Monday, 28 December 2009

Hooked on Phoenix


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I would love to live in a city with a mountain in the middle!
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Yesterday Keith took us to hike Camelback Mountain. I don't know exactly when I got so outdoors-y (the last 10 years , I guess), but I think this will be the highlight of the trip for me!
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It was a gorgeous hike. The day was nice and cool, perfect for working so hard hiking to the summit.
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Here is most of the hiking crew. Keith and I will remember we were there to.
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Close to the trail head we found a 'cave'. We found several more along the trail, but much to Chloe's dismay we didn't stop and take a picture in each of them.
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We had some disparity in our hiking abilities. The whole thing (up, over, down the other side) took us 4 hours as a group. Steven would have liked to have done it twice as fast. Jaclyn could have done it at Steven's pace, but was happier about staying back and helping the smaller hikers.
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We had no idea that the hike would be so challenging. There was lots of scrambling, very little trail. It was tough. And Chloe did it in Crocs because we didn't bring her runners. Her footwear choices for the hike were snow boots or Crocs. We felt a little judged by other hikers on the trail (Ken overheard comments) but Chloe didn't suffer. In fact she sang and danced all the way down from the summit.
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This fence was probably to keep houses below safe from falling rock - and the rail was to help you up and down (that's Jaclyn in the green scaling right up the middle with no aid from the rail). While we scaled this part of the mountain, I figured it was probably the hardest part of the hike, but the bouldering near the top was actually more difficult.
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Here are the Summiteers (Ken and I will remember we were there.) From the top, the kids and I hiked down the other side while Ken turned around to return to the car so that he could pick us up from the other trail head.
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(Eventually.)
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(Since it turned out that I had the car keys with me in my pack.)
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(Oops.)
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Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas (American Style)

Steven and Ken dragged Keith out on Christmas Eve Day to try something new. Not a traditional Christmas event for Keith, but probably an impossible Canadian Christmas Event:



They just walked into a gun club and asked to try out a machine gun and a handgun. The 'machine gun guy' was busy so the girl at the counter handed them a handgun and ammo (and no further instructions) until the MP5 guy was available.



Thanks to Keith's i-phone we have documentation of this festive event. It was some good male-bonding fun complete with people-shaped targets on zip lines out to the distance you choose and then back again to see where the holes are. For some crazy reason I didn't think these things exist outside of the movies. (American movies) (kidding, not criticizing)



When evening came we settled into some more familiar Christmas territory: Sleepy Soup with Christmas Crackers (thus the crowns) to add some Canadian Flavour.


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Christmas crackers pop like a cap gun and are a little scary for the first time.



Dads are brave enough to pop them all by themselves!


After dinner we went to the Mesa Temple to see the Christmas lights.


Jaclyn


Emerson & Chloe



All the kids.



The earliest Christmas wake-up time was decided to be 7am (Keith had opened the bidding with 6am) but the kids slept till around 7:30 - hooray!



I'm so happy to have finally captured an image of the yessss fist.


The rest of the day we lazed around and did whatever we wanted.


Including continuing the spirit of the previous day by playing Modern Warfare 2 on PS3.


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Kelly planned probably the prettiest Christmas dinner I've ever seen with a Christmas salad (those are pomegranates), mashed potatoes, oatmeal pan bread, asparagus wrapped in marscapone and prosciutto, glazed ham, and mustard sauce. The flavors blended together perfectly and we all needed a rest from eating before we could eat both the almond-citrus tart and the pear-dark chocolate cake.
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I may never leave.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Greetings from Arizona


