Monday, April 25, 2011

Taylor's birthday and random updates

So I'm playing a little catch up and I'll post my Easter stuff on the Next post.

This week leading up to Easter was a special one. Jeff was speaking, Ashley had a talk and of course I was teaching my weekly Sunday School class so we were all mindful of the upcoming holiday. We spent the week studying each day of the last week of the savior's life (kind of puts it all into perspective) and about the atonement. I loved the opportunity to help Jeff find things to share about the atonement and it kept me more mindful of it the whole week as I was checking off my to-do list.

 I even bought Easter lily's this year and they smelled beautiful in the house until we delivered them one by one to visiting teaching and home teaching families and friends.

(I did keep one for us)

And in other random news.

I got a whole packet of multiple sheets of these pictures sent home to me for Ashley's "spring pictures" I don't know who picked this pose but I sure didn't. (I know they are blurry)

Despite the fact that I think it looks awkward that she's painting a black and white picture of herself who thinks that a bright red background with a bright red shirt is a good idea??

I went on-line and ordered some that actually had plants and flowers around her...much better.

This Wednesday Taylor had a birthday.

Our boy turned 15!!

I made him a favorite dinner and brownies instead of cake.

When he got home from school his stomach wasn't feeling good and Jeff was at a dinner appointment so we ended up eating a plan B dinner.

The afternoon was filled with dentist appointments and everyday stuff.

Taylor was the only one without can see how thrilled he was.

Despite all kinds of suggestions and offers and attempts to make plans we respected Taylor's decision to not have a party so we sang to him and ate brownies as a family. I did get him a couple of presents (in addition to a gym membership) and heart attacked his room so he did get some birthday recognition however.

Next year he will be drivers license age.


Jacob got an award for getting straight A's last semester. Yeah Jacob!

I am having the hardest time trying to teach the kids that this towel is not to be used for

cleaning off stage makeup...

cleaning off muddy cleats....

cleaning up anything except water...

and to not to wad this up in a heap after each use.

I agreed to bring a Quinoa salad (pronounced Keen-wa I found out) to our stake women's conference.

When I saw the 15 page blog post of the recipe I was supposed to follow along with very specific directions I have to admit I was quite intimidated.

After all I'm a bag of salad and some ranch kinda gal.

The week of the conference I had purchased my 25 or so ingredients that went into the salad (no joke) and was ready to start.

Jeff and I cut and diced and tried to follow the blog recipe to the T.

"Nope Jeff you can't quarter the radish slices because they are supposed to be whole"

(I didn't want my salad standing out as being done "wrong")

I have to admit the colors were striking and in the end it was a very good tasting salad.

Hmmmm I might just have to make some again sometime.

In the end I was glad for the push to do something different and learn something new.

I've had people having babies born galore in my life lately!!

I like to make baby blankets when I can so I've been working hard.

I think I've made 6 boy blankets and one girl blanket lately. Whew!

I was laying this out to cut the edges and Maddie thought it would be a good spot to lay down.
Don't worry, this was before I washed it...

I saw the gal I gave this to using it on Sunday. Thats always nice to see ;)

Grandma Nelson who was nice enough to come down all the way from Palmdale to see Jacob in his play tripped on our front door mat, fell down the steps and broke her elbow!

I moved the mat to the backyard to that wouldn't happen to anyone else.

She has been vindicated...

the dog destroyed the mat and it is now in the trash.

Last Sunday I brought Taylor to the stake Youth Conference fireside. 

While Jeff was at home trying to set up a prank to get me on video tape (see video on the next post)...

I was trying to keep Taylor focused on the fireside speakers.

He grabbed my pad of paper and insisted that he wanted to take notes.

When his "notes" consisted of drawing pictures of Tyler I took it away.

He then said he would be good and he really wanted to take notes...then he took some notes to show me he was being good.

Brother Plocker really did a good job speaking and Taylor liked his visuals...but it wasn't until I got home until saw the rest of his "notes"

These are just a few...

Brother Plocker talked about a Book of Mormon battle where the people that repented were strengthened from the Lord (the big buff guy) and they fought with cimeters (he thought it sounded like centaurs).

Guess which one is Taylor???

After a long day of church, firesides and such this is what I cleaned out of my purse the next morning.

I guess it wasn't my imagination that my purse becomes a trash receptical everytime we are out as a family.  :)


Here is my crazy husband trying to set up a prank that they can send to America's Funniest Videos.

I guess Jeff was targeting me. He stretched a bunch of saran wrap across the door and he was hoping that I would run into it. He pretended like he was fixing the TV and was trying to tell Jacob to have me run in to help because the TV was falling on Jeff.

They failed. Ha ha

They lost the element of surprise when they were trying to rush me in the house but they had the screen door locked...Taylor went in front of me and by the time I came in I watched Taylor duck under the saran wrap which was now obvious...

I still can't figure out how Taylor instinctively knew to duck under the saran wrap.

