated and a little obsessed about these animals. I think when this guy says this thing about riding ponies it drove Shane straight back to those days. He immediately began a passionate argument for riding the horses. A persistent request for a chance to ride the horses today set the tone of our hike around South Mountain.
He asked if he could ride by himself, if we could ride today, when can we ride, can we ride around the mountain, do they have ride right now, can we look when we leave... I did my best no to commit and also not to crush his curiosity and enthusiasm. We didn't find the stables on the way home but looked up the service online and found the specifics of the activity. We now have planned to wait until Savannah and Traci get back before we ride off into the mountains. Shane was disappointed he couldn't go horse back riding right now but moved on to a game of Ben 10. He appears to be over it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Missing Savannah

I talked to my daughter this morning. She's having fun back in IL. She has spent the past few days seeing her school friends,having slumber parties and playing in a soccer game. Over the next few days she will be with her family members, visiting Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents.

When I spoke with her last I asked if she was looking forward to coming home to Arizona. She told me, "NO!". She does miss the weather though. Maybe going back to IL was not such a good idea....

Actually we're happy she had the opportunity to go home and see everyone. (But, we are expecting you back, Miss Miller!)

We love and miss you!
Have fun and stay safe and warm.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Hair

Shane and Sophia are sporting new looks for spring. They were inspired by the fresh colors due out in the next few weeks. Sophia went with pink and purple while grass green was suits Shane well. Shane is asking if the Hulk had green hair. I couldn't remember if his hair went green with rage or if he kept his black color. We'll have to research that one.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Western Style Fun

Savannah is in Illinois and we have been coordinating her schedule from Phoenix. She's played some indoor soccer, spending nights with friends and plans a visit to school. We have been eternally grateful for our family and friends for
welcoming and caring for her back home. Meanwhile back at the ranch...

We took the two stuck in Phoenix to one of the family attractions available here in the Phoenix area. Checking the cyber world of references we found Rawhide an old western themed street with burro rides a mechanical bull, a stagecoach, a train and several shows. Rawhide is owned and operated by the Gila River Indian Community. It strikes me as a little ironic how the native community has a western themed town with only a handful of references to the people who initially settled this land. It was nearly an homage to the people who trespassed the territory and later claimed it for their own. The natives have gotten to cash in on the western theme now, everything inside the park was traditionally priced high. There was free parking and no admission into the street but no outside drinks or food were allowed. The employees were extremely friendly and helpful so given the chance we would return to the area. The kids have already asked to go back. We should go back on a different occasion as this weekend's event was a little unique.
On exploring the events going on we found AGRA to be hosting a rodeo on this weekend. Another click of the mouse reveals AGRA stands for Arizona Gay Rodeo Association. Traci and I questioned a family trip into an environment dominated by alternative lifestyles and decided to go anyway. The couples walking around the park were homogeneous in their gender. We thought we might have to answer a few questions like, "Why are those two cowboys holding hands?"
But, the kids really didn't notice. We were relieved not to have to have that discussion at this time. I'd rather not have to have any sexual questions of any kind for a few more years! The children had a great time. They rode burros and panned for gold. We all took a train ride and a stagecoach ride. We saw some gun fights and gun slinging tricks. We ate at the steakhouse enjoying rattlesnake appetizers and some nice steaks. I chose not to wear Sophia's pink hat during the day even though she aked me to put it on severl times. It was the gentleman in the black leather chaps with the bright yellow pants on highlighting his bum that steered my decision on the hat. I didn't want him to think I was trying to upstage him.


Leaving the steakhouse Sophia saw the band playing on the road side stand. The band would ask for kids to come up and play tambourine or a blow up guitar for duration of the song. Sophie desperately wanted to get on stage and play with the band. As she stood up on the platform an enormous smile broke across her face and she rattled maracas the entire length of the song, never breaking her smile. The only problem with the whole experience was the song ended and she had to get down.
So she begged to go again this time joined by her brother Shane. She grinned and grinned the smile of someone experiencing the resolute arrival at her true destiny. She was disappointed when dad pulled the plug saying we had to leave.

Sunday was going to be a trip north to watch the football game with some friends. They called and reported their son had the flu, the same flu that had run through their entire family in the past week nearly putting some of them in the hospital. We pray for their quick recovery.

We ended up at the train park in Scottsdale, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. They have a few train engines, large scale train rides, a carousel, and playground equipment.

Shane and Sophia ran around the park playing on the equipment, fought a little to keep the sibling thing real, and rode the train and carousel. Traci went to Lisa's after the park. I was able to catch the last five minutes of the Arizona Cardinal's victory then Shane, Sophie and I swam a little and settled in for the evening. The weekend has passed again. We plan to stay close to home for the next few weeks. Savannah will be playing soccer on Saturdays.