Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Kiss Tonight

As midnight on the last day of 2013 approaches, I find myself in bed, with a household of sick children, and an almost snoring sick spouse.  Nothing major, just colds, but a cold isn't a welcome guest.  A pal had us over, but we barely made it past 10pm (her desserts were amazing though, and should be noted and applauded.) So basically, no one near me will be awake to celebrate the death of 2013, and the promise of 2014.  This year (and it will be 2013 for about 3 more minutes) has been one of learning and adventure, travel, cooking, homework, callings, running, touristing, and praying... a whole lot of praying.  So I guess that fact alone should help me to classify 2013 as a "good year." It seems very 2013 that I won't get my midnight smooch, but the year is dying, let it die.  Now onto 2014.  I'm planning that this year I will be/do/see/feel/taste/hold/experience something extraordinary. I don't think that's too much to expect.

On our drive back to utah we stopped by the Saint George Temple.  I love visiting temples.  They are beautiful, clean, and I can feel the sweet peace of the Holy Ghost while I'm there.

Lunch at a rubbish diner in St. George.  I can't remember the name of the place, but I really wouldn't recommend it.

A before shot.  We don't know that our food won't taste very good yet.  I did the think the staff were very polite and friendly, so that's good.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Calvin turns 12!

Back to Vegas today.  I know that an 8 hour car ride is not the way that Calvin would choose to spend his twelfth birthday, but we had a few fun stops along the way.  We visited my mom at work on our way out of town, so that Preston could get his teeth checked (no braces!) Then we met Grandma Linda, and Ashley, Collin and Nolan Smith.  We haven't seen them in way too long and they were kind enough to meet us at Ikea on our drive to Ikea.  Three cheers for meatballs and lingonberry juice. The day's end is coming to a close in a Marriott. In conclusion, Calvin Rider Holman Smith was born 12 short years ago in Tucson, Arizona.  It was a Sunday, and his hair was literally parted, as if he were doing his best to be ready for church.  He has been a straight arrow ever since.  He is kind, considerate, diligent, faithful, honest, grateful, hard-working, intelligent and an amazing brother and son.  I thank heaven that I get to be his mom.  12 years with him makes me feel like such a lucky duck. I can't wait to see what the next 12 bring.  I love you Calvin!!!!

Calvin opted for the chicken strips, fries, and chocolate cake.

Ashley, my sister in law, posing with me.  Aren't we adorable!?!

In fornt of Ikea.  The sun is blinding all of us, and I just love the yellow wall.

To the West of Ikeas family parking there are two grassy areas.  The one in back is real grass, the one in front is fake.  What's the story behind this? Why not both fake, or both real? Was one real and then something happened, or vice versa? This just seemed odd to me... so I photographed it.

Grandma Linda and Calvin, opening a gift on the side of the car.
He now owns two new white shirts and ties, which will come in handy when he starts passing the sacrament as a newly ordained Deacon.  We're all very excited for this next step.

This hotel has complimentary cocoa, and not just in the morning!!!
Annie and Calvin taking advantage in the lobby.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

All you Can Eat Buffet

So, I've been in Arizona for about 10 days. I've loved almost every minute of it.  I simply love being close to my immediate childhood family.  We leave tomorrow and I think that now I'm supposed to feel ready to go home, to get back into the swing of things, to sleep in my own bed (blah, blah, blah.) In truth, I do like my house, and I miss my friends and ward, my neighborhood, and I like my pillow, but I'm already planning my next visit to see these people.  Trips back home aren't like filling a box with granola bars, where I go to AZ to get them, bring them back, and then eat them when I miss family and feel lonely for them.  No, these trips are more like visits to an all-you-can-eat-buffett.  I pig out, I'm full, stuffed in fact, but by the time I get home to UT, I am still hungry.  I do like Skype, and phone calls, and email, but they are just shadows of the real deal.  Living in town, when you can hug your loved ones, laugh with them and play games, go home when you're tired, but still make plans for the park in a few days.  I live far away from my twin, and my sister and brother and parents, and in-laws and nieces and nephews, and I hate that.  Not much else to say.

