Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Life Lately

Since Mother's Day...

I made buttermilk biscuits and thought of my nana.

I made chocolate chip scones and made my daughter happy.

I've loved on this sweet girl every moment I can.
{She had a trip to the vet yesterday where she was told to lay off the cookie dough and pizza}!

I've explored more mountains. This crazy cacti was growing in the Superstition Mountains, where I hiked up Siphon Draw to the Basin...with my partner in crime {Erma}. 

I've seen interesting critters, like this chuckwalla.

I've baked cupcakes and celebrated the end of little league!!

I also...

hosted a dozen 17 year olds for Randi's birthday party {which happened to also be Cade's last game}.
We had lots of food, an outdoor movie theater and a requested platter of beignets for dessert.

Took the kids to the ASU vs UofA baseball game with some fellow baseball families.
{Randi is liking ASU more and more}!

Celebrated Cade's last day of school. He is officially a 7th grader!!

Volunteered collecting text books at Randi's school.

Will celebrate Randi's last day of school on Friday and the officialness of Seniorhood!!

It's been a bit busy around here.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Weekend Wishes

{my mom and the two who made me a mom}

Happy Friday!!
Thank goodness it's the weekend and really thank goodness it is almost summer break!
{I'm over making lunches, schedules, homework, getting everyone up...}

This weekend will be a fun one!
Tonight I get get to see Rob Lowe with my sweet daughter and her friend. {They love him in Parks and Rec and I love him in everything from the 80's}.  It should be an interesting show...hopefully, he looks as dreamy in person as he does on the screen!

Tomorrow will be a busy day of setting up for a birthday party. Although Randi's birthday is at the end of the month, we are partying tomorrow night with her friends.  It will be a backyard party with lots of food, candy, beignets, popcorn, and an outdoor movie theater. 

As much as I am looking forward to the party, I'm bummed to miss Cade's play-off game tomorrow evening. He played so well the other night...pitching like a champ.  Fortunately, the score is kept live on an app, so I can see how we are between serving lots of 17 year olds!

Sunday...Mother's Day.
After I teach my cycle class, I will be indulging myself with a 90 minute massage, one hour facial, sugar and foot scrub...ahhhhh! The rest of the day will be spent lounging poolside and ordering to go from Pita Jungle.  

It has taken me lots of years, but I have learned to not make any elaborate plans for Mother's Day. I have cooked for everyone {I was exhausted},  gone out of town {I was ridden with guilt}, and done nothing {I actually did all my normal chores for the day...laundry, cooking, dishes, etc}. This year, we are not inviting anyone over. I'm doing my own thing for a few hours then I will hang with my loves. We are ordering take out, so I don't have to clean up anything. {Even when Mr. C cooks, I typically still clean...I have control issues}.  
To be honest, I'm not a fan of Mother's Day. Shouldn't we appreciate moms every day?! These holidays just add extra pressure.  {Actually, all holidays do}!  Let's just live. Live with hearts full of happiness and gratitude. 

I am, however, extremely grateful for my mom {on Mother's Day and every day}. 
She is one of a kind. 
Her strength, courage, and heart have guided me to become the mother I am. 

Here's to a weekend full of motherly love and guided hearts! Cheers!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Havasupai Heaven

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." - John Muir

Havasupai has been on my bucket list for a while now. Permits are not easy to come by, so I was a little turned off by the daunting task of obtaining them. But this year, this year I was determined! I began calling the permit office on February 1 {the day they release the golden tickets}. I called for two days and was able to secure two permits for two nights. {I actually got them during a brief window of online reservations. I believe they had too many glitches and took the site down}.

Lesson learned about booking: I think if you wait until after the first couple of weeks {of the season opening}, you can get reservations...if you are flexible. When we checked in to the office upon arriving in the village - they were taking phone reservations.

Mr. C hiked Havasupai when he was about 14 and was not interested in doing it again. {I don't know why!! I would do it again next week}! However,  I KNEW my brother would be all over it and I couldn't ask for a better backpacking partner. {His camping knowledge is definitely more extensive than mine}.  Plus, he prepared fabulous meals...ramen and veggies, couscous with pistachios, cinnamon and cardamom, bean and potato mash, and coffee! He made coffee each morning! We only prepared meals that could be done with boiling water. {He had a Jet amazing little contraption that boils 2 cups of water in 2 minutes}.

