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.

Friday, November 28, 2014

School Fun

I love going on field trips with my kids. Despite the noisy bus, it gives me a chance to pay special attention to just one of my kids, and they always feel so special. This time I went to the Chandler chuck wagon cook off. Now I had no idea Chandler had this cool event going on every year... well, I knew they had a chuck wagon cook off, but I didn't know how cool it was! Each group of about 15 kids went to a different chuck wagon to learn something about frontier life, and then we switched every so often. There were a lot of wagons, and since they are judged on authenticity, they dress in frontier clothing and have many antique items. There was one man who had a teepee and taught us about Native American life at that time.

The blacksmith makes all sorts of items for the people with the chuck wagons. He gave us a demonstration of how he forms some of the things he has for sale.

There was a facade of an old west town, and they did a few skits teaching us about the guns of the time period and snake oil salesmen. The lessons they taught the kids there: don't play with guns, and don't do drugs!!

Kallie's class with the cast.

After the skits, we went to some more wagons. This one taught about what a cowboy would keep in his pack.

The kids couldn't keep their hands off all the interesting items.

After the field trip, Paige had a Veteran's Day choir concert. All of the grades participated to some degree, but the choir was featured. They had so many veterans there from all branches of the armed forces, and I was just happy to have the opportunity to be there as a small way to thank them for their sacrifices.

Paige is in the back row to the left, right under a blue star... and by that I mean it looks like it's on her head.

Yearbook picture.

It was a good day.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Love to See the Temple

On the very last day of the Phoenix Temple open house, we finally had time to cross town and go see it! Kyle and I enjoyed comparing the motif of the Gilbert Temple to the motif of this temple. The lines were long and slow, so we had time to notice the details. What really stood out was that the font was an oval instead of a circle, and there was a painting behind it that made it look like the water in the painting was flowing directly into the font when you are looking at it from the observation room. Wonderful spirit there, and we were glad we went even though our day was really busy with a funeral in the morning and stake conference meetings at night.

Blessed to have so many temples in Arizona now.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Welcome to the Freak Show

Okay, this isn't the freak show quite yet. This year Kallie was Super Cat! She told me she wanted to be a cat for Halloween, and then when Paige wanted to be a super hero, Kallie wanted to be a super hero, too. And a cat. I suggested she be a super cat, and I made this costume for her.

Brandon loves wearing Kallie's old dragon costume, so he decided he wanted to be a dinosaur this Halloween. Roarrrrrr!

Paige was her own kind of super hero. She dreamed up what Super Paige would look like, and I made it happen. She helped me sew the leg warmers and the fingerless gloves!

Now for the freak show. Can you believe that sign was sold as a shower curtain? Some people have odd taste, but it worked well for our Circus Freakus.

Russ kept the circus going while I took the kids trick-or-treating. Kallie managed to score a soda at one house, but unfortunately it was the last one, and Brandon didn't get one. When we went to this door, he asked the homeowner for a soda. Kids are funny.

One last shot of the amazing three headed man.

And the whole crew, except for the grumpy dinosaur.

And now welcome to the end of the October posts! Woohoo!! I'm catching up!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jack O'Lanterns

There are two kinds of people in this family: those who will dig the guts out of a pumpkin, and those who won't. That meant Paige and I had to do all the digging!

Brandon mostly played in our vase full of body parts. The one we had in the kitchen... killing everyone's appetites. I should keep it out all year! I'd save a bundle on groceries!

When it came time for carving, we called in the big guns: DAD! Good thing because Kyle cut his thumb once when we let him use a giant bread slicing knife (yeah, what were we thinking?!?!). We should try power tools next year like Danika's family.

Ready for Halloween!