Friday, October 31, 2014

Camping Trip

Last weekend we went with Adam's parents up to Petite Jean Mountain to go camping and hiking. It was a perfect weekend for being outdoors, it was cool but not cold and beautifully sunny…it really was a fun time.

We enjoyed our big breakfast with bacon, sausage links, eggs and toast.  The kiddos had a great time looking for sticks and rocks and kept themselves thoroughly entertained by playing with the bungee chords and tying themselves to the trailer.
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After breakfast we headed for the hike. Honestly, there are several different trails to choose from, but the one we chose is pretty strenuous for little people.  We did the Cedar Falls Trail.   It's about a 2 mile hike down into the canyon where massive stone boulders and huge trees can be found all along the path.  You start out at the top and hike down into the canyon. This path doesn't let you "ease" into anything, it just starts right up in high gear and keeps giving unil you reach the bottom.
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The views were really beautiful!
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Poppy gave the boys a little pep talk and explained to them that they needed to walk and not run…they were totally pumped while Ava Jane took in the scenery around her.
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We let Emerson start off by walking and holding someone's hand which proved completely necessary every time he tripped and stumbled. The trail was beautiful, the trees were bright with fall foliage and really just stunning. We stopped for a nice long snack break as we took in the scene around us which consisted of me climbing all over the boulders following Emerson and the big boys so that I could keep my eyes on them. To say it was "breath taking" would mean that I was out of breath from climbing around after them and growing exhausted with Emerson's freedom of mobility. I did sit for a second and had a water break but we needed to get moving again pretty quick.
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At the end is a beautiful spot for pictures, where a tall water fall spills over into a small pond. The boys enjoyed climbing all over the rocks.  By the time we made it to the canyon floor, where the water fall is located, Mama here was more than insistent that he had to go into one of the hiking backpacks. I was tired of the drama of it all and thankfully he willingly rode on Daddy's back.

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It's always so nice to be out in nature and to see God's creativity and beauty up close. It truly was a perfect day for being outside.
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I love those boys.
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Poppy took the bullet for me for a while and let Ava Jane ride on his back; I was so thankful. The trek back up the hill was pretty intense so we were all grateful when we could finally see the lodge again. Being back at the top was lovely---for more reasons then just the obvious beauty!
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This was our home away from home, where we had good food, encouraging conversations and made new memories. The boys had a blast and honestly they all did really well. There were a few moments in the night where Ava Jane woke up from the barking dogs in the campsite and she began crawling around the tent, but usually crawled back up and laid with Adam or me. Surprisingly, it really went pretty well.
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I think the weekend was a complete success! Five days later and they're still asking to go back…maybe next year!
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mini Vaca: Scottsdale Part 2

On Monday, reality hit and Adam had to start his conference.
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To pass the time I decided to tour one of Frank Lloyd Wright's homes, Taliesin West. I have to say it was quite a bit more modern in its styling then I even realized it would be. The view from the home's sprawling 500 plus acres is spectacular, but I can't say that I loved the house.
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Our tour guide was an interesting fellow who knew quite a bit of trivia which I did enjoy learning.
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Frank Lloyd Wright began building this desert home in 1937 to be his personal winter home, studio, and eventual architectural campus. It's located in the Sonoran desert, in the foothills near Scottsdale. I learned that all the glass took 4-5 years to be brought out to the homesite so until it could be delivered, the house was really just a glorified tent because wherever the windows are now, they had to hang canvas. He was very big on nature and actually deified it. Apparently, every time you read any of his writings (and I say "apparently" because I've never read anything of his) he actually capitalizes "nature" because he equates it with God. That was of interest to me since he was the son of a Baptist minister and raised having heard about the one true God, though he did not seem to embrace that reality. He was very much influenced by Asian culture and had a lot of eastern decor throughout the home. Here is what the front of the house looks like.
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Frank Lloyd Wright was a well-to-do, influential man who had friends like "Harry", whom he called one afternoon when he looked out his front door view and was disgusted by all the high-line power poles that were being put into place as Scottsdale began to be populated. His friend "Harry" said, "Frank, I'm afraid we're dealing with a war right now and your power pole problems are of little interest to me". That's pretty "connected" if you can call the President of the United States your friend and you have a direct number to call him at the White House! Another interesting fact was that his son David Wright is the inventor of the childhood toy known as Lincoln Logs, which my kids still like to build with to this day.

