Sunday, December 3, 2017

Thanksgiving Adventures

Well this first picture really has nothing to do with our Thanksgiving adventures, but it does have to do with our adventures at home.  I happened to be outside a couple weeks ago and turned to the field and saw a horse that I had never seen before!  I thought to myself, "Whose horse is this??  And how did it get into our field??"  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was Crazy Alice!  She had rolled in the dirt and completely covered herself in black dirt except for her white head.  Yes folks, this horse is normally completely white--
 I would hose her off (because she loves that) but once we are done hosing her off the first thing she does--every time--is immediately go roll in the dirt...  ugh.

But we did have a fun Thanksgiving jaunt down to Moab.  Since it was just us and Eric's parents we didn't really feel like going through the whole hoopla of making a big dinner.  So we hightailed it out of town to the beautiful vistas of Moab.  We hiked out to a few arches--including Utah's famous Delicate Arch.  The trails were fun because they were a lot of slick rock that is fun to hike on.  Tyler found a fun spot--no one will miss these cairns!
We hiked out to Delicate Arch and it was neat because we were able to go right up to it and touch it, etc.  It was neat to see it in person after seeing it on almost every picture depicting Utah!  
 We also found a crazy huge sand hill--this picture doesn't even depict how tall and steep it was.  I think it was the favorite spot for the kids for the trip (except maybe the hotel pool).  It was, however, not my favorite spot because I'm still finding red sand in my car...  

 On one of our hikes we stopped to use the restroom (read: glorified outhouse) and Tyler and I were laughing at the sign of "instructions" inside on the wall...

 HA HA HA!  Not sure who actually needs these instructions but they must be there for a reason!  I think the janitor must have gotten sick of cleaning up after people's misunderstanding.

Another cool arch was landscape arch.  They do not allow you to walk up to it anymore because several years ago a huge chunk collapsed off one side.  Luckily no one was hurt, but it is getting pretty thin on that side and possibly dangerous.  But it was still cool to look at.
 We found an "arch" that was really a hole in the rocks above us.  We dubbed it "Toilet Bowl Arch" because that's pretty much exactly what it looked like.
 Strike a pose...
 We are so lucky where we live because it seems like we always have beautiful sunrises and sunsets but last week we had a particularly beautiful one--these I snagged with my camera so they aren't as spectacular as they were in person, but it still looks just like a painting!

 Even though I got all my Christmas decor up, it took me until a couple days into December to realize I didn't have an advent calendar this year.  I wanted something cute so saw this picture online and voila!  Stockings of goodies for each day until Christmas!
 And like we did last year I took Maggie and her friends to a BYU production--this year was "Into the Woods."  The first half was awesome--the second half....a little weird.  But enjoyable nonetheless.  Ad the girls had a memorable night so that's what counts!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Parties, Pianos, Pumpkins, Ponies, Parents and Pedicures

Definitely a "P" month for us!  And a super fun one at that.  Fall is such a great time of year!

Maggie is celebrating her 9th birthday!  OH NO!  I only have one more year until she hits double digits.  Yikes.  Well, seeing as how she already acts like she is 8 going on 16 it probably won't be much different....   She mulled over her options and decided to have a spa party at a local salon, Aria.  The girls got their hair done, nails and makeup.  It was so awesome!  They have a whole upstairs room for parties--while the girls were waiting their turn for the different pampering stations, they had a movie playing.  Then afterward had a dance party!  I highly recommend it to anyone wanting an easy birthday--no mess, no fuss, and it was actually super affordable.  And boy did my little diva love every minute!
 I suppose I did put a bit of an effort into it, I made her rainbow cloud cupcakes.  They came out super cute and totally delicious.  I made the frosting look like fluffy white clouds on top.  And of course rainbow sprinkles.

All the girls (minus one who left early) dolled up and ready to party (dance party)!
 It was definitely a hit.