I saw this at church today, in the attendance folder for my twin's primary class.  It amused me, and I think it's a great idea.

Hanging out with the family, playing cards.  I highly recommend the game of "PIT."

The Last Saturday of 2013

Today was an action packed Saturday.  It began with the finishing of A Captain America shield (ten points to Ryan for making that wish come true.) What followed was the annual Howe family 5K (the Howe family is the family that my twin married into.  We are lucky that they like us enough to have us participate.) It was ugly (for me.) For starters, I have run a marathon before.  I used to run cross country in high school, but fast forward close to twenty years, and I typically run about a mile and half, maybe twice a week.  Annie actually got third, Lesley came in fourth, Ryan placed fifth, and I came in a not so close 6th.  Good times.  I'm going to be crazy sore tomorrow.  My brother and his wife returned to town tonight after spending Christmas with her family, and we got to play all afternoon with them.  I only wish my sister Hillary and her family were here to join us.  If wishes were fishes...

Calvin. Ryan. Captain America Shield.

The Starting line.  We ran through Lesley's neighborhood.  

Bella Howe (my niece on the left) and her cousin decided to wear costumes during the 5K and did several costume changes during the race.  How weird! What fun!

My brother and his kids, enjoying the fashion show planned by Bella.  It was lovely.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reid Park Zoo

No real trip to Tucson is complete without a walk through the Reid Park zoo. I remember coming to this wonderful zoo when I was 5 for my own birthday party, and taking Preston and Calvin here when they were just little, before we moved away from Arizona.  I love the animals, the desert, the company. Annie and Simon were only lost for about 20 minutes. Three cheers for prayers answered and a zoo that wasn't as busy as it could have been.

Ryan holding two of the zoo animals.

Cousins on a rock.  We always climb on this rock.

The fountian at the park next to the zoo, where we went for a picnic.  Doesn't it look lovely and California-ish?

Calvin wanted Ryan to help him make a Captain America shield for his birthday (in 3 days.) I love to see them working together. I love to see Ryan stick out his tongue in concentration.  Duct Tape is serious business.

Tonight the adults went to the Triple T for dinner.  Diner Dream.

Mom and Les, full after their fish and chips and french dip and fries.  Ryan ordered a salad, which doesn't surprise me at all.

I didn't get to meet the chef, but this sign says it all.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day!

Today is boxing day, or the day that is celebrated in Canada/UK where they box up all of their old stuff and give it to their servants.  We don't have any servants (yet) so we didn't participate in that tradition, but we did go get some Eegee's, go for a hike in Sabino Canyon, and celebrate the 11th birthday of my niece. 11 trips around the sun for Olivia Jane Howe, well done you.

Annie getting her hair and make-up done by her Nana.  That girl won't let me touch her hair!

One of the best restaurants in Tucson! They sell slushies, like slurpees only better.

Our end stop of our Sabino Canyon hike.  The temp was 67 degrees (F).  Holy cow, it was wonderful!!!!

Calvin chillin on a rock!

This sign is so hysterical.  Watch out for all this stuff... but enjoy your walk!

Cupcakes for the birthday. Good times!

Merry Christmas AZ

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Joy To The World! Hark The Herald!  It Came Upon A Midnight Clear!

Early morning with just our immediate family.

Grandma Linda made the boys ninja turtle pillows. So much fun!

On to Grandpa Tom (Ran's Grandpa) for family, gifts and ham with rolls.

Ryan and Grandpa Tom. Two good men.

Our annual Christmas car wash.

Down to Tucson.  My parents making punch, which Ryan calls "Rocket Fuel." It's deliciously strong, yet surprisingly non-alcoholic.

Christmas bingo.  I didn't win, but sure had fun!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve at the Smiths

Our day in pictures.

