Sunday, November 20, 2011

Since most of the country thinks that summer ends with August, I will gladly play along, and only wish that that was the case in Arizona. Usually, summer ends by the beginning of November and we can finally turn off the AC.

Over Labor Day weekend, Lonica and family talked us all into a camping trip up north and out of the heat. We have come to avoid traveling on long weekends because the traffic in and out of Phoenix is so awful. We decided to brave the potential lines of cars just to have a little reprieve from the heat. (August had been the hottest on record.)
We found a great little spot and set up camp. We all loved just sitting around and eating and reading. I think Raquel was the only one who wanted some more action.

We had fun building campfires, roasting marshmallows, getting dirty, and playing with Amelia and Millie.

After one night of babies crying in stereo in the middle of the night, Raquel and Dave packed up and headed home. The rest of us toughed it out and had a much better night the second night. The weather was perfect and even the traffic wasn't bad getting home. We will definitely try it again over a long weekend.

The end of September my mom came to stay. It was the first time she had meet Amelia and Millie. Those two darling girls quite captured Grandam Joan's heart. She taught Amelia how to play "two little birdies" and Amelia was fascinated that the birdies would hide in her ear or on her bow or in her mouth. Sorry the picture is so blurry - none of them turned out.

We had to take some four generation shots. Don't we have some beautiful women in our family?

I think my mom was tickled with her trip, at least we hope so, so she will come back again soon.

We had to throw a little dancing into the mix as well.

Over October break Garth and I took sometime and went to Winslow. Yes, I know not a travel destination high most people's list, but it should be. There is an old 1930's hotel that is slowly being restored and it is will worth the trip.

La Posada was built by the Santa Fe railroad and opened just when the Great Depression hit. It was designed by Mary Colter and is a beautiful old hotel. It was closed in the 50's and the railroad used it as offices and destroyed some unique features.

In the late 90's a couple purchased the hotel and began restoring it. Garth and I's room was recently completed, but the wing our room was in is still under construction. They have a famous restaurant that has wonderful food and a man playing an acoustic guitar the echos through the Spanish styled halls. We watched the train pull up and people get off to spend the night, just like they did 60 years ago in the hotel's hayday.

The couple live in the hotel and the wife has an art studio there as well. One of the big halls is her gallery and to say her art is very interesting is an understatement. She has had showings of it in the Smithsonian and some of it is still there. In this picture, she has a self portrait next to Gaddafi and Hussein.

We headed to St. Johns and I talked Garth into going by the petrified forest since I'd never been there.

It really was quite amazing to see the huge trees that had completely turned to stone, and now were so beautiful.

This tree, in the picture below, was actually a bridge. Due to some careful photography angles, you can't see the cement that now supports the bridge. It wasn't always like this though. The history of the petrified forest tells that just 70 years ago there were many more trees, but due to souvenir hunters much has been destroyed.

I really got a kick out of the stories and letters that were told and displayed at the visitor's center. I guess there is a curse on anyone taking petrified wood from the National Park, and there were numerous letters from people returning the rocks they had taken hoping the curse would be lifted, and their lives could return to normal. Needless to say, I didn't take any rocks.

Two weeks later it was Halloween and our family had one little Curious George monkey who had to carry her tail ,

and one little strawberry who never pulled her hat off.

Both of them came over to our house to go trick-or-treating around our neighborhood. Here is Curious George with the Man in the Yellow hat.

Here you can see our little trick-or-treaters along with my new front door that hasn't been stained yet.

It didn't take Amelia long to figure out that at each door people were giving her candy. Millie had just started to walk the week before and she would slowly teeter up to the door. Amelia was much quicker and would have grabbed a handful of candy for herself and then grabbed another handful for Millie. Amelia would proceed to dump the candy in Millie bag and knocker her off balance with the weight. It was quite the sight!

At every house we got quite the comments on how cute they were, but how could we not - just look at those darling girls. No one cared that Amelia had taken half their candy.

Two weeks later it was Millie's first birthday. Yes, she was one on 11-11-11! Her master cake decorator mother, made her this birthday cake that looked just like her favorite taggy blanket. You can see part of the blanket at the bottom of the photo.

Raquel had a dinner at their house and then we had cake and ice cream. Millie was excited to eat her cake until she tasted the fondant icing that it was made with!

She also had some little helpers to open her gifts.

It is so hard to believe that she is already one. The time goes so fast!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wrap up of the summer that ended months ago

It is now November and I thought I really should wrap up our summer because it was very eventual, and I know that in the blink of an eye it will be Christmas and this year will be over. So this week I will quickly update you on our summer and hopefully next week I will update you on our fall.