I really like living out here in the "country"--even though I am blocks away from a neighborhood.  I wasn't sure how I'd fare out here, seeing as how I've always lived in a suburb type neighborhood with neighbors right close by.  But I actually have really enjoyed it, and one of my favorite things it when I pull down the driveway and all the horses are out front.  Sometimes they are eating, sometimes they are all lined up at the fence, and sometime (rarely) they are all basking in the afternoon fall sun.  The other day I drove by and they were all lazing about....
 Although fall is my favorite season, it is also a time of crazy schedules for our family.  All my kids do fall activities--Tyler did football, Jake does soccer, Maggie does hip hop and tumbling (which is all year), and Joey did soccer for the first time this year.  Pile that on top of piano and guitar lessons, scouts, young men, my calling in young women, Eric's calling in young mens, activity days...well it makes for a hectic few months.  We are finally through with football and soccer so I am happily taking a respite from the driving.  Luckily my kids like to ski more than basketball so they opt out of playing basketball so they can spend Saturdays at the slopes.  Fine by me!  But it was fun to see my kids enjoy their sports, especially Joey.  He LOVED playing soccer and can't wait until spring to start again!  And watching his age is my favorite sport to watch.  I get too invested in Jake's team and competitive, but Joey is playing with first graders so it is still mostly what I like to call Bumble-Ball.  And it is hilarious.  But Joey did great and actually tried to play his position pretty well, probably learned it from watching his brother.  He even score a goal!  Go Joey!
 The highlight of the season was definitely Eric's parents coming home from their mission.  It seemed like it flew by to me, but I know they were happy to be home and back on American soil!  We got to hear about it and see some pretty cool pictures--boy are they well traveled!  We are so glad they got home safely and can't wait to start having them at family stuff now!
 Of course the ladies had to spend an afternoon relaxing.  Hillary was in town, so we took some girl time.  And what better way to celebrate than an assembly line of pedicures!  Can you tell which one of these things is not like the others????  (Me, the blondie)
 This picture is weird but it is the only one I got of Jacob's piano festival.  He and Maggie both had songs to perform and were pretty nervous but they did great!  They both got superiors and were happy to be done with it!   (and so am I--I couldn't stand listening to those same songs any more!)  But I had to post this picture because did you notice his feet?  We had to come straight from a soccer game and I asked Jake 10 times if he had everything he needed to change into--shirt, tie, pants, shoes.  He kept saying yes and finally said "YES!" and told me to stop asking.  Well, lo and behold, we are half way to the piano festival and Jake tells me he forgot his shoes.  So his choices were fluorescent yellow cleats (I'm sure the people would love it if he played their piano in cleats) or his red soccer socks.  He opted for the socks and did the whole performance sans shoes, with bright red socks....   Well, he did get a superior so maybe the judges liked it!  (note taken for next year....)
 My good friend decided to do a pumpkin patch at her place.  Yup, she's a real go-getter.  I'll just let everyone else plan the big stuff and I'll attend as a happy patron.  It was so fun--she had all the essentials and probably the best cotton candy I've ever had (gourmet flavors--we got Lime Ricky and Tiger's Blood).  The boys had a blast racing on the trikes.  Although Joey was the only one who could actually fit on it the right way.
 There was also a big corn kernel pit.  That was probably the highlight.  The stayed in there for probably an hour!  I loved this candid shot of them playing together...without fighting....for this moment...I think it lasted 2 minutes.....
 Tyler fell in love with this little goat and wanted me to buy it so we could take it home.  No thanks.  I've got enough animals--6 horses, 5 fish, one dog and 3 boys....
 To top off the night we took a horse drawn wagon ride.  Since my friend was the driver she let me kids sit up front with her.  They thought they were pretty cool....and who can blame them!
 So after the pumpkin patch we were definitely getting into the Halloween Spirit.  So it was just a great addition to that to go to Maggie's "reader's theater" at school.  Her teacher is amazing and got a grant to buy violins for each student in her class.  As part of class she teaches them to play songs.  (Jacob had the same teacher)  Maggie did so good at her songs, and had her cute little smile the whole time.
 Then she got to act a part in a 3 witches play.  She loved every minute.  And it was so cute to watch her!
 Maggie also loves the horses but doesn't get too much of a chance to ride them.  So when she had a friend over the other day Eric generously took them on a little ride.  They each took their own horse--but he did get a shot of them both on Cinco.  Yee haw.

