Friday, October 29, 2010

Snowbowl Hike

What better thing to do on a Sunday afternoon than to go for a nice little hike in the mountains? When you have two wild little boys with plenty of energy, lounging around at home is not an option.

So off we went. There is a massive amount of trails in this area, so finding a good hike was not a problem. We decided on a loop up Snowbowl road (which leads to the local ski resort). Who likes to hike out and back? Not us!

One of the best parts of hiking is taking breaks, right? Noah and Max make sure we get plenty of those! Just taking time to take in the beauty and fresh air, being aware of all your senses, and spotting tiny animals in the woods is such a treat!

Climbing on big boulders is always an adventure!

Sap everywhere! On Max' fingers, in his mouth, covering his clothes... Karl worked really hard to get it (almost) all off. As soon as he turned around, Max proceeded to pick the sap up from the ground and stick it back in his mouth! Why am I not surprised???

I love Sunday hikes. So simple, so wonderful.

Right now I should be working on my Sunday talk. Not so simple and probably not so wonderful. But equally refreshing and uplifting!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Noah's Epic Adventure

Guest post by Karl

Definition of an Epic experience, Karl version: “an outdoor adventure turned awry, wherein halfway through it you find yourself beyond your limits, accompanied by extreme hunger and fatigue. The route to safety and comfort involves even more hunger and fatigue. Often involves getting lost and getting back in the dark.”

Most people who have had epic experiences are over the hill. Meaning 11 years old (scouts). Noah's first epic experience came at the age of 5. Barely 5. Sure, it's my fault. But he asked for it. Really!

We'd been talking about going backpacking for weeks, but then when the day came around, we ended up bringing bikes as well, just in case we needed a ride before we started backpacking.

We drove up Shultz Pass Road to the trailhead I had in mind. I knew that there were several options for trails that aren't too difficult that Noah might not mind hiking on. I had been on those trails before and knew they would be pretty good for mountain biking as well, and since Noah loves dirt, dust, and going fast, we headed out on a little ride before donning the backpacks. And I do mean little. 15 minutes max. Done. Nice little non-epic ride.

We got back to the car, and although Noah had said that he kind of wanted to start hiking, I suggested we head down a bit of the Shultz Creek trail, intending to go for 5 minutes and return. For the record, I really did mean for it to be short. It's a great little singletrack with a slight downhill, so I wasn't surprised when Noah said he didn't want to turn around after 5 minutes. Another 5 minutes passed, and we had to walk the bikes over a steep rocky section. I told Noah about the dirt road parallel to the trail, and that we could always take the road back to the car. We had no warm clothes, no water, no food, but I wasn't about to tell Noah to stop if he was having so much fun. The weather was great, we had eaten recently, and we had plenty of gear and food in the car. I told him we'd hop over to the road the second he got too tired, and I'd push him while we rode back.

Onward. Other mountain bikers came by with incredulous looks, asking “How old is he?” Many stopped to let us by although we were headed downhill, just so they could see how the little kid with a tiny bike made it over the trails. It's not easy to navigate over rocks when you have 14” wheels, pedal brakes, and no traction on the back wheel. But Noah kept on telling the rocks, “You can't stop me!” He'd aim right for them and either go right over or get bounced back. He was pretty much ok with either result, so we kept on going.

Four miles later, we were not quite at the bottom of the trail, but we were running out of light, so I (not Noah!) directed us back to the dirt road for the ride home. There was washboard, passing dirt bikes, hills, a few breaks, more hills, more washboard, and the realization that we had already gone more than twice as far as Noah ever had before on a bike. True, I was pushing his back as we rode uphill, but he never stopped pedaling.

Over 2 hours and 8 miles after leaving the car, we had arrived in the dark. Noah was cold, hungry, thirsty, and ready to sleep. Two hot dogs, a PB&J, and a hot chocolate (actually a soymilk-chocolate hammer gel mix) later, he was in much better shape. One adventure gluttony experience is enough for one day, though, so we headed home. It was the perfect end to a first epic ride.

