Upper Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a famous slot canyon on the Navajo land near Page, AZ.  You must hire a guide to see the canyons since a flash flood in 1997 killed eleven tourist.  Needless to say we were monitoring the weather closely.  The rare overcast sky made me a little nervous, but there was no forecast for rain anywhere around.
 It really is one of those places that is better in person than in pictures.  
 We didn't have the sun out, so did not get to see the classic shot of the sunbeam shining down but the colors were still amazing with overcast skies.  
 I can only imagine on full sun day.  Max has a really nice camera on his phone and was able to get this picture, which is more what it looks like in person.
 We enjoyed the rough jeep ride out to the canyon and the educational tour provided by our Navajo guide.
 We were at a lower tourism time.  It would be terrible with more people and sweltering heat.  It was a very beautiful place, the masses of people are the only thing that took away from its beauty.
Off for more red rock in Moab!

Horseshoe Bend

For spring break we drove to Moab, Utah.  Along the way we stopped at Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.
They were both stunning.  Can you see tiny Max at the base?
We had a lot of fun goofing around at Horseshoe Bend.
 Max looks like the Cliff Bar guy!
 I love hanging out with my crew. :)
Everyone had to try it.
 We all realized just how much hand strength rock climbers have.
It also became clear why you typically don't see a tall and really muscular climber, the more you weigh, the harder it is!
 Hank could hang on the longest.  He decided to climb up and work on his  GQ portfolio.
 We had a really fun morning being silly together.
 We then headed to Upper Antelope Canyon.  We had an hour to wait before our tour and decided to have a Jeep roof top picnic lunch.
Much better than a picnic bench!

Laguna Laps 2018

I know the end of the year is near when it is Laguna Laps time!  This is our 7th year doing a fun run for  Laguna.
 Hank ran 40 plus laps to earn money for his school.  I always bribe him with an shaved ice treat if he completes all his laps.  This was the first year he didn't want me to run with him, instead I marked off laps as they ran by.  He is growing up so fast.  I can't believe we only have one Laguna Laps run left.

Happy 41st Birthday Max!

 Happy Birthday Max!
You bring the fun to our family and are the rock we can count on!  With you  by my side I have the courage to do anything.  I am so lucky to celebrate another year with my best friend and watch you be an amazing dad.  I love you and can't wait for new adventures with you this year.
Luckily only Hank had lacrosse on Max's birthday, so he was able to have a nice breakfast with all of us and then take the ladies out to the old ball game.  They went to SF Giants spring training game while Hank and I drove nearly to Tucson for his lacrosse matches. 
 Hank promised to score a goal for Max and he scored two in the final minutes of the game!  When we got home we grilled and Max wanted his birthday pie in the hot tub.  It think that is a first for us!  We have done pizza by the pool many times but never pie in the pool. :)
At least we could extinguish the fire that occurs with all those candles!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

We always have fun celebrating Dr. Seuss' Birthday.  Who doesn't want an excuse to eat green eggs and ham??
I had fun making Cat in the Hat fruit shish kabobs and Hailey helped me draw the Lorax cuties.  Add some One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, or Goldfish and it was Dr. Seuss kinda lunch.

Palm Springs

Max had to go to Palm Springs to teach a course and I was lucky enough to get to go along because Pops and Nana were able to babysit the kids!
Max would teach for a segment of the day and then have the rest of the time off, so it was like a mini three  day vacation.
 One morning while Max worked I decided to do a hike near our hotel.  If you know me, then you also know I can't find my way out of paper bag.  If I think we should go left, we definitely need to go right.  So hiking on a new path without a map might not have been the best idea, but it was suppose to be a well populated trail.  Maybe not so populated on a cool, Thursday morning.  To make a really long story short, I got lost and ended up just scaling up the mountain off trail.  I figured if I got to the top I would eventually find the trail and as long as the hotel was in my sight line, I couldn't be too lost.  I eventually made it to the top where the elderly couple I had a nice long chat with at the start of the trail were resting (that is how long it took me and how lost I was).  They laughed as they saw me come up the wrong side since I had warned them how I tend to get lost easily and joked if they saw a helicopter it would be looking for me.  They pointed me in the direction of the trail and I decided to take a new path back to town.  Again wondering half way along the trail down if it was a good idea to take a new route.  Ultimately I made it back to the hotel, but I turned a quick 2 mile hike into a long, adventurous 5 mile hike. :)  Moral of the story, don't hike with Katie!
 In the afternoons Max and I enjoyed the roof top bar and pool of the Rowan.  The view of the mountains was breath taking.  One night we also got to get all dressed up for a faculty dinner at a fine French restaurant.  The service was truly unlike anywhere else I have been.  They were so good you didn't even know they were there.