 As I said before, I don't need any more animals--and part of the reason is this...
 We had the Swenson's homecoming at our house last Sunday, and so we had a ton of garbage.  Well, no matter how many times I tell the kids to make sure the garbage lid closes or tie the bag, they never do.  And when that happens this is what I wake up to in the morning.  Now it's easy to say to make the kids clean it up, but I never notice it until after they have left for school....   I wish I could make Ziggy clean it up since she is culprit. Argh!

Halloween was a success this year.  I like to see the kids get dressed up because I remember how much I loved it when I was a kid.  Maggie (after MUCH contemplation and mind-changing) decided to be a deer.  It was so easy and cheap--my two favorite costume adjectives!  I just bought a brown shirt and used brown leggings.  I literally glued on some craft fur, felt and voila.  The makeup looks a lot harder than it was.  Easier than last year's!  Plus it was cute because Maggie loved it so much.

Tyler pondered how to still dress up but not look like a nerd.....
 Success!  Ha. I know you are thinking he looks like a nerd, but he is Dwight Schrute from "The Office."  Complete with name tag "Assistant to the Regional Manager" and calculator watch....

 Jacob's was the trickiest to pull off.  When I asked him what he wanted to be he said a "taco truck."  ????  How he came up with that I'll never know.  Actually, I do know.  Sometimes we play 20 questions in the car and only once have we been completely stumped.  Jake was the chooser and he picked "taco truck."  No one could guess it--so now it is our little family inside joke.  But lo and behold we worked together and pulled it off!  And it actually came out amazing.  We made the truck out of a box and had a ton of fun decorating it together.  No detail overlooked.  Arrrreba!!

 Last but not least, Joey's costume was actually my favorite.  First of all because it took no effort except to put him in it, but mostly because it looked hilarious as he walked.  The dinosaur waddled back and forth and it seriously made me giggle all night.  Usually I get sick of taking the kids trick or treating but I could've done that forever because it just made me happy!

 So October was full of fun and we are excited to get ready for Thanksgiving!  (Best meal of the year!!!!!!)  Happy haunting!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Livin' It Up in the City

I found a couple of rogue pictures from our weekend staycation in Salt Lake.  The best of which was the ones of the restaurant we ate at for breakfast--Coachman's Dinner & Pancake House.  It was truly an ode to the '70's complete with red carpet, fake wood paneling, nautical themed decor and mirrors on the walls.  

 It was a little sketchy but we trusted the sign, which I thought was hilarious--Come in, YOU will be pleasantly surprised!  That is seriously the best advertising ever.  How could we resist?
 And it actually was pretty good--we WERE pleasantly surprised!  Ha ha.  And in true throwback fashion it was a cash only place.  Fun way to end our little getaway.

In the culmination of Tyler's summer efforts, he had his real rock band concert.  As usual it was super fun to see him up on stage.  He sang one of the songs and sounded great.  The kids has musical talent--I just wish I knew how to get him to practice more!

 Tyler and the gang--"The Lazy Boys."
 Tyler didn't like some of the songs they did and he wanted to do more, so I told him to start his own band.  Nothing yet but I think he'd have fun!