Note from Sarah: I was seconds away from putting Max to bed and enjoying an evening all to myself. Making pumpkin bread, stretching, reading, doing whatever I felt like. That was the plan. Then two dirty boys stormed in the door and that was the end of that plan. I could not be too upset though because they were really excited about their adventure and ready for a warm, cozy bed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Picking Plums

We went to Utah for a quick visit at the end of September and really enjoyed being 'home'. Karl needed to collect bugs in Ogden for one of his projects before it got too cold. No way was I going to stay here with the kids, so we loaded up the car and headed North.

I had been hoping to be able to visit Utah in the fall anyway. It is just absolutely gorgeous and there are so many fun things going on that I did not want to miss. Just Grandma and Grandpa's garden bounty alone is worth the trip. One of Noah's favorite things to do at their house is weeding. No joke. He really enjoys it. Both Noah and Max love spending time with their grandparents in the garden.

Unfortunately, we all had the stomach flu while there. So most days I could not muster up enough strength to get out the camera and take pictures. During their plum-picking party I just laid in the grass and took pictures. That was nice. Luckily, the sickness did not affect the boys as much and they still had plenty of energy to run around and enjoy themselves.

Max definitely enjoyed the climbing more than the picking but he was nevertheless proud of his loot. We absolutely love having so much fruit in our kitchen with Plum Crunch being our favorite!

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa! For letting us make messes in your house. For teaching the boys about gardening. For being so patient and kind. For cleaning up our vomit more than once. For serving us delicious meals. We love you!

Sorry. I hope no one that reads this blog and lives in Utah is going to be offended that I did not spend time with them. We only had a few days and those were packed already. Being sick did not help... We are going to come back for Christmas with more time and a Papa that will actually be with us in Provo rather than up in Ogden. So we will see you then!

One more Utah post to follow...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Slide Rock Fun

As soon as I heard about Slide Rock State Park, I knew that we had to go there - as soon as possible. I also knew that it would be one of my favorite places in Arizona. And it did not disappoint!

The drive through Oak Creek Canyon was beautiful. Definitely a place we need to go back to and explore some more. Funny thing is, it looks a lot like Utah!

Does this look extremely fun, or what? My kind of place for sure!

The water was colder than expected and very slippery. Max was not so sure at first!

I am not one to pass up a cliff-jumping opportunity. That would be my splash! It made me miss Lake Powell a lot!

Karl showing off his jumping skill.

The boys had a lot of fun, for sure. But I might have loved it even more than they did!

Drying off on the warm rocks after going through the natural water slide.

We also went for a great little hike up the canyon and can't wait to come back for more fun!!! Anyone want to join us??? It is only a 40 minute drive from Flagstaff...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthday Bash

New pajamas, new lego truck

We started Noah's birthday celebrations early this year! Knowing Karl was going to be gone all morning and most of the afternoon on Saturday, we decided to just tell him his birthday was on Friday! Now way was I going to pull it all off by myself!

Thursday night when we got home from the pool, there was a package on the front step. Noah was super excited! He really wanted to open it right away and I thought: Why not? It seems like too many presents at once never work very well anyway. So we gathered around and he opened Grandma and Grandpa's present: lego and pajamas. Just what he wanted! So he put on the pajamas and the boys went to work building the lego truck.

It turned out awesome! He loved it, took it to bed with him, and played with it - until Max decided he'd had enough and threw it against the wall and it shattered.

Max thought it would be fun to start Noah's birthday early on Friday. He was awake and ready to go at 5:30 am! You've got to be kidding me!!! I even cut out his nap, but it is not working. So we grabbed Noah, took him in bed with us, and let Max scream in his crib. I am not sure if he went back to sleep or not but we did not care until 7 am. Then we let him have fun with the balloons before we decided to wake up Noah at 7:30.