I guess they were disappointed because they had spent 2 hours setting this up and waiting for us.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Snowy Spring Break Surprise!!!

This spring break we planned to take a couple days to go to the Grand Canyon.
Jeff has never been and I have only seen it for 1/2 hour before my family set up camp for what would be our last camping trip of my childhood. Rain flushed us out in the early morning hours and I've never been back.

Soooo Jeff and I drove out mid afternoon on Thursday and after 6 1/2 hours of gusty desert driving on the 40 we made it to Williams, AZ. We went to bed that night with visions of scenic vistas, hikes and a vacation filled with appreciating natures beauty.

We woke up the next morning and our hearts sank as we listened to the weather report of 2 days solid of freezing temperatures and snow....lots of snow....8 to 12 inches of snow.

Come to find out neither Jeff and I had checked the weather!

We had both been so preoccupied with all the things that we were doing to get on the road we never thought to go beyond the assumption that Arizona in the middle of April would be pleasant weather!!

So now what are we going to do???!!!

As we were discussing what to do Ashley kept interupting us with her foggy window pictures...which reinforced this trip wasn't going to be what we planned.

Saturday was forcast to be much worse than Friday so what could we do but get out the door ASAP and see what we could of the Grand Canyon.

At this point we focused on just making the best of it and counting our blessings throughout...

We didn't bring our chains (never had a clue we would need them) but we were grateful that we had just got new tires the week before, and I had spend the day before at the dealership getting my car all checked out.

We didn't have snow clothes but I was so glad I insisted that we all had one pair of pants....and except for Ashley each of us had one pair of pants!

Our jackets were sweatshirts jackets...but at least we had jackets!

On the way out of the little town we found a family dollar store (but nothing much was a dollar). They were selling shorts and summer clothes.  Finally we found some left over hats and gloves, they were only for kids with comic book characters and princesses. We bought 2 pair of kids gloves and one hat. We ended up passing them around the whole trip! Ha ha.

At the entrance to Grand Canyon there was a sign taped up saying

"No Visibility...No Refunds" 

Hmmm not a good sign.

The upside was we didn't have to pay the $25.00 fee because of Jeff's handicap placard.

We ran from the car to the visitor's center so we could find out more about the Grand Canyon.

We heard from the Ranger tell about how it was formed...we learned about the layers of rock that made it up...

We snuggled for warmth ;)

Then we ventured outside to see what we could see...



This is our Christmas Card picture of the view of the Grand Canyon....

There really is a big hole down there kids....


You just can't see it!

Taylor was secretly scared that one of us was going to fall in. That and this sign made it a breeze to keep everyone on the paths.  It didn't help that in every gift shop and book store we went into there was a new book that they were selling telling about all the instances of people dying by falling in the Grand Canyon.

A nice bedtime story I'm sure.

This was one of the first hotels they built to ferry up all the vacation seekers back when they started tourism....we were told to eat lunch here because the food was fabulous.

But being afraid of the fabulous price tag we would find for a family of five...

..we decided to go with the family friendly bacon burgers and such.

Since we couldn't see the Grand Canyon we decided to learn everything we could about it and made stops in the shops and museums and studios along the rim.

This architect made this chimney as a replica of the types of rock that are in the Grand Canyon from the smooth river rocks at the bottom all the way up to the mesas on top.  

On the walk back to the car snow decorated Taylor's Jimmy Neutron hair.

Ashley would swipe every area of snow that was starting to build up (look at her right sleeve)

Notice also her princess hat turned backwards because she doesn't like princesses anymore ;)

Jacob was more stoic about the whole thing...but just wait after awhile he was slinging snowballs with the rest of them.

We hurried back to the car because the snow was picking up more and more.

On our way out of the Grand Canyon we stopped by the IMAX theater and at least watched a movie of what we couldn't see.

We decided to cancel our hotel in the Grand Canyon because we didn't want to get snowed in. The next day was supposed to be much worse so we stayed in small town Williams another night.

There was no regular stores, movie theaters and the only restaurant that wasn't a mom and pop was Dennys next door to us. So we ate dinner at Denny's and then took advantage of the indoor pool and spa at our hotel.

This was another thing I was glad that Jeff insisted we pack at the last minute. So we got to use our bathing suits...never knowing it would be to warm up after a day in the snow!

The kids loved the pool and I have to admit it was fun to go swimming with them in the middle of a huge snowstorm. The drifts were piling up on those windows in the back.

Jacob showing us his swimming skills.

The next morning we awoke to even more of a winter wonderland. The hotel had a continental breakfast along with hot biscuits and gravy.

We got to meet lots of other hotel guests at breakfast. A good number of them were from other countries, a lot from New Zealand. They were there the same time we were and then off to another destination. They didn't get to see anything either but it would be much harder for them to come back!