On the sadder side, there's been some hurricanes come through parts of the country that caused a lot of devastation.  Jake's soccer team was going to have a bake sale fundraiser but instead turned it into a Hurricane Relief fundraiser.  They raised almost $700!  That's awesome for this little group of boys on a Saturday morning.  It was the day of the big BYU v Utah football game so of course the bake sale was Cougars v Utes.  I think the cougar side won the bake sale, too bad we lost the game.  But I was super proud of these boys!
 A small tribute to our dog, Ziggy.  She is such a fun dog to have.  She loves all things outdoor so naturally Eric is her favorite person ever, despite the fact that I am the one who feeds her and takes care of her.  Figures.  She is very well-adjusted and certainly likes to make herself comfortable...
 We had a birthday in the house too--Joey turned 7!  I can't believe it.  They just keep getting bigger and bigger, even though I keep telling them not to.  He had a few friends over and we went to Lowe's Airsports.  He got some cool gifts and had fun.  Joey is such a funny kid--sometimes he is a TOTAL STINKER, but other times he is the sweetest thing you've ever seen.  He give "love pats" on your back when he hugs you (it's my favorite thing) and loves to snuggle.  He's definitely growing up fast, but I think that's what happens when kids have so many older siblings to imitate.  He loves sugar (who doesn't) and playing outside.  And best of all, he has the greatest laugh of all time.  Love you buddy!
 Eric and Tyler went on a horse ride a couple weeks ago.  The leaves are starting to turn and it's getting colder so they wanted to head out before the weather gets too bad.  Tyler is turning into a pretty good rider these days.  Looking more and more like a real cowboy!
 Tyler also got his braces off!  Woo hoo!
 One of the first signs of fall!!!
 One of the gifts Joey got for his birthday was a stomp rocket.  We've had them in the past but not for a long time so he had a ton of fun sending them soaring!  We made sure to stay away from the house so the rockets wouldn't get stuck on the roof--thanks for the tip Aunt Katie!
 This past weekend we took a trip to the big apple, the one and only New York City.  We had a bunch of money in free airline tix (from getting bumped previously) that had to be used soon.  Jake has always wanted to go to NYC so we decided to surprise him.  Tyler's been on lots of trips so we figured it was Jake's turn to go.  Plus Jake is such a great kid--he always helps out and gets his chores done so well.  It's time he got to do something fun with just me and dad.  We told him the night before we left.  He was so excited!

Eric and I have been to NYC a few times, but we did lots of new things this trip.  Here's a few highlights..

First we just walked around--we went to Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, a bunch of stores....
 We went inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.  It was really cool--very ornate, lots of stained glass, statues, the works.  Jake wanted to light a candle but it cost $3 so we decided to pass on the blessings for that day!  Here's a selfie of me and Jake--I'm not very good at taking them.  Notice how Eric snuck in the background there!
 One thing we hadn't done before was go to the Museum of Natural History.  We tried to go years ago but it was when they were filming Night at the Museum 2 so it was all closed.  But we did get to see Ben Stiller!  Anyway, this time it was fun to go in.  It is ENORMOUS!  Almost too much to take in for one visit.  But we had to stop in at the Gems and Minerals exhibit.  It was like Jacob's Shangri-La.  He could've spent hours there!  I definitely feel smarter after going through the museum...
 We went to Central Park Zoo, and walked around more stores.  There was one weird store that was Japanimation style toys.  The one thing they really needed though was a giant oversized stuffed bear....oh wait...
 Another first for all of us was going to the top of the Empire State Building.  I've been to the building before but never up to the top.  It was really cool!  The building itself was amazing--all in the art deco style, no detail overlooked from the floors, to the light fixtures, to the elevator doors.  We rode up to the top and got an amazing view of the city.  You can see it behind us here--in just a few minutes we will be at the top!
 Okay, I think I'm getting better at this selfie's just you can see my arm in Eric's glasses!  Oh well.  And the building behind was actually bent weird like that, it isn't the camera.
 The elevator doors....
And here you can see the World Trade Tower in the distance and the Statue of Liberty (the tiny speck out in the water)
 Totally cool.  After the Empire State Building we went to Grand Central Station.  It took us a few minutes to figure out the Subway system but once we got it, it was easy.  I think it was just tricky at first because Grand Central is SOOOO big!  With so many trains/subways!  But talk about an awesome building--once again every detail was amazing.  Even though everyone there was busting about, it almost felt like stepping back in time.  The fixtures, decor, grates, everything was so neat.
 So we managed to find our line....
 And took it down to Yankee Stadium for our first game at Yankee Stadium!
 It was a blast.  We all even bought some NY Yankees hats to be true fans!
When we sat down we noticed we were right by Zack Hample--I wouldn't have known him but we had just watched a news story about him.  He has made a career out of catching balls at baseball games.  In fact, he's caught thousands of them.  He studies stadiums and players and figures out the most likely place to get a ball--and he has only gotten skunked twice in the last 5 years!  He travels all around the US to games and has a YouTube channel.  Seriously, we were thinking sweet!  We will hopefully get a ball!  Well, we didn't get one, but it was fun to see him (now that I know who he is).

