Thursday, December 11, 2014

November Roundup

In a perfect world, I would have had these pictures posted already and in their own separate posts... so now you know I'm not perfect! But you'll also know we were too busy having fun and making memories to be perfect, so I'm cool with that. For one thing, I forgot to post about Kallie's pierced ears, which actually happened before the baptism. Oops. Here's the before picture.

The smile didn't look quite as genuine in the after picture.

But it didn't take her long to bounce back!

Afterward, we went to the mall with all the cousins to fill up the build-a-bear that Kallie got for her birthday. She had Rarity, the My Little Pony unicorn.

The kids took a ride on the carousel, and it was pretty much impossible to get that perfect shot with all of them in the frame. Oh well. Don't forget Brandon was on there, too!

Okay, fast forward to the night after Kallie's baptism. Some of us decided to head to the farm for some good old fashioned fun. I just love this picture of my cowboy by the campfire with the tractor in the background.

Russ' brother was dead set on getting my dad's old dirt bike running.

After several hours, a lot of pushing, and some blood... success! Sounds a lot like childbirth. Just sayin'.

The kids had too much fun to notice how much time we spent there. We were all hungry afterward, so we headed to the pizza place in Florence. It was a late but fun night. Good thing the temple dedication was the next day so that we wouldn't have to wake up at the crack of seven.

On to Paige's birthday (and my birthday, too!), I went to school to have lunch with her, headed to the mall to get some cute jeans that my mom bought for me, and then went back to the school with Paige's special request... sugar cookies! Brandon scored one, too.

After school, Paige and I headed back to the mall to buy her some clothing at Justice, and then we all went to Joe's BBQ for dinner with my parents. Two birthdays meant $20 off our order. What a great plan! She had a giant rootbeer float instead of a birthday cake, and I had the not-so-great cheesecake. Happy birthday to us!

The following Saturday, we went hiking at South Mountain to get pictures and video for my final school project. We got a late start, so we couldn't reach our destination, but we still got some great views of Phoenix on the Mormon Trail.

One of the reasons we didn't get as far as planned is because we had to head to the farm to pick up Kyle, who was working there to earn some money, and then rush over to the stake rodeo. My friends looked adorable, and I looked like I just climbed a mountain. Russ went to pick up Kyle's friend and some jackets and met up with us later. Meanwhile, the kids were excited to ride on the ponies and the train.

And then the foot rodeo began.

Kallie participated in the chicken chase, but she said she could never even get close to a chicken. I'm not surprised considering the horde of children that were there. Run, chickens, RUN!!

She looks at home on that fence. Just needs some boots and a cowgirl hat.

After all that was over and my school project was turned in, the guilt started creeping in about Paige's birthday. Poor girl has to share it with her mom, and she didn't even get to blow out candles. To make up for it, we invited her friends to play laser tag with her. Before the first game, I gave them all tokens for the arcade.

My favorite: skee ball!

They are about to flush my money down the toilet... so to speak.

Don't worry, Brandon made up for it by winning the grand prize at Colorama, the arcade equivalent of roulette. My camera was so slow to take pictures in the darkness that I caught Russ' victory dance just by accident.

While the girls were in the laser tag arena, Brandon and Russ played a game of air hockey.

Awesome scores!

All right, Thanksgiving weekend gets its own separate post, so that's it for now.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Baptism Day

I sewed and sewed and sewed because I wanted her to be gorgeous. I made the dress, but she was just born beautiful. And sweet. And very loving. She could not wait until her baptism day.

Proud parents.

After her baptism, I asked her how she felt, and she said, "I feel pretty inside." I never want to forget that because I think it was a little girl's way of understanding an eternal truth.

Afterward, we headed home for a luncheon, and the girl cousins near Paige's age all rode in the very back seat of our car.

It was a lovely day full of family and friends, and at the end of it all, Kallie was delighted as she said, "All of these people came here for me!" What a blessing to have so many wonderful family members there with us to celebrate.

Even if they are silly sometimes...

Okay, a lot.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Recharging in Jerome and Prescott

As far as stress and loaded calendars go, the first two weeks of November were absolutely brutal for me. I had to sew a fairly advanced baptism dress in record time, and one of my major school projects was due on my birthday. Between those and all the little things sprinkled in between, I was working morning until night, and I felt a little bad when my kids didn't have anyone to cook them dinner. But my birthday was coming up, and whenever I think of what I would most want to do on my birthday, it always ends up being that I just want to get outside and spend time with my family. With everything that needed to be done, I knew everyday life would take up all my time if I didn't force myself to go, so I planned a trip to Jerome and Prescott. And off we went...

