Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a peek at 2010

Our year in 10 photos:
We started out year sending Brady off to Iowa. Can you believe he's already at the halfway point of his mission? Turns out he is a tremendous missionary. We love him and miss him.
We've continued our family tradition of continuously re-building our 60 year old house. This was the year of the attic. We have a very usable walk-in space now with new dormers and windows to add light to the room.Dave and I reached our 25th wedding anniversary this summer. We celebrated in Europe! Three weeks, six countries.
We are glad to live near family and have many opportunities to see them and celebrate family events with them. The best thing about this picture is my nephew Ben in the background. He is definitely related. There is no such thing as a serious picture with this group. (Garry, Lauri, Me and Curtis)
I had a rare opportunity to take a road trip all by myself for a few days. I drove to Utah and visited family, high school and college friends, and got a chance to do a little hiking. Roxanne bought a house this year. Although I don't have an adequate picture of her and her house, this picture of yard work is indicative of being a new home owner.
There were a WHOLE lot of boys hanging around our house this year!Dave and I were the "Ma" and "Pa" on a Pioneer Trek with our stake this summer. (Melanie went too, but was assigned to a different family.) Many hours were spent making aprons and bonnets. We spent 3 fun-filled days with these kids in the rain and mud.
Dave continues to enjoy his tractors. He built and entered a float in the Electric Light Parade in Phoenix again this year. Although it is lighted to look like a train, there is a 60 year old antique tractor there, pulling the float. Our family has lost a combined total of 220 pounds over the past 3 years. We all feel stronger and healthier. Everyone contributed to that number except Roxanne who continuously stays thin and petite.
(It was hard to take a family photo this year without Brady)
As the year closes, we find that we still like each other and are so blessed to be surrounded by wonderful and supportive friends and family.

south mountain

This is one of my favorite hikes (and two of my favorite people).

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Suzanne and I headed out to the McDowell Mountains the other day. We'd never been out there before so we just picked a random loop trail on the map and off we went. It was a perfect hike for us. Before we ended our little adventure out there though, I found I was getting ticked at a few discrepancies I noticed. Scottsdale isn't terribly far away. This mountain preserve is only about 30 minutes from our house. You can easily see the McDowell Mountains from the Phoenix Mountains, and vice versa. So I'm not talking about a land far, far away. This is just the next mountain range over. Yet . . . somehow the good people of Scottsdale are being provided certain amenities above and beyond what the people of Phoenix get.
First of all, the view of the valley was better than any view I've ever seen hiking around Phoenix. (Ok, Scottsdale doesn't actually "provide" a better view, it's just that it had rained all night and there was no smog anywhere in the valley that morning. It's rare to see clear across the valley with no smog in sight.)
There is a doggie water fountain. (We didn't actually have dogs with us, but if we did . . . they could totally enjoy the water fountain.)
The trails have crisp clean edges, smooth, level . . . practically paved!
If you should get lost or hurt, there is an emergency marker to guide you and find your place on the map.
The buildings are architectually pleasing. There are 3D topographical maps of the mountain ranges. There is plenty of parking. Even the trash cans are styled and designed.
But this is what REALLY bugs me. The bathrooms have mirrors. There is soap at the sinks. And there are doors on the bathroom stalls. DOORS !!!!
Why would this seem unusual?? Because down the street at the Phoenix Mountain Park where I hike, this is what the bathrooms look like:No doors. (And yes, that is a padlock on the toilet paper.)
The trail markers have a sort of arrow shape painted on the posts. Many of them are faded beyond recognition.
And these are the fancy Phoenix trash cans you see around the park. Don't they just blend in? (and there's a mangy cactus under the picnic table)
BUT . . . all was redeemed the next day. Up on a mountain, just after sunrise, looking toward Camelback Mountain in PHOENIX. . . . was this stunning view:

Breathtaking, I tell you!
(Scottsdale has nothing on us after all!)

conversations at christmas

Random comments heard around our house on Christmas:

Billy: "Does it concern you that your daughters can break into houses in multiple ways, but don't know how to hem a pair of pants?"