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(I'm not even kidding.)
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Ken gave in and bought a new winter coat as he has been the front line for jobs like brushing snow off the car in the morning.
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But let me back up. We left Calgary on the 18th and spent the night in Lethbridge. After a breakfast of pancakes we headed to Idaho and enjoyed dry roads all the way to Idaho Falls. We crashed at the Thomsons and had a fun evening with 3rd cousins - Jaclyn and Steven finally got to watch Strange Brew. Ken and I had thus far failed them in immersing them in Canadian culture, we're glad our American relatives corrected us. (Eh.)
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Monday morning we woke up in Provo. We'd booked a tour of BYU for Jaclyn which Ken wanted to be the parent for, so I stayed back at the hotel. All I asked is that Ken get a picture of Jaclyn on the tour. (I may have begged.) This is what I got:
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But I'm over it. Totally.
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Monday afternoon we headed east to Moab. Ken has done a lot of slick rock biking in Moab with his friends and the rest of us were excited to see the area. The forecast was for colder temperatures so we left our bikes at home and planned to do some hiking in Arches National Park.
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When we pulled into town our first stop was Poison Spider Bicycles. In a conversation with the guy behind the counter Ken found out that snow was in the forecast for the next day. It was already late in the afternoon and we didn't have much sunlight left, but we immediately turned around and drove up to Arches.
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It was gorgeous. And when the snowstorm blew in and kept us indoors the next day we were so glad that we seized the day and explored what we could while we could.
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We had planned on spending 2 nights in Moab (if the weather had only been slightly better) but with a blizzard we traded in our 2 nights x 3 beds for 1 night x 2 rooms with 3 beds each. Everyone had their own beds, even Ken and I. Ken shared with Jaclyn and Steven who stay up late while I shared with Carmen and Chloe. My room got 12 full hours of sleep! Now this was starting to feel like a holiday.
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We continued to pull the snow south with us to Holbrook and spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express. There is such a comfort in national chains when you are on the road. Hampton, Holiday Inn, McDonalds. And I don't eat at McDonalds at home! But I sure like their breakfast parfaits when I'm on the road. Oh, the Bowen Motel in Moab wasn't a chain. I forgot to mention what a good sport I am staying in the cheap motel the biking brothers use when they aren't camping in Moab. I'm a real champ.
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Our snow tires were well used far past Holbrook. The kids could probably tell you where - they were constantly passing the atlas around and studying our progress. I took video of our drive, but I can't load it onto Ken's work laptop but I have video of 10 seconds of the worst roads we saw in 1800 miles, just north of the Arizona border.
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Now, Ken loves a road trip and Salt River Canyon was exactly the kind of of experience that makes us glad to drive rather than fly. It was breathtaking. Carmen says it reminds her of Peru (at least pictures of Peru) and Steven says that it looks just like the Mediterranean race in some sort of car-racing X-Box game he owns (I know, I'm so in touch with Steven's gaming.)
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I'm sorry to all my friends in the Phoenix area that I failed to bring them a white Christmas. We tried so hard and came so close. The cacti welcomed us in, and now we are enjoying the sun we hoped for from this holiday. I went for a run this morning! Why oh why do I have to wait for retirement before I can be a snowbird?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Silk & Organza Necklaces

I have a couple of friends who celebrate birthdays tomorrow, and this year I knew just what I wanted to give them: Fabric covered necklaces as seen on You Can Make This.



For Christy: red silk with an organza flower.

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For Tania: larger beads covered in champagne silk.
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And a bonus for me: small grey velvet beads covered in sheer navy organza.

I loved how they turned out and made copies of the *Christy* and the *Tania* for myself, but somehow I'm going to have to suppress an urge to apologize for them when the gifts are opened. It has been a long time since I gave a hand-made gift, and I had forgotten about the insecurities that sometimes are coupled with giving something I've created.