But there was a problem with the dress, so I made the family stop at a couple of JoAnn stores on the way, only to be disappointed. The upshot was that we found a candy store with bananas galore... Russ' fave.

We spent Saturday afternoon in Jerome, our first stop being the old mine shaft. The kids are standing on a piece of plexiglass that was covering the 1900 foot deep shaft. It was a little disconcerting.

I put my camera lens through the grate to take this picture... it just disappears into the black abyss.

Brandon tried out the elevator that the men used to take down into the mine. Claustrophobia!

Next we went to the Douglas mansion and museum. The kids loved the model train.

They thought this 1950's soda fountain was pretty cool, too.

I'm kind of secretly fascinated by rocks and minerals, so I liked this cool black light display of phosphorescent minerals. I found out Arizona is like the number one state for rock collecting.

After the museum, we spent some quarters on the scopes that looked out over the city. It takes a while to get things focused and get the kids at a height and angle where they can actually see through those funky goggles, so we didn't end up seeing much since they are really stingy with the time. But it was a pretty overlook.

Never ones to miss all the exciting tourist stops, we headed over to the sliding jail that slid down the mountain in 1905. Apparently Jerome was plagued by rock slides and fires. And apparently the prisoners listened to Depeche Mode because that was what was written on the wall inside.

After watching a movie about Jerome at the museum, we learned about this coin toss that the city made out of the ruins of a hotel. We were told they make thousands of dollars with this each year. By the way, they had a semi-transparent "ghost" hosting the movie, and we all cracked up when Brandon asked, "Is that Jesus?"

The day was done, and I felt entitled to my favorite kind of dinner: steak. Beef may just be my favorite food. I'm such a carnivore! We ate at a little place called Leff-T's, which was pretty good, and then we went back to the hotel for the night. For some reason, it always seems to be the kids' favorite part of the trip. All day we kept hearing, "When are we going to the hotel?"

The next morning, I decided on one of my favorite family activities... hiking. We found this place called granite gardens and had a picnic there before setting out on our hike.

Taking a break.

Just when we were about to turn back, we saw this "tomb" in the mountain. Since it was Sunday, we had our gospel lesson pretty much handed to us!

Encouraged by the tomb, we took another side trail to the grotto. I mean, who wouldn't want to go check out a place called the grotto? I've eaten at the Pizza Grotto in San Diego, and that was good, so I had high hopes that all grottoes are awesome.

And it still holds true. We had fun squeezing through this narrow rock pass... aka grotto.

Russ went through the hard way... aka the birth canal (named by me in memory of that time Lori and I were standing on a giant rock at Lake Powell while a shirtless Chad was struggling to get up there with us, and Lori said, "It looks like you are being born!").

I just had to photograph this interesting rock. Now you will see we are cultured people because we thought it looked like a butt. Not a peach... no, no... a butt.

It was fun scrambling up and around all the rock formations. What an interesting little slice of Prescott.

After that hike, we had to cross a stream back to the main road. Well we didn't have to, but Russ was pretty darn excited when he saw a truck coming from the other direction with its undercarriage dripping. He takes every opportunity he can to put our car in 4-wheel-drive.

Unfortunately for Russ, I hadn't had my fill. This time I wanted something with more trees, so we headed into the forest.

We followed an easy little trail that followed a stream around Thumb Butte.

Sorry, you knew I would have to put a couple nature pictures in here, didn't you? The texture on this pine tree was fascinating to me.

Paige took my camera a bunch of times to snap some photos... aw, cute!

Love this pic. I wanted to be a cool mom, so I agreed to buy 10 cans of different flavors of Pringles. Brandon carried the dill pickle flavor the whole way (I can't say I blame him... best flavor ever!).

Something magical about this photo.

Russ was toast by this time. So done. What a good husband for hanging in there for his wife's sake. I was feeling recharged and ready to face another busy week ahead, while he was thinking it was time to go home to finally relax.

I love this photo, too! My sweetlings. Good thing I made sure to comb their hair that morning so they wouldn't look like homeless children in the gobs of photos I was planning to take that day.

Kids and streams... they have a way of saying summer, exploration, wonder, and childhood all at once.

At the end of the day, we found the perfect little ice cream shop.

Her face says it all.