Rachel: "My boyfriend has some mad balloon animal making skills!"
Billy's skills, not so much:"I made a tadpole!"
On my package: "The most lovely lady on the block. The one and only beautiful Hott Mama"
To Rachel, a Gift card to Barnes and Noble:
Roxanne: "I couldn't find the book you wanted, so I got you a gift card."
Billy: "I fell asleep at that Barnes and Noble so I hope the card means something special to you."
Gift tag from Melanie: To Kyle the Tile "I tried to make it sound cool, but nothing really rhymes with Kyle" His gift, a remote control police car: "I'm going to pull someone over with this!"
Melanie's favorite gift, a Bedazzler: "I have been dreaming about this FOREVER! I'm going to bedazzle everything !" Everyone else: "You can bedazzle your easy bake oven!" "Nobody leave your shoes out!" "I'm afraid to go to sleep now!"

New bag of Potpourri: "You know how our bowl of potpourri is dusty? Now we have a new scent. We can bedazzle it. It will be pretty and smell good"

Roxanne: "Billy knows just what I like." Billy: "That's because I told her - here is $20, walk around the mall and if you find something, buy it."

Dave gave the girls some HUGE illustrated storybooks. Melanie: "Roxanne, now you can be a 2nd grade teacher!"

Melanie, opening a video: "I've never seen the Three Stooges. I think this will finish up my education!"

Dave gave Rachel a gift that included a LONG letter listing all the reasons he loves her, which included: "I love you because you know what a groove reducing coupling is."
(It was a box that scrolled out a long letter, (a LONG letter) then scrolled out into a string of money-all $2 bills)
Dave got everyone wooden 3D puzzles.
Melanie: "I got a wasp, no . . . a cicada."
Roxanne: "What's a cicada?"
Melanie: "It's those bugs you don't want to see floating in your pool."
Rachel: "Mine's the best, I got the Eagle."
Cynthia: "It says for ages 6+, so there's a bit of a buffer there."
Billy: "My dinosaur will eat your motorcycle"
Kyle: "But my motorcycle is cross country so it will chase your dinosaur."
Billy: "But your motorcycle will need some fuel sometime and my dinosaur will be waiting at the gas station."
Billy, opening a Charger's t-shirt from Roxanne: "Now we can go to the Charger's games in style . . . well, once Roxy buys us both some Chargers tickets."
Melanie got some barbie clothes and stuffed them with money for Rachel to get a new outfit. Imagining taking these to the store with her: "I know you don't take checks, but do you accept "doll"ars?"
We ended the day with a messy house, our bellies full of Christmas goodness and a lot of this silliness:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

the facts of christmas

There still has to be a letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even though the youngest person in the house is 16 years old.

"Dear Santa,
Please help yourself to our plethora of treats. They are all most divine and filling. Mrs. Clause might even be jealous of our dessert skillz.
I believe the Hale unit has been 100% good this year so no coal would be necessary.
I hope you travel safe tonight and stay warm. . . Get Brady something RAD! He deserves the best !!
--Melanie, Roxanne, Billy, Rachel and Kyle

There were a lot of children's gifts/toys/movies given around here even though the youngest person in the house is 16 years old.

Dave enjoyed shopping so much this year, there were many presents under the tree for him. (yes, that means from Dave, to Dave)

I am glad that there is a lot of candy and holiday food available to snack on all day long. I am glad no one is truly hungry. I forgot to put the meat in the crockpot and our main dish for dinner this afternoon is not going to happen. We will subsist on Muddy Buddies, Divinity, Sugar Cookies and Eggnog.

I didn't get enough sleep last night. A nap is definitely in order this afternoon.

