Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in AZ Part 3: Chad's Family

Somehow we managed to arrange a trip at the same time as Chad's sister Ann. She, her husband David, and her two adorable twin girls flew in from Dallas the same week we were there. Last we saw these two girls they were not even a year old. Now they are talking, running, crazy two year olds. They are so adorable. It was great to be around them for a few days.

We spent the days doing what Chad's family loves to do. Hanging around the house, playing games, and eating food. We got the kids out mini golfing, and laser tagging, and nerf gun fighting. But mostly we just loved the time to be together talking and catching up. It was a great few days.

                                           Group shot of all the grandkids with G and G
Group shout with GAC. We love Great Aunt Cathy. Wrestling with George, the oldest and the favorite cousin.

It was a great trip. Too short, but fun. Until next time you crazy AZ people!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas in AZ side trip: The college Girls

Over the years, my closest friends from college have kept in touch. We started a scripture reading group Freshman year that ballooned into close to 17 people at one time. They were the rock that kept me grounded as I tried to find my bearings being away from home for the first time. A few of us were able to gather at the park and catch up for a few hours. It was wonderful to see them and meet a few of the kids I've heard about but never met in person. These ladies will always hold a special place in my heart.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas in AZ Part 2: Tucson

We had to make a trip to Tucson. We still own our house there and needed to check on it. We also wanted to see our friends there. They were our second family. Although our family was only two hours away (vs. six by plane now), they were the ones we relied on day to day. I miss those friends and relationships. We spent ten years building those friendships and it has been hard not to have them so near any longer.

My good good friend Laurel was kind enough to let us crash at her house. She got a party together at a ranch she frequents with her kids. It was so good to see our favorite people again.

Again no group picture. I'm pretty sure someone took one. I need to start begging for copies.

The next day at church we caused quite the uproar walking into our old ward just a few minutes before the meeting was to start. I felt like a bit of a celebrity :) Again, so great to see so many friends and neighbors. I wish we could have stayed a while longer.

But it was time to go back to Mesa to see Chad's family.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas in AZ Part 1: Luann's Family

 We went back to AZ for Christmas. It was a quick two week trip that we had to split three ways. Hectic, crazy, and not nearly long enough. We started out at Luann's parents, spent the weekend in Tucson, and then came back to the Phoenix area to see Chad's family.

It was great to get away from the cold. I didn't it suspect it to be so warm though! It was close to 80 when we flew in. Now I know why I never wore boots while in AZ. They're stifling!

In returning to AZ I found a new appreciation for it's wide open spaces. New England is very closed in. It's green, but with all those trees you can't see anything but the green.

The sky is so big and beautiful. And the mountains!  I've missed them.

We visited with Luann's family for a few days. We did some hiking, had a family gathering, took some family pictures. I have no pictures of any of us with family members. I need to do better about that in the future, especially since we'll only really be getting together every year or so.

We also drove out to see my brother and his brand new baby boy, Luann's nephew Austin. He's a cutie.

Then it was off to Tucson to see our adopted family down there.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Gingerbread Man

Our favorite Christmas tradition: Reading the Gingerbread Man with daddy. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas In Salem

Salem Massachusetts opens up some of it's historic homes for tours during Christmas. A local nursery decks them up in Christmas greens and people volunteer to lead tours through the houses.  I was able to be a tour guide at one of the houses. This particular house was fun because it had a ghost story. Apparently a former resident who died in the house had taken to haunting an upstairs room. The current residents said their dog had alerted them to it's presence. You can't be in Salem without hearing a good ghost story.

Afterwards I toured some other houses with my good friend Valerie. It was a very fun day and hope to do it again next year.

In front of the Custom house
USS Friendship off of Derby Wharf
This house has been used as a home for the elderly since the late 1800s. It was one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tree Hunting

For Christmas this year we went to AZ. I really prefer not to travel for Christmas because I miss all my favorite Christmas traditions. Decorating the house, putting up the nativity, making goodies for neighbors, Messiah sing a longs...Even though we were gone for a week and a half, I couldn't go without a tree. Christmas just isn't the same without a tree in the house. I really love having a real tree. Getting the tree is a big part of the fun.

Do these kids ever stay still?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013

Nothing was documented in November. Soccer wrapped up, weather got cold, leaves totally disappeared, Thanksgiving happened with 20+ people from 5 families, and Luann took a picture of some unidentified object:

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Kindergarten Thanksgiving

What is Thanksgiving without a concert put on by kindergarteners dressed up as pilgrims and Indians? Follow that up with Thanksgiving themed craft projects and the holiday is complete. What a fun way to celebrate with my little guys. Mr. S was so brave to get up there and be with him. Love that boy!

He's very intent on his work. I love Kindergarten.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day Hike...That Ended Tragically

The kids had Veteran's Day off, so we went on a hike. Chad was working (the bum). So we went off on our own with some friends. We had a lot of fun and the kids toughed it out at the end. There may have been a bit of complaining toward the end as we trudged up a fairly steep hill. I guess that means we need to do more hiking!

This craziness only happened pre-hike. They were pretty worn out at the end.
Unfortunately this fun little adventure will always mark a fairly embarrassing and painful mishap for me. One little girl had to use the restroom and we chose to go home to do so instead of going in the woods. By the time we were home, someone was a bit desperate and had been letting me know for a while. I should have just stopped at Target. But we were almost home! I rushed up to the door to let her in the house and tripped in a hole in the ground. Down I went right onto the concrete steps, skinning my hand and hitting my head.

