Monday, December 17, 2012

That was Schnebly!

Note 1: Yes. We had a big snow storm over the weekend and had a great time playing outside. We even took some pictures. But I have a hard time moving on when something isn't finished, so here is the post I started a few weeks back. 

It's always a good day to head down to Sedona and go for a family hike. So that's what we did. It makes me so happy to leave Flagstaff in the winter and head 45 minutes south to warmth, red sand, and a bounty of spectacular hikes. Although, I have to admit, so far this winter hasn't been bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I am ready for some (or lots) of snow! Have I mentioned how I thankful I am that we chose Flagstaff, Arizona over Moscow, Idaho for Karl to get his PhD? Very thankful! 

We arrived all ready to go on our hike... and then spent the next 26 minutes watching the boys playing in the sand and water. But, no worries, there are few thing I enjoy more than lying on warm rocks daydreaming while the boys are hard at play. 

While I was half asleep, Karl planned out his trail run after the hike...

Where there is mud, there are mud balls made. 
And because they are very precious, they need to be hidden carefully 
so we can find them on the way back. 

Love these guys!

It's hard to choose a hike in Sedona because there are so many! 
We decided on Cathedral Rock
and it turned out to be a great choice! 
We should've known that the more challenging, 
the more fun for our kids (and us)! 

It's quite a steep (yet rather short) climb
so here is Karl teaching the boys 
how to climb properly (and safely). 

And my little climbers are off...

Max made it to the saddle 
and is still going strong. 
(Despite the fact that his shirt is on backwards as usual.)

Family picture attempt #1

Still having fun!

Family picture attempt #2

Enjoying the beautiful view!

"Ok. Now that I am warmed up, 
can we hike all the way to those mountains over there?"

Good times. Good memories. 

PS: On our way south, we go by Schnebly Hill Road. We all love to say Schnebly. Because, really, doesn't it sound cool? Plus, it works well in German and English. So we decided to adopt the word into our vocabulary. It now means: awesome.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Break in Tempe

water feature at the Center for the Arts

We finally have friends in the Phoenix area that we can go visit! Yippee! Karl's best childhood friend, Jordan, moved with his family from Provo to Tempe this fall and, needless to say, we are thrilled! Unfortunately, they already had plans to spend Thanksgiving with family in Albuquerque. But they offered to let us stay at their house while they were gone! Of course we said: YES! We would have loved to be with family for this wonderful holiday but didn't feel like driving 20 hours roundtrip now and then again in a few weeks. So off to Tempe we went on Wednesday morning to housesit

We did get to hang out with Jordan and Joanna and their kids for a few hours before they took off and it was very nice to visit them even if time was short. The good news is that we are coming back this next weekend already for Noah's soccer tournament and will be spending Saturday night at their house. Yay! We spent the afternoon making lemonade from the lemons in their backyard and exploring the neighborhood and parks on our bikes. Good times!

Thursday morning the boys went off to spend all day at the Phoenix Zoo and had a blast. ( I took them to the zoo back in February, so I figured it was Karl's turn now.) I got to go on a very nice and long bike ride to, up, down, and around South Mountain with Paul B. 6 hours on the bike gave me plenty of time to think of all the things I am grateful for. Then I laid down in the grass and enjoyed the warm sun. That's the life! 

As for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, we skipped that part. We had grilled chicken and veggies, and ice cream for desert. Works for me! But because the kids had been learning about Thanksgiving at school and what you are supposed to be eating on that day, I overheard the following conversation in the bathroom on Thursday night: 

"Hey. Thanksgiving is Thursday."
"I think today is Thursday."
"Yeah. You are right. Today is Thursday. It's Thanksgiving."
"We didn't even have any turkey!"
"Or mashed potatoes!"
"Or corn!"
"Or pizza!" 

Poor kids! But, hey, they'll live. They are only part American anyway... 
(Disclaimer: We did make our own version of Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday night. Sunday seems like the only good day to spend a whole bunch of time in the kitchen. I think the kids are satisfied now!)

On Friday we went on our biggest family bike tour to date. More than 10 miles! And because we were out and about for almost 4 hours to cover those 10 miles, no one complained and we all had a great time! We headed over to ASU campus and found some awesome fountains to play in! Yay for 85 degrees in November! I could get used to this... Then we rode through downtown Tempe, stopped by, and played at Tempe Beach Park. I had just been there a few days ago to watch Ironman Arizona and had to tell Karl all about my awesome spectating extravaganza

Then we explored the water feature at the Center for the Arts, bought Max a piece of candy so he wouldn't fall asleep on the trail-a-bike, and barely made it back home in time before dark. An excellent family day! 

more water fun

Saturday didn't quite go as planned. I thought I had finally found a pool that was open for family swimming but when we got there we realized that really all the pools are closed for the season! I am assuming all Phoenicians have turned into wusses because why else would no one want to swim outside when it is sunny and 85 degrees? But we found a great park to play in and the kids thought the splash pad was just about as good as any pool! 

