Sunday, October 2, 2011

Softball in Cottonwood

Last weekend, Rob played in a softball tournament in Cottonwood, so the kids and I tagged along. I spent a lot of time in the Verde Valley when I was a kid, but I haven't been there in years, so it was fun to go back. Plus, the weather was much nicer then Phoenix!

Robbie made friends with this little boy right away. We have no idea what his name is. But that's how kids make friends - they just play and have fun. These little guys ran around with sticks as lightsabers, shared candy, colored, played with trucks... they kept busy!

This was an all-day tournament, so we had lots of time to explore. The park was right next to the Verde River, so the kids and I went for a few walks along the banks. It was really pretty.

Erin got to play a little bit of catch between games. Here she is with Rob on one of the fields. You can see the town of Jerome on the hills in the background.

It felt good to be outside all day! There was a breeze and it was overcast off and on, and it was just really nice out. The kids took full advantage. There was a playground, plenty of room to run around, june bugs to check out, dirt to play in...

We had a little down time thanks to electronics. I did finally figure out how to French braid Erin's hair, so that was an accomplishment. I've tried before with disasterous results - much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and Erin didn't enjoy it either). But I can cross that off my list now.

Toward the end of the day, we were all getting pretty tired - and we weren't the ones running around playing softball! The team Rob played on hit lots of home runs, and in te last couple of games, we learned that if kids bring a home run ball in to the scoring table, they get a Tootsie Pop! This brought a new level of excitement. I'm not sure how many home run balls they got all together, but we had plenty of Tootsie Pops that afternoon!

Rob's team was undefeated and they won the tournament. Rob didn't hit as well as he would've liked, but he made some good plays and it was a good day.

We drove up to Jerome afterward, just to take a look around. We didn't really stay, since it was Saturday night and the hipster artsy scene was making it a little crowded. The kids were impressed with the roads and the precarious houses on stilts.

We were amused that Cottonwood has a Sizzler, so we ate there for the novelty of it. And no, it hasn't improved since the last time I ate at one 15-20 years ago. But at that point we were all starving, and mediocre was pretty good. Top that off with a dessert bar and things were great!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fourth Grade & Kindergarten

School started on Tuesday!

This one was very excited to start kindergarten!

This one feels like a pretty big kid because she's halfway through elementary school!

Robbie wasn't sad in this picture - he was head-over-heels elated all day, but the sun was too bright for him. It's the only close-up picture I got, though.

Robbie and I hung out til the bell rang, and then he ran to get in line. They went straight to their "Monday morning assembly" (which was held on Tuesday this week) for the pledge and the national anthem. Since Robbie was first in line, he got to hold Mrs. Jones's hand. She is such a good teacher! She was Erin's kindergarten teacher and we like her so much we requested her for Robbie.

After the assembly, they got in line again outside their classroom...

...And went to class!

I only got a little choked up and was able to hold myself together! Both kids had a good day at school, and that night Robbie told us, "I can't wait for school tomorrow!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Other stuff we did in July

Bleached stars on some shirts for the kids for 4th of July and spent the day at my parents' house swimming and eating and visiting with them, my sister, and one of my brothers and his family.

I made freezer paper stencils like the ones here - they're kind of fun!

Every July, Chik-Fil-A has "Cow Appreciation Day". If you dress up like a cow, you get a free meal! Even if you just wear one cow item, you at least get a free entree. We've gone the last few years, and it's worth looking ridiculous for an hour or so. I should have taken a picture of our tails. Next year I think we'll wear white shirts. If you've never done it, you should next year!

Our second camping trip was also nice. We weren't sure we were going because the whole state was under fire restrictions due to all the forest fires. But two days before we were hoping to go, they lifted the restrictions.

The lake was a little warmer than it was in June. We like to hike down to one of the legs of the lake, where it's pretty narrow and there are fewer people. We liked this family of ducks:

Last time, Robbie found a caterpillar that he played with for a while. This time while we were setting up, he found a buttterfly and was SURE it was his caterpillar. "Mom, my caterpillar turned into a butterfly!"

There were lots of butterflies, and he kept thinking it was all the same one. He named it Pickles. No matter where we were, Pickles showed up (he didn't know there were hundreds of Pickles look-alikes all over the campground). They were very friendly. Erin got them to land on her hands several times - never when my camera was handy, though. Here is Pickles sitting on Robbie's lap while he ate a Pop Tart.

We've had a good summer! Only two weeks til school starts. I'm not super-thrilled about homework and busy weeknights, but I'll be kind of glad to get back into more of a routine/schedule.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Erin's 9th Birthday

Erin turned 9 last week! These kids are growing up!