Noah opened a few more presents, we sang, blew out candles, he had his favorite cereal for breakfast, and off he went with Karl to preschool. He has been loving preschool and today they went to the local fire station! He got to ride in the fire truck and spray the fire hose! They could not have planned it any better. Then they all enjoyed some chocolate cupcakes.

In the afternoon, it was time for Noah's birthday party. He had been so excited about for so long. First, it was going to be a construction party. But once he realized that we were not going to build a treehouse with him and his little friends, he changes his mind. A firefighter party it was going to be.

At the party we had:
  • A great obstacle course designed by Karl, complete with animal rescue and fire slide. They loved it.
  • Fire extinguishing with Noah's new fire hose (and tank, from the thrift store). It sprays super far and was a hit. They were pretty good at taking turns though.
  • Some free play. These boys played together really well and came up with some fun ideas. They are all preschool buddies.
  • Cake and ice cream, birthday song and candles
Noah, Charlie, Tanner
  • A treasure hunt. As you may know, I love treasure hunts. Super easy to prepare. They get to run around, play detectives, and work together as a team. This one was quite involved but they did a great job. The 'treasure' was little bags with party favors.
  • Presents
Ash, Karl, Noah, Charlie

I would say it went pretty well. I always get stressed out right before but I guess that is normal. I should start preparing earlier. Also, I kind of want it to be low-key, yet really fun and as perfect as possible. Karl is a great sport and just goes along with whatever I come up with.

Noah thought it was great. I am always worried with that kid. He is so particular and has it all planned out in his own little head. And he can get really mad if things don't go the way he wants them to. But he had a fantastic time and loved it!

Then it was time for clean up. We were lucky to be able to use the group area by the office with a picnic table, grass, and rocks. It would have almost been impossible to have a decent party in our tiny apartment. We sure hauled a lot of stuff over there though. The boys enjoyed their ride home.

Noah trying to smile

Max was ... well, he was Max. Part of the big boys and into everything. When I tried to blow up balloons, he popped one after the other. When I brought the cake out, he pretty much dove right into it. When his diaper got heavy, he took it off and tried to strut around naked. And that is why neither one of us had time to play photographer.

We all still love you, Max!

Then it was time for dinner and more presents. Thanks to all the packages from Germany! Oma and Opa always send the best stuff! A marble run, a sweat shirt, a tool belt with real tools, and much more.

One very happy Noah!

The end. Phew.

Friday, October 8, 2010

5 Years Old

I love this kid more than words can say!
We are incredibly blessed to have him in our family!

And I am so thankful that he loves me, too!

He makes me happy.
What more could I ask for?

Happy 5th Birthday, Noah!

PS: More birthday posts to follow. Just wanted to make sure I did not forget about letting you all know how much Noah means to me. Before the birthday-party-craziness is about to begin... Actually, we are already in the middle of it. Planning parties is definitely not my forte, so wish me luck! And patience!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dirty Dash

Unfortunately, we had to miss the inaugural Dirty Dash back home at Soldier Hollow.
Noah is still heart broken.
So we decided to put on our own Dirty Dash.
Very spontaneously.

We were out on a nice little bike ride.
Stopped at a nice little park to play.
And then they found this:

There was no holding them back. Of course.
Not that I tried. You know me...
I was busy catching flying articles of clothing
and keeping at least Noah from exposing himself completely.
I was not too worried though.
We are not in Utah anymore and there was not a soul around.

The only problem was the complete lack of water
for cleaning them up.
Baby wipes, a trickling water fountain, and the water left in my bottle
were barely enough to clean off Max's pinky.

So they ran around in the grass until the mud dried.
Then we put the clothes back on over the dirt.
It worked just fine.

You should've seen the tub after their bath!
In case you are wondering:
Yes, it was definitely worth the hassle.
Yes, I would let them do it again.
As a matter of fact,
we have done something similar at least twice since then.

I just love sitting in the grass
and watching them have a blast!