Friday, January 16, 2015

Beautiful, Cold New Year

I don't know when or how it started, but now it just seems right to go on a bike ride New Year's Day. The cold weather tested our determination, but we broke out the hats and mittens and pressed forward. Our pioneer ancestors would be proud!

Then there were the bikes. Just try to fit six people and two full size bikes inside an Expedition! Russ was so frustrated that he eventually walked off, but I have this stubborn will that sometimes tries to force things at all costs. Broken reflector, bent spoke, marks on the ceiling of the car... and a very uncomfortable ride for me and Paige in the very back seat.

To add to the circus act, one of the bicycle's tires wouldn't hold air, so we left it in the car anyway. That meant Russ was on his feet.

Happy day, all is well. That's the spirit of '47!

The autumn leaves were picturesque. I framed all sorts of beautiful photographs in my head, but when it came to snapping them, the people didn't always cooperate. All you can see of Kallie is her foot sticking out of Paige. This is the photographer's burden.

Everyone spent some time walking except me, since I had on Rollerblades. I did, however, spend some time carrying the scooter. Lugging a scooter and taking pictures with a DSLR camera while on skates... pretty talented, right?

Okay this one turned out just how I planned. Oh how exciting to come upon a tunnel!!

There were many backdrops for our journey, but I think this one was my favorite.

"Paige, hurry! Get up and start going so I can get the perfect picture!" It was to have some people and one big overhanging tree in the foreground, some people in the background, and a path lined with more beautiful autumn trees... but just a few moments too late. Aw shucks. Crop. I'll take what I can get.

Snapped this just before another dude came riding up the hill the other direction. You win some, you lose some. Okay, is this post about me taking pictures or about our journey? Somewhere on this path, we decided to ride to Goldman's Deli instead of going back to the car. The plan was for me to ride Kyle's bicycle back to get the car while everyone enjoyed some refreshments. (Why couldn't I remember that I didn't have shoes?)

Google Maps didn't show us this locked gate, though. That didn't stop us. Does little Brandon look like a champ or what?

What did stop us was the fact that Goldman's Deli was only open until 3pm and it was already 4pm. Oh shoot... holiday hours! Luckily there was an Albertsons in the same shopping center, and we slipped in for some doughnuts and milk (and much needed warmth). You know, people don't generally bother you when you skate around the store slowly. I figured I could say the skates were medical devices... they would have fallen for that, right?

The kids laughed that they looked like homeless children. I had to agree. Kyle especially, with his bum hat and fingerless gloves.

The sun was going down, so it was getting a lot colder by the time it came time to discuss retrieving the car. Russ, in his shorts, offered to do it if I didn't want to... he's my knight in shining armor! Sometimes it's lucky that his body runs at a warmer temperature than mine... at bedtime when I need someone to put my popsicle feet on, and on cold New Year's Day bike rides. Yes, we crammed both bikes back in the car (I was a little tempted to leave one). This time, we couldn't close the back window, and Paige and I froze all the way home. Not to worry... I had purchased our traditional New Year's Day food while Russ was retrieving the car... some nice, juicy steaks. That fixed everything!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve was what I like to call an accidental party. We wanted to see Brian Regan live, but I failed to buy tickets before there were only single seats left. Since we had invited friends, I felt like a doofus and invited them over to our house instead. Then the thinking went something like this... if I already have some people coming over, I might as well have more... and once a couple more families accepted, I felt like I had to plan games and mop the floor, too. That's how the party was born, folks!

This year we decided to do the fireworks first, out of courtesy for our neighbors. Apparently some people just like to go to sleep New Year's Eve... nobody I know, of course. Wink, wink. We had two big bonfires to keep people warm because it was unseasonably cold... it even snowed in Mesa that night!

When we ran out of fireworks, it was time for games. One of my other friends was planning "Minute to Win It" for her party, so she shared some ideas with me. Being that it was an accidental party, I was planning this all around 4pm, but I managed to pull some fun activities together. This pantyhose elephant challenge really got us laughing.

Shawn knew my social media plans, so I wasn't able to get a picture of him in these fabulous antlers.

While Russ and I were doing the cotton ball challenge, someone mentioned that we looked like chickens pecking at our food. I couldn't stop laughing, and I couldn't get the second cotton ball off my nose, either, so the ladies ended up 0 and 3.

These two gymnasts weren't supposed to touch the ground with any part of their body except their feet, so even though the guys claim a clean sweep, I'm thinking they cheated!