We kept it low-key like we did for Robbie's birthday. She got to invite two friends to Big Surf. We had lunch at Red Robin and then stopped at home to change before picking up the other girls. Of course Erin got a birthday sundae and an embarrassing song at Red Robin!

I didn't want to deal with my camera at the water park, so the only picture I got of Erin and her friends was in the car on the way over. Erin has been friends with these lovely twins for as long as they could all talk. And boy can they talk - these three are little chatterboxes! Robbie had to get in on the action - or he tried, anyway... their chatting skills are superhuman.

(As a side note, Robbie may or may not have a little crush on one of the girls - the suspicion has yet to be confirmed)

Big Surf isn't a huge waterparks, so we spent four hours there and had time to do everything a few times. We even ran into a couple of girls from church, so they all played together for a while in the wave pool.

After we got home, Erin opened her presents and got to play with all her new stuff.

We're so lucky to have Erin in our family! She's a good example to her little brother and to her mom and dad. She's very smart, and she's a nice kid. It's a little hard to belive she'll be starting fourth grade in just a couple of weeks.

We love you, Erin!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Robbie's 5th Birthday

Robbie turned 5 yesterday! FIVE, people.

Instead of a friend party, he got to invite two friends to see Cars 2 on Saturday. We went to an early show and the kids had a nutritious breakfast of popcorn, fruit snacks, and Sprite. He was SO excited to go with his friends, and he had a great time!

Later that day, we went to Baskin Robbins for his free scoop of ice cream and Barnes & Noble for his free cookie. Before dinner, even. We live on the edge.

Yesterday after church, most of the family came over.

L-R behind Robbie: My parents, Briana, Dan, Rob, Ayla, Sandy, Brigette, Steven, Kristil, and Erin on the floor.

Reycle bin ready for action!

He was VERY excited about his presents! Except the clothes. He hardly glanced at those as he moved them out of the way of his loot. Not sure he even looked directly at them.

He got plenty of Cars stuff, Legos, trucks and trailers, Hot Wheels tracks...

And then we sent him to the garage to find his new bike! He was really happy about that.

I'm hoping to get him on the bike tonight and see if we can't skip the training wheel stage all together. I'll take some pictures if we're not at the hospital.

Next, we had cake! He wanted a Superman cake, so I made him a SuperRobbie cake. We all had blue lips.
He was smart and didn't tell anyone his wish. He got some money in a couple of cards, so later that night I was trying to help him figure out what he wanted to buy. I asked him if he got everything he wanted, and his answer was an emphatic, "YEAH!" That was good to hear. And yes, he even likes the clothes. He checked those out after all the toys were put away. He had a fun day.

We love Robbie and we're very thankful to have him in our family!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spring 2011 - Photo Goulash

Well, spring did happen - I just failed to blog about anything for months! Here are a few photos taken during my unplanned hiatus.

The kids and I rode the light rail to the Aloha Festival again this year. We started at the park & ride on Central & Camelback, which is right across the street from Smeeks - so of course we had to go buy candy and weird stuff! That's a great store.

Riding the train home that night - some drunk ASU boys were chatting the kids up, and it was kind of funny because the kids had no idea they were drunk. After they got off the train... "Those guys were really nice!" And they were - it was amusing to watch the whole interaction.

Erin is starting to feel the wrath of her parents' genes. She got glasses in March. She only has to wear them to see the board in class, and sometimes she wears them to watch TV, but I'm sure it won't be long before she has to wear them all the time, like her mom & dad. She's OK with it.

Around the same time, the dentist put a palate expander on her teeth. We know she'll need braces in a year or two after all her baby teeth are out. After her palate is expanded, there will be more room for the orthodontist to work with, and it should make the braces less extensive. Her teeth have already separated and look quite a bit different. Pending orthodontia: another gift from her parents' genes.

In May, Rob and Robbie went to our ward's Father & Son's campout. They had a good time. It was on a ranch, and there were herds of deer close to where they camped. There were also puppies, which were a big hit!

Robbie really liked going camping with Dad; he felt like a big kid. He called me from the road after they left. He said he was holding the map and he was the gavinator.

"The what?"

"The gavinator! I'm showing Dad where to turn."

Here he is with one of the puppies.

Erin finished up 3rd Grade, and got to go to Honors Night for Prinicpal's Honor Roll again. Here she is with her teacher and her trophy. She's a smart girl.

It's hard to believe we're halfway through the summer! Not sure if we'll get to go camping again in July, since a good portion of the state is on fire. Let's hope for some rain between now and then!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Camping - June 2011

We're back from our first camping trip of the summer! We went to Knoll Lake, as usual.

