Monday, May 23, 2011

Jordan at 14

On her actual birthday we didn't do too was a wednesday so she had homework to do. She didn't realize I was taking this photo.

Then she heard the 'click' and looked up and smiled...becuase she's so good like that.

Then she thought I was done and went back to her work. 'Click.'

Then she growled at me. 'Click.'

Then she said, "really?" 'Click.'

Then I was done.

Jensen's First Communion

I just thought I'd put a quick thing up here with the few photos I have from Jensen's first communion. Kaity took most of the photos of the day but these are a couple I had on my camera.

It was a beautiful day and we were so happy that Denise and Kaity were here to share it all with us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break 2011

We had a busy week of travel to Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas. We did a ton and had a great time!

I'm going to start out this post with the absolute best photo of the week:

This next one might be our Christmas card photo for this year:

We flew from Houston to Phoenix on Monday night...usually we take early morning flights, but because we used miles we had limited selection and ended up with a flight at 8:00 p.m. I have to say I loved it! I had the whole day to get things packed up, Bella to the kennel, house cleaned up, etc. I was a lot less stressed than I usually am the night before one of our 7:00 a.m. flights! Might do it this way more often.

There are times when I'm grateful for personal electronic devices. Waiting for a flight is one of them.

We stayed at a cool hotel in Phoenix, The Buttes Marriott. Part of it was built into the side of a hill. This was our view:

Surprise! On Tuesday, we were able to have lunch with Tom and Cindi!

After lunch, we went to a spring training baseball game...Texas Rangers vs. LA Dodgers. We figured there's only a few places you can see a spring training game, so we should do it while we're there. Let me just say was hot. Mid march and already 90 degrees.

Don't they look happy?

Lemonade and daddy's sunglasses makes it all better.

Funny story...when we checked into the marriott Monday night they had messed up our reservation. With the kids getting bigger it's harder for us all to fit in one hotel room so we had reserved two rooms and requested them connecting or at the least, next to each other. Well, they didn't even have two rooms on the same floor to give us. They told us to come back down the next morning and they'd get it set up how it should be. The next morning they offered us several options, one being the Presidential Suite. This was basically a huge living room area with several sofas, chairs, large dining table, etc. plus one bedroom with king bed and one bathroom. They were going to put roll away beds in the living room area for the kids. All this would have been fine except for the huge wall of windows that faced east that had no curtains or shades. The morning sun just blasted in. In addition, only one bathroom means longer lines for the shower. So, basically I turned that option down and we ended up with a Junior suite for the kids and a regular room for jim and I. Which was still better than any room the kids had stayed in up to that point. Well, Jim decided to tell the kids that they could have stayed in the Presidential Suite but mom said "no." Jackson was mad about that the rest of the stay! So, to commemmorate the story here's a photo of sad Jackson standing outside the doors of the Presidential Suite.

We were able to see my mom both nights we were in Phoenix. One night we went to Rawhide (faux) Western Town. They had gun fight shows, a stagecoach to ride, a mechanical bull, and a steakhouse to eat dinner. It was a little hokey but they kids enjoyed it.

The weather was so nice in Phoenix we spent one afternoon just hanging around the pool at the hotel.

On Thursday morning we left Phoenix early and headed toward the Grand Canyon. We stopped about halfway in Sedona and took an off road jeep tour on Tom and Cindi's recommendation. The kids loved it!

Some friends of ours from Kingwood were also "spring breaking" in the area so we met them for lunch. This was especially fun for Jensen since their daughter is one of her good friends.

After our day in Sedona we continued on up to the Grand Canyon and checked into our lodge in the park. That night we couldn't see or do much becuase we got there so late but we got up early the next morning for a scenic airplane flight over the canyon. This was really an awesome experience. I'm glad we did this first thing since it really gave you more of an idea of the scope of the canyon. Of course, 10 minutes into the flight Jensen was curled up in a ball fast asleep. $100 down the drain...