Meanwhile, the kids were playing games of their own.

And rocking out to our awesome New Year's Eve playlist on the party rocker.

After "Minute to Win It," we dusted off the old Cranium game. I forgot how fun it is!

I don't think I'll ever forget Shawn's sign for bull. I didn't get a photo of it... DARN! It was best with motion and sound anyway.

These two had to unscramble "rescue rump." Fail.

We totally didn't cheat... we just got lucky and landed on all the right spots! Nobody wanted to see us play the last round just to rub it in their faces.

The game ended at 11:45, and our friends' daughter was so done with the New Year's Eve party, so they went home just ten minutes before midnight! The rest of us prepared to celebrate.

Everybody else made it without too many tears, surprisingly. Here we are waiting for the strike of 12.

Since we were out of fireworks, Russ went ghetto on us and banged a pot... this picture turned out super freaky. He looks like he's doing some ritual.

We lit the remaining sparklers and let the sparkling apple cider flow... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Looking forward with excitement to 2015!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Love to See the Temple... Lights

There are things that I must do in order for it to feel like Christmas, and going to the Mesa temple lights is one of those things. With everything else going on, we couldn't make it before Christmas, but it was actually kind of nice going after Christmas because I wasn't stressed out anymore and the crowds had died down. It made my heart happy to walk on those grounds with my family. There is something about this grand building glistening in stark contrast to the dark night that inspires awe.

Though it seems impossible for this magnificent light display to get any better, they always add something new and cool every year.

Our favorite picture spot next to the visitor center.

Inside they had their usual display of nativities from around the world. I only wish they told you where to order because some of them were so cool!

The kids loved the case with the miniature nativities.

Luckily I convinced everyone to walk through the main garden one more time. I love how the temple is peeking through the trees.

A place of reflection (get it?).

Paige made sure there was a picture of me.


Thursday, January 8, 2015


Christmas morning eventually arrived, just like it always does. And amazingly enough, we were ready for it. This year the tree was in the living/formal room instead of the family room, so the kids got a peek at it as they went down the stairs.

Kallie was delighted to see that Santa granted her wish for a doll house, even though her dad swore against it after the girls left their old one out so many times that it was finally donated to the DI.

Kallie waited patiently to see if Brandon would like the die cast car and plane that she got for him. He sure did!

Paige's heartbreak was mended a bit after Puffles Jr. came to replace Puffles Sr., which she lost in California back in January. I never saw a kid cry for a stuffed animal more than she did for Puffles. She loves Puffles Jr. just as much.

Our hearts melted when we opened this gift from Kallie. Aren't homemade gifts from kids the best?

The new laptop competed with Puffles Jr. for best gift of the day, but I think Puffles Jr. still might have won. Kyle was excited to finally have a computer that is powerful enough for the Civilizations game he bought a few years ago. YEARS!

The kids spent an embarrassingly long amount of time playing their new Lego Wii game.

Meanwhile, Russ went out to build his new workbench!! He has the best wife ever.

I have to admit I was afraid to get Legos after hearing from other moms of boys, but I knew I couldn't hold out forever. And so it begins.

I was able to convince Paige to take a long enough break from her new game to try her new scooter with wheels that light up. COOL!

Before long, Will and Kyle showed up on the scene with a new guinea pig for the girls. The girls named her Wyld Style. Gee, I wonder why!

Then the boys opened their gifts.

Clothes, clothes, and more clothes... he looked mighty good in them!

Pretty talented with the punch balloon Paige gave to Kyle, too.

Christmas Day was Kallie's target date for changing out her earrings for the first time. She got these cute K earrings that were perfect for the occasion.

Later on, it was time to go to my parents' house for Christmas 2.0. Gems was happy just to carry her gift around.

The girls had fun opening their gifts with their cousins and comparing the spoils.

Oh man, Paige was excited to get the party rocker (and so was I). We were all set for New Year's Eve!!

Will and Kyle were at their mom's for Christmas, so they didn't get to go to my parents' house Christmas night. The next day, Kyle opened the present he had been hoping for... a sword!

As usual, we are blessed beyond measure, and just writing this blog made me realize even more how much we've been given. More than anything, I'm grateful to have a wonderful family and that we're all healthy. I know a lot of my friends were going through very difficult trials over the Christmas season, and I'm sure that will be me one of these years, but I'm just thankful for now that all is well. I just want to celebrate my many blessings and squeeze all the joy I can out of these happy times.