Several people had told us the 8 mile hike down to the village {campgrounds are an additional 2 miles} was not pretty...just a desert hike. Well, they were wrong. The hike down through the canyon was amazing, breathtaking...I was in awe of the canyon walls.

The trail was filled with interesting this friendly rock face and plants growing anywhere and everywhere.  We saw fuzzy caterpillars and some of the biggest butterflies I have ever seen.  A few lizards darted between the rocks and the never ending caravan of pack mules and horses continually crossed our path.

Things I learned about the trail:
The long 60 mile road to the trail head {hilltop} is before Peach Springs. There is a reason the speed limit is 30 MPH on the pitch black {at night} road. I side swept a very large elk!! {No damage to the car and hopefully, not the elk}.
Sleep at the trail head. We left the valley after dinner, arrived around midnight, slept in the car, and hit the trail by 6:30AM.
It's a 10 mile hike.
Please...pack in and pack out. Everything we needed was on our backs. It broke my heart {and pissed me off} to see the horses and mules loaded with large coolers, bags, lounge chairs, etc. If you can't live on ramen for a few days...don't go.  I promise, it is much more rewarding and empowering to carry your own gear.
The hike through the canyon is beautiful. Take your time.
Once you arrive in the village, you have 2 miles of loose, dust sandy to walk through. I'm not going to sucked.

Our first water sighting!! You come upon the river about a mile outside the village. It is a perfect place to rest, wash your face, regroup...enjoy the surroundings.

The village.
There are two markets, a cafe, restrooms, water, a lodge, and the tourist office {where you must check in}.
There is also a landing pad. Yes, you can take a helicopter in, but you will miss the magnificent canyon hike. I only recommend flying in if you are physically unable to hike the trail. {Remember, you still have 2 miles to hike from the village to the campground}.

Once you are near the campgrounds there is a frybread stand with cold sodas and gatorades.

Things I learned about the village and campsite:
Guests are monitored. We were miles outside the village when we were approached by a local on horseback who asked for our names. He checked us off a list and told us to check in at the village.  Upon checking in, we were given wristbands and a tag for our tent. A local came through the campground each morning and evening to check in on the campers.
You do not have a designated campsite. {Even though it seems like it when you book the online reservation}.
No day hikes are allowed.
No alcohol is allowed.
No campfires.
There are composite restrooms.
There are lots of picnic tables throughout the campsite.
The locals are incredibly kind and accommodating.
Fellow campers seemed friendly and respectful. I never saw trash or anyone acting stupid.

First falls...Navajo Falls. With every step, the view becomes more and more intoxicating.

You're tired, dirty, feet hurt...but you come around a bend and down a hill to this incredible sight.
Havasu Falls.

I'm telling you...the views just keep coming.  There are deep pools all along the river...
Yes, I did jump right in. Dirty, dusty clothes and all. It was cold and refreshing. 
{Since this was my bath for the day and I was cold...I may have gone back to the tent and changed into flannel pants and a t-shirt...ready for dinner and bed}!

On our second day, we ventured down to Mooney Falls. Another gorgeous view!
{In my quest to pack as little as possible, I forgot a brush! My hair was tied up - one way or another - the entire time}.

To get down to Mooney Falls and the trail to Beaver Falls you have to take a little adventure. Through this cave and down a very steep, wet, crazy climb down.  I was in so much shock and awe, I forgot to get a picture of the "ladder".


It was kind of cold and cloudy on the day we made this trek. The mist from the falls was freezing!!! Everyone was searching for sunny spots.

Another deep swimming area. I could not get enough of this water. Although I wish it would have been a little warmer, it still calmed the soul. {I don't think the water temperature varies too much, but I would have liked the outdoor temps to be warmer}.

We had a perfect camp spot. We were near the trail and restrooms and right across from the river.  We were nestled in some trees and had a little stream behind us {perfect for washing dishes}.  The drinking water {a spigot of fresh spring water  coming out of the side of a mountain} was only a few steps away, as well.