The kids decided it was so warm here in AZ that they should go swimming.  The water was still freezing cold, they lasted for 5 minutes tops, but had a great time anyway.

If swimming is out, we can still sun tan!  Preston is spraying sunscreen on Owen.

Grandpa read How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  I love that book, the cartoon, but not the Jim Carey Movie. It was loads of fun.

The kids acted out the nativity. Preston was a camel. Jade was a shephard, Calvin was a sheep, Simon was Joseph, Annie was Mary, and Owen was a king.

The Christmas pajama stack.

Christmas PJ's.  I made the kids red pajama bottoms.  I surprised the family with authentic Scottish caps that I purchased in Scotland, and reserved for this very night.  The kids hats were plaid, Ryan's is the Loch ness monster, and I'm wearing the Highland Cow hat.  Don't we scream "Merry Christmas"!?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Adam

If tomorrow is Christmas Eve, Preston told me that today is Christmas Adam.  I'm sure this is a joke that has been told for like the last 200 years, but today was the first time I've ever heard it.  And I thought it was totally hilarious.  On today's Christmas vaca agenda:  a morning jog with my sister in law Shelly, hang out with nieces and nephews at the Dustin Smith's house, last minute Christmas shopping, and a drive by the Mesa temple to check out the Christmas lights.  Ryan got some work done, and also threw out his back by "sitting funny for too long." What the heck does that mean?  I'm done with boring explanations.  Tell me about the small child you saw toddling into the street, where you had to leap over a lawn mower and dive under a fence to bound into the street to stop the car that was headed straight at the wee bairn... Sitting funny. Lame.

Dustin and Kylee decided that a regular staircase was boring, so they put in a slide.  An actual slide.  The kids totally loved playing on it all morning.

Annie coming down the slide.  It's very fast!

A little family basketball before headed off to dinner and the Mesa temple.

Ryan took us to Pizza Mart, an old high school favorite.  Low quality cheap pizza, with root beer and vanilla ice-cream cones. So we all loved it, and felt right at home.

Owen fell asleep right after dinner.  It looks so uncomfortable with the shoulder strap across his face.  My favorite part is the ice-cream cone face down, totally melted on the seat. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wright Family Christmas Party

Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews, and Grandpa Tom (93 years old!),  50+ party animals, Mexican food, terrible talent show (so bad it's... bad, but fun!) Singing, and merriment.  I totally love Ryan's extended family.  I remember the first Wright family party that I went to over 15 years ago.  By the time the night was over, I knew that this was I family I would enjoy for eternity.

Owen, getting ready for our performance.  I think he's stretching?

Santa always brings a little treat to the kids.  Slinkies, whistles and pens. Small prizes, much appreciated and enjoyed.

Ryan, Grandpa Tom (his mom's father) and me.  
What a good looking group.

Leaving Las Vegas!

SO basically, hotels are rad.  You show up and they're clean.  They have loads of tv channels (which we are too cheap to pay for at home.) We like to swim and hang out in the hot tub (no bubbles for Calvin, but bubbles for everyone else) and the pre-made-somewhat average-all you can eat-loads of options for breakfast- can't be beat.

Party in the hotel!

Calvin pigging out at the buffet!

Annie seizing the opportunity to swim. The pool was heated, the sun was shining, and it's about 30 degrees warmer than Utah.

Look at how happy and optimistic we are!  It hasn't yet sunk in that we have another 7 hours to go till we finally get to Grandma's in Mesa, Az.

We stopped at Hoover Dam on the way.  I just kept thinking of this quote from the timeless, classic movie Madagascar:
Skipper: "Hoover Dam! We're still in New York. Abort. Dive, dive, dive!"

Preston, Annie and Jade posing at the Hoover Dam monument.  I like Annie's pose the best.

Preston planking at Hoover Dam.  How many people can say they've done that? Not enough.

*** This post is for Saturday, December 21st, 2014, Which was started in Las Vegas, NV and ended in Mesa, AZ.