As for the tutorial, just a couple of notes:

  • Haven't the fabric world and the fashion world always gone hand in hand?
  • I think Kim, the expert in the video, looks like Marie Osmond. But you won't now that I've mentioned it.
  • I don't think any fabric will do, I think you have to use fancy fabric.
  • She says to use a fabric width of 45" but she really means 60". Trust me, 45" won't be long enough.
  • Place your first bead in the very center, not to the side of the pin which is in the center. Still use a pin to secure one side of the first bead, but not until after you've placed the bead.
  • I knotted the unfinished ends at the edge of the selvage - I liked that look better than sewing the ends closed.
  • I gathered the wired ribbon from both ends and then wired the organza ribbon flower on to the necklace with the raw wire pulled outside the flower so that it is fastened well, but can be removed.
  • A totally worthwhile project!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Practise is Serious Stuff

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Carmen and Chloe sang When Joseph Went to Bethlehem in Sacrament Meeting today. We can't bring recording devices in to church, but here is a practise from earlier this morning. The real performance was improved by sincere smiles throughout the piece (and a little giggle from Chloe) as they stood before the congregation, thanks to a cute 2-year-old who called and waved to them from where he was sitting with his parents. (Thanks, Peyton!)

Then, when they went to their children's meetings, Chloe presented Sharing Time to the rest of the Junior Primary children. She asked to do it for about a month until the Primary President agreed to help Chloe teach the rest of the children as a Faith in God goal. (I fear the initials CEO have made a deeper impression on our baby than we ever intended!)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Growing Pains

I have an advent calendar that I fill every year with daily family Christmas activities. I started the tradition for fun, but found that it was more than fun - it brought us together to enjoy the season. Or at least it used to.
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On Saturday the advent activity was to make and decorate sugar cookies. Steven opted out and went to a friend's house to play video games; Jaclyn wasn't in the mood to do something messy.
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I didn't mind - the big kids are generally really good about doing family things and little kid things - they could skip the cookies. The little girls and I went ahead with the baking and I thought we were having a good time until Chloe expressed that it is more fun with everyone. Darn.
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A few days later at breakfast time it was Steven's day to open the calendar but he wasn't downstairs yet and Chloe was impatiently waiting to see what fun we would do that day. Wanting to open the calendar herself, she told me that she didn't think Jaclyn and Steven should get turns to open the calendar anymore if they weren't going to do the activities.
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She had an alterior motive as well as a good point, but I argued that they have participated in some of the activities.
Her response: Still! (a favorite expression these days)
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Yesterday the activity was to go sledding. Jaclyn wasn't home from high school yet when we left for the hill, and Steven had his shoveling job to do, so once again it was just Carmen and Chloe (plus a friend).
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And this time no one missed the big kids at all.
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Friday, 4 December 2009

How I saved Christmas

(a true story)

I've been participating in an aerobics class at the church on Tuesday and Thursday mornings this fall. The instructor is one of the best in the city, but she does it for free as a service to anyone who wants to participate. It's whipped me into the best shape I've been in a long time.

Anyhow. Quite often the gym is too warm for me to work out comfortably, and I recently realized that the problem is that our ward chorister arrives at the building ahead of us and turns on the heat in the chapel while he practises the organ, which in turn also warms up the gym.

So this Thursday I walked into the chapel before aerobics started and turned the temperature to cold. I warned Darwin I was freezing him out, but he said he was finished anyways. Then, as I turned away to return to the gym he asked me if Jaclyn was ready for Sunday. (He was referring to her turn to play the organ in sacrament meeting.) I told him that Jaclyn never practises till Saturday, but then I added that maybe this week she should practise more so that she can play other Christmas hymns for prelude. He said, "Oh, I didn't assign her Christmas hymns. It's Fast and Testimony Sunday: I chose hymns centered on the Savior."

What? Despite the up-tempo music calling me back to the gym, I couldn't hold back. I told him that actually Christmas hymns are very centered on the Savior and that I thought he should change the program. I then back-pedalled and told him I wasn't trying to do his calling for him (even though clearly I was) and that I would mind my own business (even though clearly I wasn't). Well, he called me later that day with new hymns for Jaclyn to play - With Wondering Awe and O Little Town of Bethlehem. I apologized (insincerely) for meddling, and told him (with enthusiasm) how much I am looking forward to singing Christmas hymns this week.

Here's a new Christmas hymn the Young Women are singing in Sacrament meeting on the 20th:
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If I could save only one thing about Christmas it would be the music - nothing makes me feel the Spirit of Christmas more.