Rob's sister Brigette and her family came with us - except for Rett; he had to work. Erin and Robbie really liked having their cousins there to play with! The weather was great, and it was a nice, smooth week.

Walking to the lake

There are two ways to walk to the lake - one is on a nice little trail, and the way we usually go is straight down a ravine at a 45-degree angle. The kids all did great on the hikes and nobody complained.

Cousins on a log - Ayla, Erin, Briana, and Robbie

The kids did all kinds of stuff to entertain themselves. They explored the dry creek and played on the "tree bridge" (just a log that fell over the creek bed), played tag, colored, read, made sharp sticks... all the important things you do when you're camping.

Brigette and Steven at the lake

Robbie at the lake - always holding a stick!

We got a good campsite that had three tables. It was quieter this time than the last couple of years, and we were camped next to a group of boy scouts who were very well-behaved.

Our campsite - the grills, fire ring & screen rooms

Looking the other direction at the screen rooms, plus the kids' tents.

I didn't get a shot of Brigette & Steven's tent.

Our tent - You can fit two queen-size matresses in there and still have room to walk around!

Ayla and Robbie in the lake - MIND-NUMBINGLY COLD WATER!

This is where we jump off the rocks. It's a long swim across the lake to the rocks, so this time we brought two kickboards so it would be easier for the kids to get across. Rob would go with them and hang out at the bottom. He would toss kickboards to the kids after they jumped in so they didn't have to swim as much.

Robbie wanted nothing to do with it, but the other kids jumped several times. So did Rob and Brigette. Steven stayed on shore and took pictures, and I was too cold by the time I swam over there; maybe it will be better in July.

Erin on the rock, Ayla in the water

Coloring in the screen room - Erin, Ayla, Robbie, Briana

On the way home - looking off the Mogollon Rim

Rob's truck hit a milestone on the way home - 100,000 miles! (No, he didn't take the photo at 70 mph, that was me... leaning over him while he drove - maybe that's safer?)

Rob and some of the kids saw some deer on one of our hikes to the lake, and Robbie and I saw a big fluffy-tailed squirrel. We watched big birds swooping down and snatching fish right out of the lake - that was something new.

It was nice to have Brigette & Steven and the kids with us, and we couldn't have asked for nicer weather! Our family will go again in a few weeks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Hike

This week is Erin's Spring Break. Rob and I were both able to take today off, so we had a nice day together as a family! We hiked up Camelback Mountain this morning. I hadn't done it for maybe 10 years, and I've been wanting Rob and the kids to go.

I guess this post is more for people who haven't hiked it, so you can see what it's like up there. The hike up Echo Canyon to the top of the camel's back is only a little over a mile, but it's tough. There are several places where you just have to tackle it hand & foot because you're just scramling over boulders.

You start out going up railroad tie steps for the first 1/4 of the hike, and then it gets steep. It pretty much stays steep after that. The fence below is to keep people from wandering down the mountain to the ultra-wealthy homes below, and to catch those who might slip and fall onto the ultra-wealthy homes below. You can see a handrail in the picture below. There are two spots with handrails.

Going up one of the less-steep handrail spots:

This cliff sort of looms over the trail after the handrail - probably over 100 feet high? The picture doesn't do it justice, so I took one on the way down of the same area.

I put a blue circle in this picture to show where we were when we took Erin's picture... a little better perspective.

This is near the top. Another blue circle around some people to give perspective:
At the top! So I'm the one who thought the hike was such a great idea, and I was the slowest one. I'm in much worse physical shape than the last time I did this!
We remembered to bring binoculars this time, so we got to check out the view for a little bit while we rested. I bought a hydration pack last night, and it was a good investment. Lugging water bottles up there would have stunk!
Erin on the way down. Downtown is on either side of her, right about armpit level. (No offense, downtown) The Estrella mountains are at her shoulder, and 44th Street is coming out behind her calf.
Robbie did great going up, but he was a little nervous going down. It's easier to slip on the way down. Rob hiked with him the whole way down and helped him when he got nervous. He was the littlest kid up there, except for a baby in a backpack carrier.
Here's a picture on the way down, looking at the camel's head.
We only had one minor casualty, and it was just a grand re-opening of a previous scrape. (I think she was a little proud of the blood trail, because several people commented on it on their way past)

We took our sweet time, going slow with plenty of rests, and it took 3 1/2 hours. We'll do it again sometime, but not soon. I'll be feeling this tomorrow!
I'm proud of the kids. They're good little hikers, and this was the toughest one yet. Nobody complained - a little nervousness in spots for Robbie, but they did it whine-free.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!