Forty Five minutes is NOT enough time to visit with our favorite missionary who we haven't seen for 353 days.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The day started with some dramatic lights as the sun came up in the nearby hills.
My little phone camera made it look just a wee bit more dramatic than it really was, but it was a nice sunrise nonetheless and a great early morning hike. Then the day ended with some dramatic lighting of a different kind. We spent the evening out at the temple. Not only a great evening of lights, but Dave's chorus sang for the evening performance. It was an awesome performance, so good in fact that I was so enthralled with the music I didn't get my camera out the rest of the evening . . . until we were leaving and I snapped a couple of blurry pictures of the lights, but no pictures of my husband. Just know that he was dashingly handsome, and performed wonderfully. Everyone loved them and they've already been invited to come back and perform again next year. Yeah, they're that good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

fa la la la la, la la la la

It's the middle of December, and the leaves are finally turning colors of yellow and gold. Autumn has arrived in Arizona. And we all know what that means . . . IT'S TIME TO GO CHRISTMAS CAROLING with the family !!
And now for your viewing pleasure, here is our family's skit for the ward party which involved a dramatic reading and a dancing present. Don't ask what the point of it was. There was no point, except that Melanie wanted to dress as a present.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

just random stuff

Apparently it was Lexi's birthday today. There was a big white board in our living room today with this message on it. Melanie said she remembered about it yesterday, but didn't want to write anything about it until today because she didn't want Lexi to read it and spoil the surprise.
Lexi didn't seem to be too excited about the birthday wishes.
Other stuff going on around here -- we had a lovely Thanksgiving. Our group was small. We are missing Brady during the holidays this year. It is the first time our family won't be intact through the holidays. Not only were we missing Brady, but Rachel drove up to Utah to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. She had a great weekend, but it made me very nervous for her to be on the roads with so many storms blowing through. Fortunately, she had no problems in traveling. Roxanne's boyfriend spent the day with us and we invited a couple of families over later in the day to have pie and we sat out by the fire pit for the evening.
Brady got transferred last week. He didn't know where he was being sent when he last e-mailed us, so it has been making me anxious not knowing where he is living for a few days. He could be in Iowa, Illinois or Missouri tonight. I don't know why that makes me unsettled. I'll hear from him tomorrow morning and then I'll feel better. We get to talk to him in less than 3 weeks YAY!
I am still surprised that people pay us to paint this silliness on their store windows. Shannon and I realized that we've been doing this for 17 years. It is our guilt-free Christmas spending money. Most clients ask us to stay away from anything other than the generic "Season's Greetings". So it is surprising to have someone ask us to paint "Peace on Earth" and for the 2nd time in 17 years, we painted a nativity scene.
Melanie tried out for soccer this year and is on the varsity team. Games start this week. It will be fun to see how she does. This is her first go at team sports.
Dave made a float for the annual Electric Light Parade here in Phoenix. It's a fun event and he loves the whole process - designing, building, painting, driving, waving to his fans etc. He and his brothers used to make floats for the parades in his hometown so this is something that ties to his family and hometown memories. And if Dave is not busy enough, his chorus Spirit of Phoenix has 3 big performances coming up. One of the performances is out at the Temple Lights in Mesa later this month. They are really, really good.In more embarrassing family doings (embarrassing to me, but apparently not to anyone else), Melanie participated in a self-imposed event called "No Shave November". There didn't seem to be a purpose, but she was glad for the morning of December 1st to come.
Dave did a major smash up job on his fingers at work recently and had two very black fingernails. He told Melanie he didn't want his fingernails to look so ugly so he talked her into painting his two fingernails. (Ugly? or Goofy? what's worse, I don't know.)
We've had a wonderfully quiet Sunday afternoon. On days like this, I sure see the wisdom of the Sabbath being a day of rest. The last six days have been over-scheduled and stressful for everyone in this house. I will be glad for the semester to end. Rachel has a split personality -- her "I'm so stressed out, will graduation never come???" personality, and her "Winter break, Spring break and Summer break" personality. It is surprising what is required in the upper level classes at the University. It is almost not humanly possible for her to get everything done and keep up with work too. If she can survive 8 more days, we will see her calm and delightful personality return.
It's nearly midnight and the craziness of another week begins in about 6 hours. I'd better get to bed.