 Yankees won!  The next day as we walked through Times Square we stopped to watch a group of street performers.  They pulled Jake in and then Eric as part of their skit.  It was fun at first but then it took FOREVER!  In the end, they had two guys jump over Jake, had Eric do a dance with a line of other men they snagged, then asked for money.  So it turned out to be just their way of finagling money out of you--and it was sooo long.  Oh well, at least Jake got his 15 minutes of fame (which he hated, BTW)
 Eric and his dance...I did film it but I'm forbidden to ever show it to anyone...
 We took a walk to the Brooklyn Bridge.  We walked out onto it, then right back.  Ha ha.  To many people made it way too hard to walk!
 Another thing I had never done was see the 9/11 Memorial and museum.  Last time we were in NYC the rubble from the towers was still being cleaned up.  The wading pools and museum were amazing. I could have spent all day at the museum but Jake was getting bored.  I tried to explain to him how that day changed the world, but he just didn't get it.  This is the only world he's ever known, so he just couldn't grasp it.  But I found the museum to be amazing, emotional, and so well done.  The wading pools are really beautiful as well.
 Of course down on Wall St we had to go see the bull.  Jake got a little mini-lesson on the stock market.  I didn't wait for a great picture with the bull because there were too many people, once again.
 For our meals this trip we tried to go to as many fun eateries as possible.  No chain restaurants for us!  We ate the quintessential New York hot dog from a stand, authentic Dominican food from a hole in the wall place, had the best fish tacos i've ever eaten, street pizza which was amazing, a bagel with cream cheese, etc and found this AMAZING dessert place in Little Italy.  We got Italian sodas and an assortment of Italian desserts.  Delicious.  I wish I had a bigger stomach so I could have tried more!  It was fun to go with Jake because he is getting to be quite the adventurous eater and loved all the places we went.
 Times square at night....  This was right after our encounter with the Naked Singing Cowboy and the topless "painted clothes on" women.  Nice.

 Mind the gap Jake!

Here's a view of the new World Trade Tower.  Tallest building in the USA.  We didn't go up to the top, we decided to just do that at the Empire State Building, because the Empire bldg is so iconic.  But the outside of the World Trade Tower was cool.
 Our last night there we found the best fish taco place ever at Chelsea Market.  It was a tiny place blasting ear-drum bursting latin music.  All they sold was fish and shrimp tacos pretty much.  But they were so good!  We ate our first order then ended up going back for more.  Then we explored Chelsea Market and got mini donuts for dessert.  My favorite meal of the whole trip!!!
Of course we missed our flight coming home.  We decided to take the Subway to the airport and it turned out a bunch of it was under construction so it took forever to get there.  It ended up taking us 2 1/2 hours to get from our hotel to JFK.  Ugh!  So we got the airport 45 minutes before our flight left and they told us it was too late and we couldn't get on.  What!  I was surprised.  I could understand if we got there 20 minutes ahead, but I'd think that 45 was enough.  regardless there was nothing we could do so we rebooked to the next available flight which wasn't until 7:30 that night (our original flight was at 11:30).  So we got to spent the ENTIRE day at JFK (torture).  Finally we made it home safe and sound.  What a fun trip!