Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Happy Thanksgiving

Pit Stop: Grand Canyon

We never planned on seeing the Grand Canyon, but finding out that it would be a slight detour on our way from Phoenix, and knowing we might not get this chance again soon, we decided to put our National Parks Pass to use again this year, and stop at....THE GRAND CANYON!
From Phoenix, we drove to Flagstaff, and from there we followed the signs to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Wow! This was the most crowded of any Park we'd been to and we would soon find out why.
Wow! We walked along the overlook trail, with this amazing view unfolding along the way.
See those people out there on what looks like death's corridor? Those are all my loved ones. I'm sure it was more terrifying to watch them than to be with them. My heart weakened with each step that took them closer to the edge.


Drove to a few other viewpoints on our way out of the Grand Canyon.

Eventually made it to the Highway through an Indian Reservation that would connect us to Page, Arizona, our half-way point.  The drive added only 2 hours to our already long drive, but it was worth it to see this!

Phoenix - filled Day

 Our first day in Phoenix was full of wedding celebrating. Day 2 we packed with sightseeing and family events. The itinerary was as follows:
The soccer game of 7- year old little cousin in Scottsdale.
 Desert hike
Early Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant
Night at the family friendly comedy club
I don't know if we won or lost the soccer game, but the important thing is we were all there for the "tunnel of victory." The parents form two lines, raising their arms to form a tunnel for all the kids to run through.  Who wouldn't feel like a winner after that?!
After that event it was on to the desert hike.
This hike, Camelback is in the middle of the Phoenix metro area and provides an awesome view from all sides. Most of these hearty youngsters (my nephews and nieces) and my own kids went on further to climb the towering boulders. The hike took us 2 hours at a snappy pace, and lots of water (thanks to my nephew for giving me his)
For the Norwegian, the desert scenery was a stark contrast from her Northern clime. We were all loving 80 degrees in November! 
 We had our early Thanksgiving at Cracker Barrel and then headed to the comedy club.
This picture just makes me happy. I think it is because palm trees and Christmas are in the same scene, plus some cute kids.
Comedy club, Jesterz, was a first for us. This was a family-friendly, audience participate kind of comedy club. We had a great time. Our hotel was next to a huge shopping mall, Superstition springs. We wished we had more days to enjoy all the city offerings with our fun Phoenix family but it was a quick trip!

Getting There is Half the Fun

It's always good to break up a 9 hour drive, especially when you have 5 kids in a minivan.
We stopped at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah
We took off our shoes and ran for the hills--vast, rose-colored mounds of the finest sand imaginable
Tumble down, race up, repeat.
As the only other tourist in the park observed, "Your kids are gonna be whooped for wherever you're going next." That was the plan!
We arrived in Phoenix right during rush hour. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Birthday Boy and a Bride

  What an eventful day. We enjoyed the beautiful wedding of my beautiful niece in the Mesa, Arizona Temple.
It was also the birthday of Man of the House.

Our girls were flower girls for the 2nd time in their lives. The first time was for the bride's sisters, 2 years ago in California. 

After, we ate at Tia Rosas, a family favorite for Mexican food. The birthday guy got a margarita glass full of fried ice cream with the works, compliments of the chef.

Reception was lovely. Girls had fun with the photo ops. There was a flash mob dance, catered dinner, dancing--which our family can't resist--at least my generation, and of course wedding cake!

What a beautiful day, Nov. 20, 2015. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

9 Fall Traditions

When you have an exchange student living with you, you get excited to share with them all your Fall family traditions. (You also try not to yell at your kids as much)
So, besides the foliage and the pumpkin patch, I already posted about, here are some other must-do's of the season, according to our family.
1. Homemade donuts.
I am sure nothing could have been invented to mess up a kitchen quicker but they are oh so good and yes, worth the mess. It takes an assembly line to make these--one to cut out, one to fry, and another to glaze. These must be shared with neighbors.

2. Haunted Corn Maze
We didn't get there early enough to ride the redneck roller coaster but dark is when the corn maze turns haunted and we like a good scare. Finland and Norway came with us. We may have been few in number but you never would have known with the volume of screams from these girls.
3. Family Halloween Party
limbo, piƱata, cake-walk, pin the nose on the witch, donut contest, scary story, monster mash dance, riddles, soup and rolls...There was a LOT going on at the family party at the church...but the best was back at the house for the hayride through "Haunted Haskelville." Some of the uncles and older cousins go all out to make this a really fun tradition. I swear it gets better every year.  

4. Caramel apples 
5. Jumping (or burrowing) in the leaves.
That there is a pile of boy cake with leaf frosting.

6. Pumpkin carving
  J was proud of her first ever Jack-o lantern. B used a drill on hers. I look forward to the day when ALL the kids can carve their own pumpkins because my cut job didn't quite live up to the expectations of the 7-year old.

7. Turkey Trot--5k
We had 3 runners in the family, well 4, if you count me jogging alongside Bud to help him keep his pace. A and C ran the kids 1-mile run. BD did the 5k. He and A won our family a couple of turkeys!
It must feel good to win!

8. Pine-nuts
Roasting pine-nuts is more of a Christmas tradition but they are harvested in the Fall. Apparently pine nuts are abundant right up in the hills above town! We headed up there on Sunday, only we were a little late in the season. We found them alright. They do exist. But they were old and dried up and we got very pine gummy...

You'll notice a theme here with our traditions: MESSY, STICKY, GOOEY.

9. Trick-or Treating
We are down to 3 this year. They all went with friends which left BD and I to answer the door 150 times. You might think this one isn't messy but you'd be wrong. I have picked up at least 150 wrappers in our house since the night of the big loot. I think after the family inservice on how to load the dishwasher we'll do one about putting garbage in the GARBAGE CAN.

Oh well! It's Fall and we are loving it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

8 Hour Spiritual Feast

I like to learn. I like to watch TED talks while folding laundry and talk radio while driving. I like to gather good information from all sources. Nothing is more inspiring and more a feast of spirituality for me than LDS General Conference. 
 I LOVED it this year!
This year, as is tradition,  my niece and her little family came down to visit. We went to Christensen's Department store and everyone picked out their favorite candy to share while watching talks on TV.
We also have a vegetable tray, fruit, and cheese and crackers. But, who cares about that. 

For these guys it's all about the candy!! 

You know something's up when it's too quiet. We caught this kid a couple of times--the best was under the ping pong table feasting on the entire tray of candy. What a happy, secret, world he was living for a minute...

Shenanigans during conference. Dad is "stair patrol" for those who think they can grab a handful of candy and skedaddle.

As I mentioned, I LOVED Conference. I gleaned so much. Here are a few of the gems that spoke to me personally and didn't the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing amazing, "Come, Come Ye Saints."

What lack I yet?  Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion  The gospel is so simple, a child can understand, yet so complex it would take more than a lifetime to completely comprehend. You are rich if you can live happily within your means/avoid debt. We marry potential not perfection. A mother's love is the closest example to Jesus' love for us. The world fights for children's identity and mind. We must win this fight. This calling is not about me. It is about the Lord and his work. When you get an impression, DO IT!! Women are distinct and different than women of the world in happy ways. PONDERIZE weekly. The Lord gives us commandments because he LOVES us. Obedience is our expression of love toward HIM. When you can't do what you've always done, you only do what matters most. FAMILY is the center of life and the key to eternal happiness.