Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Weekend in AZ

Meezy and I took a quick trip to Arizona to see the sights and attend an NFL game. His favorite team is the 49ers, so this is our third time traveling around the country to see them in action. We started the trip with a visit to the Grand Canyon. We stayed at Yavapai Lodge East on the South Rim. It's no Four Seasons, but the location can't be beat. When we checked in, we were the only dummies wearing short sleeves and flip flops. We did not anticipate the temperature change! After putting on more appropriate attire, we were able to walk a trail along the South Rim just after sunset and enjoy the incredible views. After getting our exercise in, we drove a little ways to the Grand Canyon Village to get dinner at Plaza Bonita. The next morning, we were up by 6:30 and headed to the South Rim again to see the sun rising over the canyon. I walked a couple miles and Meezy ran a few in sub 40 degrees.

After that, we left the Grand Canyon and headed toward Sedona, stopping along the way at Foodie Club for breakfast. Since it was Saturday, the trails and shops were packed when we arrived in Sedona. We had originally planned to hike, but since it was so crowded, we decided to just check out the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It's built atop the red rocks and has great views. While you're up there, you can't miss the incredible estate owned by the person who invented the laser scalpel used during LASIK procedures.

The weather was fantastic, with clear skies and comfortable temps. If we hadn't come on a holiday weekend, I definitely would have wanted to spend more time in Sedona. From there we headed south to Phoenix. Our home for the next two nights was Renaissance Phoenix/Glendale Hotel & Spa. We chose this hotel because it was right across the street from the stadium. While in the lobby, I mentioned to Meezy that it looked like people were asking to take pictures with someone. We walked a little closer and he goes, "That's Frank Gore!" Being a life-long fan, Meezy had no problem recognizing a former 49ers player. That was a fun sighting! After getting settled in and eating, I headed over to the nearby outlet mall to look for some souvenirs for the kids. Can't come home empty-handed!

The next morning, we met up with our friends, Tory and Sam, who live in the Phoenix area. They had tickets to the game as well, so we grabbed brunch and then headed to the stadium. Our seats were fantastic! They were lower level on the 49ers side and we were surrounded by a bunch of other 49ers fans. Sam wore her Cardinals shirt though, so we had a friendly rivalry going. 

The game ended up being pretty exciting, even though the 49ers lost. It's always fun to watch a game in person and feel the excitement around you. It was also cool to visit a stadium we hadn't been to before. After the game we had dinner and drinks with our friends and told stories and laughed for a couple hours. That was our last night in AZ and it was a good way to end the trip!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Colorado Vacation 2021

 We were supposed to be in Europe on a huge family trip this June, but due to the restrictions still in place because of COVID, we cancelled that trip and instead chose something closer to home. We booked a flight into Denver and rented a car to drive to our ultimate destination, Breckenridge. Our flight departed super early on a Saturday morning, or should I say it was supposed to depart super early. We ended up sitting on the plane for about 3.5 hours while they waited for a fueler to arrive to "balance the fuel". It was such a beatdown. Thank goodness our kids are old enough to be entertained by Ipads, so they weren't bothered by the delay. The adults on the other hand were going mad (myself included). We were going to take the kids to a museum before starting our drive to Breckenridge, but the delay took that activity off the schedule. When we got to Denver, we took a shuttle to the rental car area and OMG the line was crazy. 

Thank goodness there were lots of employees on hand, so it didn't take a ridiculously long time. But, after we got our car, we realized we forgot to bring a booster seat for Jude. DOH! That meant our first stop was to Walmart to buy one. After that, we ate at a good vegan restaurant, Watercourse Foods, and then headed to Breckenridge. The house we rented was pretty sweet. My sister and her kids joined us on the trip, so we wanted a place large enough for all of us and that included access to a pool and hot tub. The balcony and views were a bonus.

Within short walking distance of our house was a wooded area with a nice stream. We did some hiking and took pictures and paid tribute to our friend Brandon who passed away last year. It was so nice to get outside and exercise and not be miserable from the usual high temperature and humidity of Dallas! The altitude definitely made us winded more quickly though. 

Our scheduled activity for the second day in Breckenridge was a visit to the Country Boy Mine. We set up a treasure hunt and gold panning session. The treasure hunt was pretty cool. It worked well for the ages of kids we had in our group (6-12) and even had some things the parents could help with. The gold panning was a hit and the kids loved the challenge of trying to find gold. There was also a tall slide there, which is always going to be a crowd favorite. 

Our house was within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and other places to explore, so we took every chance we got to see what the city offered. We also made a couple trips to the pool, of course.