Max wanted to do the Cactus to Clouds hike which starts in Palm Springs and goes up to the San Jacinto Peak with 10,400 elevation gain.  I was more in the mood for mimosas and a relaxing four mile hike.   We started it and decided to put it on our bucket list.  It is one of the greatest elevation increase of any day-hike in the US!  This trip was not the trip to tackle it.  One we didn't have the time and two we didn't have the gear or clothing.  At the top it was freezing temperatures.  It sounds like a perfect hike to do in the middle of summer.
Another really fun part of the trip was our Canadian friends were also there for the course.  These two know how to have a good time!  Monique and I got to spend an afternoon lounging by the pool while the boys worked.  It was fun to have friends on vacation too.
Palm Springs is a beautiful little town with so many restaurants, shopping and hikes calling you.  I know we will be back again, hopefully in the summer to tackle Cactus to Clouds.

Valentine's Day

Max certainly gets better with age!  Since he was going to be on-call for Valentine's Day he surprised me on the Friday night before with a date to Orange Sky.  He came home with a dozen roses and my favorite sparkling wine.  The restaurant is at the top fo the casino and has private dining booths that face a floor to ceiling window.  He timed our reservation so we watched the sunset over Camelback Mountain.  It was very romantic and the food was delicious.  He is usually not one for the "commercial holidays" so he really surprised me.
 I on the other hand am all about commercial holidays!  Give me a theme and I go a little nuts.
The dollar store makes it too easy to get sweet treats for my loves!
 It was hearts all day.  Starting with heart egg sandwiches and cupid's eggs made by Max.
While I made heart pancakes for the eggless eaters.
Heart shaped pizza for Hank's lunch.
 Heart shaped turkey and ham for the girls with as much red produce I could find.
 It happened to be a half day so the kids and I got to get all snuggled up and watch one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride.
 It was the best! At first Hank did not want to watch it but soon became enraptured just as the boy in the movie had become with the story his grandfather told.
Even Siri got in on the snuggles.
 More love at dinner with crab, heart shaped pasta, and artichokes.
 We were so happy Max made it home in time for our fancy feast!
Chocolate dipped strawberries to finish off a delicious day of love.
 Of all the things I hope my kids remember about Valentine's Day I hope it is Love.  Love is what sets us apart.

 If each day we strive to be love, what a difference it makes in our lives and the lives of those around us.

February Fun!

February was filled with many celebrations and fun!
We kicked off the month with what is becoming a tradition as this is our third year attending a concert at the Phoenix Open Waste Management Bird's Nest.  It is always so much fun to go to a country concert at this venue.  We watched Florida Georgia Line and had a lot of fun for a school night!
 I am so blessed to still have a grandfather living.  Unfortunately he battled the flu and pneumonia and was hospitalized twice in February.  I was able to go visit him a lot.  I knew he was getting better the day we spent 3 hours puzzling!  He is now healthy and stronger than even before he got ill!
It was such a busy month by the end of the day we were all beary tired!
Karlie had a tournament all but one weekend in February.  That made for a lot of time goofing of with her teammates when they were not on the court.
I have tired to keep up with the National Days but fell a day behind on National Carrot Cake day!  The days just seem to fly by.
In the same week we celebrated Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year!  It was almost too much even for me, the celebration queen.  :)  Karlie got the baby this year!
Hailey and Karlie headed to Youth Camp in the mountains on Chinese New Year, so I packed them with fortune cookies and pocky sticks.  We ordered Panda Express and added some Hank safe sides.  The year of the dog is Kaitlin's year.  Those born in dog year are "loyal and honest, who work well with others.  Generous yet stubborn and often selfish."  I would say all are true of Kaitlin except the selfish part.  She is one of the most giving kids I know.
Sometimes adventure calls so loud it checks your high schooler out of school to go chase the clouds.  Hailey has always wanted to hike into the clouds.  One day as she drove to school she sadly wished we could hike on this rarely low lying cloud day.  So I told her I was packing her some hiking clothes and coming to get her!  We did a 4 mile hike.  Unfortunately the clouds kept moving up and we didn't reach them.  I had limited time because I had to go pick up Karlie's best friend from Colorado who was coming to town for a soccer tournament.  I became panicked when we took a "short cut" back and it seemed we were getting further and further away!  Hailey was calm and cool and we ran the whole way back to be sure I would be on time.  Her youth and strong spirit showed as she raced downed the mountain with me trying my best to keep up with her.  We didn't reach the clouds this time but it just gives us another chance to reach for them.  As mom this time with her was heavenly.
After getting Marley from the airport we headed to our favorite breakfast spot.  I was starving!!  Then I took the girls to an escape the room at Lock Down.  These two clever ladies did it!  They got out with time to spare.  I love seeing these girls together.  It amazes me that they can go a year without seeing each other and its like nothing changed.  Not many people can connect with their kindergarten best friend and still get together without any awkwardness-especially as middle schoolers.  These two were making plans for a southwest college tour together and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens.
We even managed to go off roading one Sunday.  Boys and their toys!  Max was so thrilled to play with the Jeep.
It seemed we packed in two month of activities and still had week to go before March Madness!