The month of June was spent mostly in classes for me. Garth and I did have a quick trip to Las Vegas to see Garth's cousin's daughter get married. It was fun to ride with Paul and Lee and we got to go over the new bridge bypassing Hoover Dam.

I also had a quick trip down Havasupi once again. Here is the twin sisters rock formation that towers above the village and serves as the Supi tribe symbol.

I went with a teacher from school and her sister. Neither of them had ever backpacked before and they both did great carrying their packs down and up.
And here is a look at one of the new falls -the new Navajo Falls, but they aren't officially named that yet. The Elders of the tribe have to vote on the new name and they haven't had time in the last three years since they were formed. They are the absolute best to jump off of.

We had lots of time to swim this summer and it was especially fun to have Amelia and Millie come over to swim. They both loved the water and the pool.

It was great having Lonica and Scott back. They waited all summer to close on the house they made an offer on in May. They actually got the keys last week on November 1!

For the Forth of July we decided to head out-of-town and the heat of the valley and spend the day up on the rim north of Strawberry. Paul and Lee came with us and we had a great time just relaxing and eating.

Things did get a little wild, as usually happens at Drain parties, and Jason thought he could wear Amelia's sunglasses.

Then Paul thought he could wear Millie's hat. As Amelia would say siwee (silly).

A couple of days later the boys and Garth and I flew to Hawaii for a week. We spent a few days in Honolulu checking out Pearl Harbor, Wikiki, Hanauma Bay and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Then we headed to Maui for four days. Our second day there we headed up to the top of the dormant volcano, Haleakala, and road our bikes down 29 switch backs from about 10,000 feet. It was the easiest bike ride ever - hardly any pedaling! You just had to keep from going too fast.

The rest of the week was spent snorkeling, lounging by the beach, looking for good places to eat and driving the very memorable road to Hana. There is a narrow windy road that leads to Hana on the south end of the island. All along the road are waterfalls, spectacular views of the ocean including black sand beaches, fruit stands where wonderful fresh smoothies are made and we ended up at Wai'anapanapa State Park that had this amazing volcanic beach. We gawked at the force of the ocean on the rocks and I knew it would be certain death for me if I fell in.

Preston thought in every picture we took he needed to give the hang loose sign and stick out his tongue. I hope some day he will grow up.

The boys took surfing lessons one day and they both did pretty well for the first time. Unfortunately, they both got really sunburned on the backs of their legs while they were laying on their boards waiting to catch a wave. Here is Preston.

A couple of days after we got home from Hawaii I had surgery on my foot which incapacitated me for the rest of the summer. After spending a week in a chair with my foot elevated and working on vocabulary tests for the fall semester, I decided to tackle the job of refinishing Garth's grandmother's Victrola. Paul had given it to us years ago and it took us about 3 years to pick it up out of his garage. It then sat in our garage for about 8 months. It was really dirty and the finish was in bad shape, but it still worked and came with lots of records.

After about a week of stripping, sanding, staining and varnishing, we made a new home for it in our living room. We've had great fun showing it off and dancing with granddaughters to it. Come by and check it out.

But the biggest event of the summer came on August 22 when Preston gave his farewell talk before he headed to MTC and then on to Brisbane, Australia. He had lots of support from family and friends. Here are those that gathered with us for brunch after church.

Tuesday night Pres. Ahlstrom (our stake president) came to set Preston apart and give him a blessing. He did a wonderful job and we are all interested in seeing how the promises in his blessing are fulfilled.

Here is our missionary son. For years I knew the day would come when my older kids would leave home, but the one I never planned or prepared to leave was Preston. It has been a big adjustment, one I'm still not sure I want to make. Preston has been my pal for years - going hiking and camping with me, playing in Europe with me, helping fix my computer or set up my classroom, he talked to me while we worked at our computers each night and listened (at least I thought he listened) to me drone on and on about whatever I had on my mind.

While I know there is no other place I would rather have him be right now, it is still hard to have him gone. I live for his letters each week, just like I did for Jason's, but this time I don't have someone sitting next to me while I read it to them. I'm thrilled that he is so happy and growing and learning while having the opportunity to live in Australia.

He left for Salt Lake early on August 25, so Garth and I were the only ones who got up to take him to the airport. One of his friends from our ward was on his way to the MTC too and was on Preston's flight, so they left together

The last event of the summer was having Amelia's second bithday on the 29th of the month. She was so excited about the balloons, presents and cake. But she loves everything. It looks like Christmas with that stack of presents for her.

She was thrilled with every present she opened. Millie didn't really understand what was happening, but she wanted to be close to he action.

Lonica and Scott had been working with Amelia to teach her how to blow out the candles, but she couldn't quite do it. Luckily mom was right there to get them out.

Once again, the summer flew by, yet the heat lingered forever it seemed! I guess that is what you get when you live in the desert.