After our flight we decided to do a little hiking. I don't know if you know this, but there are no railings, or safety measures of any kind really, on the hiking trails down into the canyon. This was not good for me. Because have you met Jackson? Or Jordan? Or Jensen? So after a brief stint as a family hiking down the Bright Angel trail, which was still littered with ice in many places, and watching three people, one of whom was Jordan, slip and fall on the ice mere inches from the edge of certain death, the girls and I turned back and left the boys to their own devices.

Do you see how the sign says "icy trail, crampons recommended"? We didn't have crampons...whatever they are.

The girls and I decided to walk along the Rim Trail instead. This trail is about 7 miles in length and we walked about 3 miles of it. When we got tired (which was at about mile 1 for Jensen but Jordan and I kept pulling her along) we hopped on a shuttle bus back to our starting point. Jim and Jackson hiked down about 1 1/2 miles and then back up so I say we're even.

That night we tried to go view a famous grand canyon sunset but it was a little cloudy and sun was totally blocked out at the horizon. Oh well...maybe next time.

The next morning we realized we hadn't gotten any photos of the 5 of us together at the grand canyon so we headed out to find someone to take one for us.

After that we started on our drive to Vegas, baby!

We stayed at a new hotel called The Cosmopolitan. It was modern and very nice. I really liked it, but I think the kids would have preferred one of the theme hotels like new york, new york or Treasure Island.

The first night we saw The Blue Man Group. All three kids really liked it.

The next day we met another friend of ours from Kingwood for brunch at our hotel. the brunch buffet was awesome and we all stuffed ourselves...they had everything from typical brunch food to fried chicken to sushi...

After brunch we walked around the strip visiting some of the more kid-friendly attractions...the M&Ms store, the lion habitat at MGM Grand, the roller coaster at New York, New York with the last stop being the Stratosphere to ride some crazy contraption called X-Scream. At the top of a 107 story observation tower there is this ride where you get in the car and it basically dangles you over the side of the tower. Here's a photo from the web...I didn't take one.

The girls and I said "no thanks," but Jim and Jackson bought a ticket. We got up there and it was extremely windy and cold. At the last minute Jackson came to his senses and told Jim he changed his mind and didn't want to ride. So that was the end of that.

We made it back to our hotel and got ready to go to dinner and see David Copperfield. That show was pretty good and the kids particularly enjoyed when I was part of a group of audience members that he made disappear.

Here is the nightime view of the strip from our hotel room.

The next morning we had to be on the road early for our 5 hour drive back to phoenix to catch our flight home.

It was a great week!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2010 Recap Part 2 - San Diego

When we go on a trip I take a T-O-N of pictures. And I have a hard time consolidating these down for my chronological highlights folders so I keep my trip/vacation pictures in their own seperate folders and upload and print those seprately. In March we went to San Diego for spring break. Jim had to be there that week for work so the kids and I hopped a plane and met him out there. He had to work the first daybut after that he was on vacation. I had never been and I loved it! It was unbelievably sunny and beautiful every single day we were there. The only time we encountered clouds even was one late afternoon we went out to Coronado Island and it was overcast and windy. Other than that, sun and blue skies.

We did every touristy thing we could think of while we were there. Here's the photographic recap.

First stop Hard Rock Cafe for lunch while Jim worked.

The next day Jim was done with his work stuff so the vacationing started in earnest. We decided to tour the aircraft carrier USS Midway. I really thought we'd be there an hour tops...that the 3Js would get bored and we'd go do something else. Well, it turns out they loved it and didn't want to leave. We were there at least 3 or 4 hours...long past the time I was ready to go!

When we had seen all we could see we decided to go on a harbor cruise. We got this shot of the Midway from the harbor.

And this shot of the 3Js.

The next day we headed out to the world famous San Diego Zoo.