A great weekend with lots of quality family time in the sun! 

Thank you, Harmon Family, for allowing us to crash your place and have an affordable Thanksgiving vacation! We owe you but are more than happy to pay you back! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

While We Were Walking...

If you know me, you know how much I hate sitting in a car. That's one of the main reasons I am not looking forward to winter time.  The kids usually ride their bikes to school in the morning without complaining. It's just what we do. But when we go to pick up Noah at 3:20 in the afternoon, it's a different story. He is tired, worn-out, and hungry. The last thing he wants to do is bike up a rather big hill. So we find a nice spot somewhere and have a picnic. Then he is ready to go. 

On his birthday, Noah chose to walk to school instead of ride. Fine by us! They had a great time walking, running, skipping, and climbing their way to school. It isn't a long commute but, believe me, one mile can take a reeeeeaaaally long time. Good thing it was Karl that took them! 

At noon I made my way back over there with a big bag full of cookies to give to a bunch of crazy 1st graders. Then Max and I walked back home to enjoy lunch and some down time before gearing up for yet another walk to school. Good thing it was a beautiful October day and we were loving the warmth and sunshine! 

Noah had a great day at school and on our final trip home we stopped by Mama Burgers for some lemonade. We took a nice little short-cut on some smaller roads and had a great time taking pictures. It is actually a detour but the kids think of it as a short-cut and I am not going to enlighten them anytime soon! So much better than the busy road straight home. 

I love these guys! 

This kid is growing up and I am loving it! This is the first time in 7 years of motherhood that I am thinking it would be nice if time slowed down a bit. I enjoy watching him become more independent in so many ways and yet knowing that he would rather be with his family than anywhere else. (Except for  at soccer, of course.)

Yep. I am also loving his hair. Now that he is old enough to take his own showers and take care of his own hair, I could care less what length it is. I want my kids to make their own choices. And his choice right now is to look like a European soccer player. I guess his birthday was the one day this month when he wasn't wearing a black band in his hair...

Although Noah is tough as nails when it comes to playing sports, he is also very sensitive. Yesterday morning he was in tears because I wasn't coming to eat lunch with him. The school offered a Thanksgiving lunch and parents were invited to join their kids in the cafeteria for it. Aehm. No thanks. I'd rather ride my bike outside on the last nice and warm day this year! I mean: Hello! Max was fine. He couldn't have cared less. But because I don't like to see Noah heart broken, I promised him we'd go on a date this weekend and I'd join his class on a field trip next week. Yikes. It'd better not be nice enough to ride next week or I am in trouble! 

Max was a trooper walking a total of 4 miles that day! But how could you get bored if you get to look at cool art work like Ninja guys with pumpkin heads that your older brother drew for you? 

We finished the day off by playing with birthday presents, eating Pizza, and having our friends and neighbors, the Ernsts, over for desert. 

We did indeed have a party for Noah and his friends the following Friday but we were too busy making sure the party was a success to take a single picture! Sad!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bryce Canyon Family Fun

Remember how we did a little one-night camping stint in the desert on our way to Utah? On our way back we wanted to take the boys to Bryce Canyon and camp some more. So we did. And it was great! Except that it rained and was freezing the night we got there. Oh, and all the campsites were taken as well. Craptastic! The gracious campground host let us pitch our tent in a special place for one night and then we had to move the next day. Not ideal but better than nothing! 

My little kitchen helper and his hippo:

Of course there was a soccer game of some sorts going on:

Only the best for my bike. I went on a lovely ride (during which I had to dodge several cows) and when I was done my bike got to rest here:

For some reason this campsite wasn't ideal for the boys. Well, it wasn't ideal for soccer playing... Or maybe the boys just haven't been camping enough lately... But they had a hard time entertaining themselves, so in a moment of desperation I let them cut up my completely worn-out running shoes and turn them into Panther sleds. Or something like that: 

Thank you, Max, for this fantastic shot! I am pretty sure he wanted me to share it with all of you:

And here it is. Our stunning Bryce Canyon: 

Hiking down into it: 

And hiking back up. The kids had a great time! Although it wasn't Easter, I used the same trick as at the Grand Canyon to ensure that the hike would be a pleasant one without any complaining. We brought a few pieces of candy that we hid at different places on the way up. Score! 

Noah and Max are now old enough to be Junior Rangers and worked on another badge while in Bryce Canyon. They now have 3 and we are looking forward to many more!  

I am really hoping we can go on another camping trip when Karl gets back from Germany which isn't for another 8 weeks... or 8 days... Who cares. Either way it's really super duper long.