There were many statues and bronze art out on the patio area that were done by students of the architectural school that is located on the premises.
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Taliesin West would not be a place I'd highly recommend as a "must see", though it was interesting and the views were beautiful.
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When I returned from my 90 minute tour I just hung out by the pool until Adam got out of his meeting.
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We were planning to go grab dinner but a very random, unexpected rain and lightening storm lasted for several hours, which NEVER happens in Arizona, so we just called in room service and watched a movie.
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Day 4-
Tuesday was my birthday so I enjoyed a chef cooked breakfast with Adam before he headed to his conference. Then I spent some time on the elliptical, went and showered and headed to my 60 minute massage. That was glorious and oh so enjoyable! I do not get them that often, to be exact, its almost been four years since my last one. And I am that crazy person who verified not once but twice (once on the phone and again when I arrived) that I did in fact have a female masseuse--for some reason I just get creeped out just thinking of having another man do my massage. Kathaleen was wonderful, a perfect combination of gentle yet firm.
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I left there with weak legs so I simply hung out by the pool and was able to finish two books I've been reading: Creative Correction (which has some really great ideas for discipline and ways to positively reinforce behavior) as well as finishing up Orphanology (which has been challenging and inspiring to consider ways we might help the Fatherless.) Doesn't this look like an easy place to relax?
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The trip to Scottsdale was really such a blessing and I could not have enjoyed my time away if I was worried about the kids. Thankfully, they were with my in-laws and parents who held down the fort and lovingly stepped into my routine with willingness and care so that I could enjoy my time with this wonderful man. We really enjoyed our time together!
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Mom, Dad, Bill and Donna- thanks so much for giving me the best birthday present of all, just a little bit of time. I think being able to relax for a few days gave me renewed love and desire to come back to reality.  I was excited to wake up and see my kiddos!  Oh how I love these sweet faces especially Ava Jane's bed head.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mini Vaca: Scottsdale Part 1

Adam had a Healthcare Executives course that he needed to go to that just so happened to fall over my birthday so we decided to turn it into a mini vacation and go out a few days before the conference started.   I'd never been to Arizona so the scenery was all new to me.   It's always fun to get away with him and see and experience new things.

Once we landed, we caught a taxi to the resort and got checked in. We grabbed a bite to eat in Old Town Scottsdale (which is so quaint and lovely) then changed clothes to go do a hike. We climbed Camelback Mountain.  I had done a little research and had seen reviews like: "I've climbed Echo Canyon trail and Cholla trail over 100 times and they never disappoint", "there are large portions of the hike when you are using hands and feet to climb" and "it's a bit of a challenge, be prepared for some rock climbing closer to the top." I thought to myself, how bad could it be?  I told Adam, but we were both up for the challenge and were excited to see the views from the top.  It was spectacular and beautiful, the first 2/3's of the way I was thinking, "what's the big deal?" Then we hit the rock climbing portion, we went up a little ways, but this little Mama was D.O.N.E! We did enjoy the views.   It was quite a contrast to see the dessert, arid surroundings then to see a lush green golf course all from the same spot.
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I was stunned by how large the cactuses are, I don't know why I didn't expect that?  But the only cactuses that I recall seeing in person are the indoor potted plants that some people set out in their home.  So the grand scale of them was quite amazing!
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It was a nice hike, we enjoyed the time spent together talking and taking in the scenery.
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There were cactuses of all colors, shapes and sizes. And we saw cottontail rabbits and plenty of lizards. There were warning signs all over the place to watch out for Rattlesnakes, thankfully we didn't get to see one of those unclose; I think that would have sent me right up over the edge!
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The reviews of this hike were right, it is no joke. It was hot and steep and really rocky toward the top, but the views were great! It was pretty crazy how the mountain was literally right in the middle of town, with million dollar homes built all around it.
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This looked like a nice spot to take a rest.  See what I mean? One side of the mountain looked arid and desert-like with its red rocks and cactuses and the other side was this lush golf course resort.  It was pretty fascinating!
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And apparently, just like Little Rock got a lot of rain fall this summer, so did Arizona.  There were flowers blooming out of many of the prickly plant life, and it was really pretty to observe.  God's creativity and artistic nature is always fun to see and experience.
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Day Two-
We woke up at a leisurely pace and grabbed a bite of breakfast before heading out to a day on the links. Adam has always wanted to play golf in a desert-like environment so that's what we did. We didn't realize it when we were climbing the mountain, but the golf course that we had seen was actually the course that he had made a reservation at, so that was neat to have been able to see it from an "arial" view as well as to be playing on it.
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With Adam, there's always a good warm-up/stretching routine so I had to capture this. He's methodical and a lover of routine so he did it all: hip rotations, knee bends ("that gets the synovial fluid going") and of course arm circles and stretches.  I must say, I'm not an avid watcher of golf but I do believe he played pretty well, so maybe all that routine of his paid off.
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It was really just so pleasant to be in such a lovely setting with my best friend.  Driving around in the cart, looking at the houses and beautiful surroundings (with no whining or complaining to listen to) was a real treat!
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I enjoyed my day date with this man.
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