We loved the whole zoo but one of the coolest things was being able to see the Giant Pandas. We waited in line for a while because they limit the number of people going through the exhibit at any one time. They asked that you be quiet as you walk through so as not to disturb them too much. There was a baby panda asleep in a hammock. The mom walked out of her interior space straight toward us then proceeded to sit down with her back to us and munch on some bamboo. She sat that way the rest of the time we were in the exhibit.

The zoo was huge and we explored every inch of it. There are lots of elevated walkways so you can see down into exhibits. I haven't been to another zoo quite like this one. We loved it and had a great day!

After the zoo, we decided to take a drive over to Coronado Island. As you can tell from the above photo it was nice and sunny when we left the zoo, but by the time we got over to the island it had clouded over and was cool and windy. The kids played around on the beach for a little bit and I snapped a few photos but got too cold and went to wait in the car for them. This was the only bit of inclement weather we had on our entire trip.

I'll recap the rest of our trip in another post...not sure how many photos I can include in one post. I feel I might be stretching the boundaries with this one.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First 2 Weeks of 2011

One of the reasons I want to try to keep up with my blog this year is to help make it easier to complete a "Project Life" album...similar to Project 365 (which is an album with a picture a day) but without the stress of having to take a picture a day. So, with that said, I thought I'd post about the events of the first two weeks of this year.

We started out 2011 celebrating the new year with a great group of friends at the Hyler's new house.

I finally got my christmas cards sent out on January 5th!

A new thing I did this year was to put all the photos we had gotten in Christmas cards on the back door leading out to the garage. I love being able to see all these smiling faces of friends and family every time we leave the house. I still have them all it so much I don't want to take it down!

Here's Bella enjoying one of the blankets Tom and Cindi sent the kids for
Christmas. Don't worry...the kids have enjoyed them too!

On January 8th the kids and I drove to Austin so we could watch Jordan's Blue Tide team mates swim at a swim meet at the University of Texas. Jordan was supposed to be swimming as well, but due to her injured back/kidney she wasn't able to swim. She was so dissapointed about not being able to swim that we decided to go anyway so she could watch. Jim didn't come with us because he had been out of town and didn't get home until about 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning and had to be on a flight back out on Sunday afternoon.

Jordan took those pictures of us on the car ride. Jensen is comfy in the back with her new American Girl doll she got for Christmas and enjoying the new iPad. That thing is awesome! Judging by Jackson's hair he looks like he just woke up from a little nap. We were on the road pretty early and the kids all immediately fell asleep when we got in the car!

The natatorium at UT was pretty impressive. They have three 25 meter pools. They were running events in two of them simultaneously and using the third for warm up and warm down laps.

These are some of Jordan's swim buddies...Haley Harper and Chloe Hoover. We went to the team lunch at Spaghetti Warehouse on Saturday after the girls got done swimming.

No road trip would be complete without a stop at Bucees. We picked up a pound of beef jerky and some Beaver Nuggets and were back on the road to home as happy as could be!

Jim was on his way back to Toronto before we got home Sunday. Later in the week he emailed us this picture of what he was enduring way up north.

The week ended on a sad note. Jackson had a boy scout campout this past weekend and Jim went as well as a volunteer.

The campsite was not too far, only about an hour drive away. They left early Saturday morning, around 5:30 because the younger scouts had to go on a 5 mile hike as a requirement for their next rank advancement and the hike was to start at 7:00 a.m. I don't know if you can tell from the picture but it was rainy that morning and continued to rain and be miserable all weekend. One of the older scouts was to lead the boys on the hike. He was a junior in high school and driving himself to the campout when he lost control of his car and hit a fence. A board from the fence went through his windshield and killed him.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about that boys' parents. They probably never dreamed as they were sending him off on a wholesome activity like a boy scout campout, that that would be the last time they would see him. I keep thinking if it had been me, I'd have been grateful that my child could drive himself up there while I stayed snuggled in my bed on an early, rainy saturday morning. Life as we know it could change at any instant.

Jim, Jordan, Jackson, Jensen I love each of you. I keep this blog for myself, but also for all of you so that if life as we know it ever changed you would know how much you mean to me.