I was cracking up when one of them had to ask me what the butter and sour cream packets were and someone else asked me about the gravy for the biscuits...she thought it was porridge (oatmeal). I was glad she didn't ladle up a bowl and try and eat it with cream and sugar. She would've had a shock.

Yep about 12 inches I think.

(Ashley loved it and never complained about being cold once)

We had quite a time digging the car out.

The whole family ended up helping some way or another.

At this point Taylor said "This isn't fun anymore."

Ashley and Jacob disagree. They thought it was lots of fun.

They were having fun trying to build a fort, and throw snowballs at each other.

(Who needs gloves when your sleeves go past your hands ;)

At about noon after the roads cleared some, there was a short break in the weather so we decided to venture out and drive to our next hotel in Flagstaff.

We stopped here first to get some maps and info and find out a bit about what was in the area.

By this time the kids were getting pretty stir crazy and the boys were a little out of control.

While Jeff was talking to the worker getting maps and stuff the kids were messing around playing with the rain sticks, walking like old people with the canes while being glared at by old people and repeatedly thumping the bench that was off center.

And of course trying on and trying out everything else they could get their hands on.

We ended up driving up the hill to check out the observatory. It had a great view but the road was a little windy and it was starting to snow again and I didn't want to chance it.

The lady said "Oh yeah someone slid off the road yesterday"

"But they're OK"

(this didn't make me feel any better)

I figured the kids would rather see a movie than hang out at the observatory anyway.

So we took the kids to see Hop after eating a late lunch at Olive Garden. The movie was actually better than I thought it would be.

During the whole trip the kids could be seen throwing snowballs at each other. They were such a bad shot Jeff taunted the boys as he was taking this picture and they still couldn't hit him.

Ashley especially could drum up a snowball from the smallest pile to try and throw at her brothers, gloves or no gloves. If one child got upset because another was fixin to throw a snowball at them I just reminded them that they probably wouldn't hit them, which was true they had horrible aim but lots of fun trying.

(we were scared they were going to hit a car or someone passing by and get someone mad)

The next morning dawned with beautiful clear blue skys...and lots of snow.

We debated driving back up to the Grand Canyon just to look inside but it was going to add 2 hours to our 7 hour drive so we opted to head to Sedona instead.

There was a couple of lookout points at the top of the mountain pass as we were heading down that had a wonderful view of the canyon.

It was just beautiful and we could see rivers flowing in the distance.

Thats the road we were going to drive down.

The drive was full of beautiful snowcovered trees sloped over the highway.

Then at the bottom we started seeing the red rocks that we saw in is Slide Rock Park.

and finally Sedona.

Our trip to the visitor's center gave us the tip to go up airport road and there we saw the most incredible view of the city of Sedona with the mountains in the distance. 

In the parking lot we changed into the rest of our church clothes as we watched the asain tourists in the distance taking photos.

Though they weren't taking photos of the view. They were taking photos of themselves in front of the bus they came on. We laughed as we drove away and they were taking pictures of the bus driver while hugging him.

The ward in Sedona was a small but mighty one. The little chapel was filled but we were told 1/2 of them were visitors.

We were greeted warmly by a number of people even though we were just visitors ourselves. I was amazed at how friendly they were and they even got Taylor to help pass the sacrament. It was fast Sunday and they invited visitors to bear their testimony. I considered it a couple of times but there ended up not being any time. A steady stream of wonderful testimonies given by their ward members took all the time they had and more. It was nice to see that what they might have lacked in numbers they more than made up for in spirit.

After church we changed into traveling clothes. The boys couldn't wait to get out of pants. Who knew that 50's would be shorts weather.

We stopped at this turn out to let the kids walk up some rocks that we saw people hiking on.

It was strange to me to see the snow sitting in the middle of cactus plants and desert brush.

Jeff and I helped Ashley climb up to the top.

(I loved looking at the steam coming off the ground in the background)

Jacob was proud that he climbed it himself.

We walked around downtown Sedona for a bit. Looked at the dirt shirts, candy stores and grabbed some lunch at this barbeque place before we hit the road for the long drive home.

I don't know if you can see it very well but the small cluster of rocks to the right are Snoopy rock. They look like Snoopy laying on his back....we'll it's easier to see when your standing in front of it :)

This was a famous church we saw on the postcards that we saw on our way out of town.

After 7 hours of driving including accidents (not ours), road closures and big rig trucks getting in everyone's way we were finally home.

Our prayer at the beginning of the trip was that this trip would bring us closer together as a family and looking back it definately did, just not in the ways that we imagined when we set out.

Here is the canyon we didn't get to see...

The waterfalls we didn't get to see...

the river rafting trip we couldn't go on.

So I was grateful for a little bit of time to help us reconnect when day to day life makes is feel so disconnected.

I was thinking isn't that how life is. How many times is the journey not what we planned or expected or perhaps even wanted. But, when we try to have a good attitude and have faith it can be better than we imagined and take us places we might not have ever gotten to on our own.