Thank goodness for fantastic neighbors who dropped everything to take me to urgent care. I was fine. No concussion or broken bones. My hand wound took a few weeks to recover. The gauze wrapping made it look worse than it actually was. But it is something I'll always remember. The kids kindly put cones in the front yard to prevent any further tripping incidents on the way to the front door.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween 2014

Just the yearly post on how the children made out for Halloween.
There was too much candy as always. G-man got to go with some neighbors to the rich area of town, and ended up getting tons of candy, including a number of full-size candy bars. That is just not right, that I have to help him eat them up. The other kids did just fine getting their stash, and did finally get sick of the candy. Kind of.
The little boys got to re-enact Star Ways, and totally loved the costumes, and have worn the outfits for weeks. JW even slept in his Darth Vader costume multiple times. And the classic move JW does is the Dark Force lightening from his hand. He totally gets into the action!
The side note on this one is that I love how the grass is soft enough to have bear feet on. Water is a miracle!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

G-man's 11th

Last prime birthday until 13! Oh, wait, that is not very interesting. Trying again...

First birthday while in Middle School! Hm, not much better...

Penultimate birthday before being a teenager. Yeah, let's go with that.

Not much to see here: he is still a fun kid. Loves reading, playing soccer, reading, a little iffy on middle school, loves Minecraft. One great kid!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Decorations

Nothing particular about this post, except some of our most interesting decorations for Halloween put up in October.
First, what would Halloween be if not for the (nasty) Halloween cereals? This year there were five to collect, and thankfully Market Basket had them on sale plus a coupon. They decorated our window shelf next to the table, for ease of access. Even JW didn't get into them, as they were not that tasty.

Second, last Christmas, I unilaterally decided (yes, some protest after the fact by the family CEO; I am merely the CFO, but can hide the expenses! :)) to collect the Lego Monster Fighters theme. Totally works for the Halloween theme. The real problem is the number of hours I "have" to spend setting them all up. But, the kids help (loose pieces) so it also counts as quality time, right? The picture doesn't do it justice as to the sheer number of figures, buildings, and vehicles. Not so great that they also have a Christmas line...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Luann's 29th, 2014 Edition

I don't even remember how YOUNG my wife is, right? She did me a solid, and picked out her own birthday present, and arranged all the details. I present to you the result:

The kids had a good time while taking pictures. There was even a session that involved some sticks as swords or light sabers, depending on the child. JW even found one to use as a gun.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Aunt Ruthy Visits

I convinced Ruth to come out and visit. We had maybe two years living in the same state before I decided to up and move away. I guess we were never meant to live close to one another. I miss having her close by to hang out with, be there for my kids, and shop for me (seriously, I have no fashion sense).  We went on a grand tour of Boston and tried to show here as much as we could in the four days we had her.

Apple Picking in NH

Fenway Park

Hey, it's Baby Ruth (her nickname growing up
Cape Cod Bay: The water was super cold
Can You tell we're sisters?
Our little buddy at lunch.
One of the trip highlights. Getting stuck watching a bridge lift and let a ship through. First time experience and very exciting. I think the people behind us thought we were crazy as we were taking pictures of the bridge. We didn't mind the 20 minute delay at all.

I miss you Ruth! Come back again. SOON!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Half Marathon

After running Ragnar, I realized the only thing that motivates me to run regularly is signing up for a race. Since I can't start small, I decided to sign up for a half marathon. I ran 15 miles total for Ragnar. So why not 13 miles all at once instead of spread out over two days?

It was really difficult, especially at the end. However, the feeling of accomplishment was wonderful. To achieve such a lofty goal in such a short time was exciting.

Pre-Race Pics
Thank you Tara for joining me!

It begins.
Beautiful view of the ocean
I did it!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kayaking the Charles 2014

As a date, I took Luann to the Charles River to kayak. Not the most exciting date ever, but it was fun to do something different than just a movie or dinner. One side benefit of the place I work is that they have two single-person kayaks that you can borrow. Oh, and they are also right on the Charles river, and you can grab the kayaks and drop right in the river and go.
Things to note when kayaking on the Charles:

  1. The river is not that deep.
  2. Stay out of the way of the rowing teams practicing. They actually move quite fast!
  3. Selfies are really hard when in a kayak.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Day of School

 First day of sixth grade
Middle School here he comes!

First Day of Third Grade
 Now she's the oldest at the elementary.

First Day of Kindergarten
He is so excited to join the big kids.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kayaking the Concord River

 Of all our adventures this summer, this one was probably the craziest. Two moms, eight kids, kayaking down the river. I learned a lot about how my kids work together. G-man and Kiwi struggled, so we did a switcheroo in the middle, and things went much smoother. I sure didn't have it as tough as Tara who couldn't keep the 12 month old sitting to save her life. It was so pretty. We loved watching the bugs and looking for turtles. At the end we attempted to catch some fish in a net. We didn't succeed, but we sure had fun trying.
The troops, pre-launch
 My crew for the first leg. I love my little blonde boys!
 Kiwi and G-man struggling. There was some crying. Someone wasn't too found of continually running into the riverbank. I think when two are trying to steer at the same time you end up going in circles. Or maybe when two are trying to paddle and no one is steering.
 My new crew waving to our partners.
 G did an awesome job getting that boat back to the dock. He's a pretty tough guy.
Our partners in crime attempting to keep from taking a dunk in the river.