Our main activity for the third day of the trip was a visit to Epic Discovery. We were all looking forward to this! It started with a gondola ride to the adventure park, followed by unlimited mini golf, alpine slide, goldrunner coaster, and the kids zone activities (bungee trampoline, ropes course, zipline). Unfortunately a few of the other activities had not been placed back in service yet, and those were the ones the adults would have enjoyed. Whomp, whomp. So, we didn't get much for the cost of our tickets, but the kids had a great time. 

It was time to head home on the fourth day, but our flight wasn't until later in the day, so we stopped at a cool playground and then took the kids to Boondocks, which has an arcade and some other fun attractions. Dutch loved the ropes course and impressed us with his bravery on the zip line and spinning barrel. 

The weather was gorgeous while we were there and I loved how much time we were able to spend comfortably outdoors. I'd definitely make another visit to Colorado in the future and recommend Breckenridge for families. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Goodbye, My Riley Roo

Well, this was an extremely tough loss. 16 years. How do you put into words what a 16-year friendship means to you? I got Riley from a pet store in Lubbock when I was living alone and wanted a companion for my last year in grad school. He had a big head and a tiny body and I was intrigued by the sign that said "Beagle/Corgi mix." Over the years he grew into his big head (and then some) because he never passed up an opportunity to eat. Didn't matter if the item in question was really edible or not - he would give it a shot. He had a tank for a stomach because crayons, toys, dryer sheets, wet wipes, and even a King-sized Toblerone bar were no match for him. Our exchange student Kim learned of his insatiable appetite when she left her bag on the floor one time. (He smelled gum). Our friend Mike saw his skills first hand when Riley jumped waist high to snag a cookie from him. My mom lost a bag of bird seed because Riley got hungry one day. Meezy would occasionally taunt Riley by holding food out of his reach, but overall Riley had a pretty good record against him, including snagging a whole Taco Bell burrito when Meezy got too cocky. If you've known me over the past 16 years, then you've probably known Riley (and his signature one ear up/one ear down look). He's been my shadow. I joke that if we put a pedometer on each of us, we'd have the same number of steps at the end of the day. I originally got him so that I wouldn't feel lonely, but I never could have imagined he'd spend 16 years making sure I wasn't. He was a GOOD, smart, mischievous, hungry, and above all else - loyal - friend. Rest in peace Riley (Bubba, Riley Roo, Rooster Dooster, Biggies, Ri Ri). You were one of a kind. March 2005 - February 2021

Dutch Turns Nine

We let Dutch invite his closest friends over for some outdoor fun to celebrate his birthday. It was a beautiful day and they played soccer most of the time. That was followed up with some Domino's pizza and an Oreo ice cream cake (two of Dutch's favorite things). We also brought him up to his school to get a video in front of the message board. Jude decided to sing happy birthday to him (his own rendition), which resulted in this hilarious exchange:

I can't buy or borrow books fast enough to keep up with his reading habits. He brings books to school so he can read if there's any down time. He stays up late every night reading in bed. He also loves Minecraft, riddles, anything chocolate, big homemade waffles, and walking home from school. He's a stereotypical big brother who teases and tricks his little brother into doing things for him. He LOVES his dog, Zoey.

Jude Turns Six

It was not an eventful birthday this time around thanks to a global pandemic, but luckily this kid doesn't need fanfare to enjoy himself. He's happy with donuts and just spending time together. There's definitely something special about him. He's the one who comes running when I say, "Look, there's a lizard!" He's the one who is already bringing food to his mouth before I have to say, "Just try it." He's the one who can put down the Ipad when a new puzzle or board game or Lego set is presented. He loves reading and excels at it. He loves his dog, Zoey, and mentions her in every school assignment he's allowed to. He uses big words and sometimes answers math problems faster than his big brother. He loves snuggly pajamas and cold pillows. He's also got a tender heart and gets his feelings hurt easily. He brings me happiness every single day. 

He started Kindergarten this school year, but only virtually for the first semester. For him, that meant getting all of his daily work completed in about an hour and then not having anything to do for the rest of the day. He's very advanced in reading and pretty advanced in math, so it's not like he was falling behind, but I didn't want him sitting idle for too long. I sent him to in-person starting in January and I think it's been great for him. 

He has fallen in love with Hamilton, the musical. He tries to memorize a lot of the lyrics and I often find him listening to it in his room. He's been known to wake up at 5am and sneak into the living room to start watching TV. He's willing to try new foods, but loves pizza, kolaches, and broccoli and cauliflower the best.

I think my favorite thing that he's said recently was "Someone at school today said 'Jude' and I answered, 'Depends. Who's asking?', like in Hamilton." That kid, man. Six going on sixteen.