To be lulled to sleep by the sound of rushing water and a million stars above you is perfection...but then Mother Nature out does herself with a sunrise that changes the color of the magnificent cliffs towering over you...tan to orange to a brilliant red. I don't think I could ever tire of that.

Things I learned about camping:
Always bring the fly even if it adds a few more ounces. {There was a brief moment on day 2 when the skies clouded up and some sprinkles fell. I would have been screwed if it rained}!
Bring less food.
Tie the food up on a tree branch. {We did this because we heard the squirrels and ring tailed cats will eat through anything for a crumb}.
A good sleeping bag and pad are worth the investment.
Bringing a good book was worth the added weight.

Rising Son {or Fidel} is a grandfather of 13 and has lived in the canyon his whole life. He sang and told us stories. Most memorable thing he said: "I am a poor man because I have no money, but I am rich  because this is my home."

Hiking out at sunrise. The hike out was different, of course. It is a gradual climb out of the canyon until you arrive at the ascent to the switchbacks. The last mile and half is really up hill. We made it out in 5 hours...carrying all of our gear.

We made it to the top! The wind was blowing. I was chapped, dusty, and fatigued...but, I felt amazing!  To see such a magical, mystical place puts things in perspective. Life is precious, hard, wonderful...all things good and bad. I'm forever grateful for the experience of this trip and the opportunity to spend every minute of it with my brother. We talked, laughed, maybe got misty eyed, philosophized, and analyzed...for hours and hours and hours. I am a better person because of these 72 hours spent on a trail, in the water, in a tent...beneath the stars.

"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the growth and happiness occurs while you are climbing it." - Andy Rooney

My gear:
I went to REI for most of my gear. They fitted me for my backpack and it was worth every penny. It was comfortable. I had zero soreness on my shoulders, hips, or back.
Backpack - Osprey Aura AG {Women's}
Sleeping bag - Marmot
Sleeping Pad - Nemo
Tent - REI Backpacking Tent {I got this at their annual sale last year. It is light and sets up in a couple of minutes}.
Although I did get a blow up pillow, I liked my little clothing sack better.
{I only brought one change of clothes and water shoes}.
My toiletries {small bag} consisted of toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.
{I wish I would have brought a small bottle of lotion}.
I had a medium bag with utensils, collapsible bowl, mug and pocket knife.
My bag of granola bars and nuts was the heaviest thing in my bag. It didn't seem like much at the time of packing, but we did not need it all.

That's it!  I never weighed my pack, but I think it was 30-40 pounds.

"I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And most surprising of all, that I could carry it." Cheryl Strand

I'm officially hooked and can't wait for my next adventure!!
Next up: Grand Canyon - camping at Phantom Ranch
{Although, there may be some smaller adventures before that one}!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Weekend Wishes

This weekend is an extra special one...
I get to celebrate this guy {the bigger one}.
Not only do I get to celebrate his birthday, but I get to do it while exploring the beautiful falls of Havasupai with him. As you are reading this, we are hiking, laughing, and experiencing the magic of these turquoise waters...and I promise you, we are loving it!

My little brother is one of a kind. He has always been there for me...without any judgment...just words of wisdom.  Everyone who meets him finds him to be one of the good ones.  The real deal.  He has a heart of gold and lives life the way we all should...with lots of love.

I love watching him be a father {to my darling nephew - pictured with him}. For Christmas, we gave Troy two tickets to Willie Nelson. A few days before the concert, Troy and Debbie informed Emerson he would be the one attending the concert with his dad. He was over the moon with excitement! They have such a great relationship and Emerson adores his dad. {Lucky kid to have two parents with hearts full of love...guiding him through life}.

So, this weekend will be full of exploring, celebrating, and living life as we should...
full of love and kindness.

Here's to birthday wishes...full of butterfly kisses!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

College Bound {Almost}

A few weeks ago, Randi and I embarked on a whirlwind adventure! We set off to visit five schools, in four cities, in 4 days!!!  We were on a train or plane every day. Our journey began on a red eye flight to D.C. {Which, by the way, I am too old for}! We landed at 7 AM and hit the ground running. We had two school tours scheduled in the area...American University and George Washington U. {We both loved GWU}!!!

As soon as the tours finished, we had an early dinner at Founding Farmers and high tailed it to the White House and surrounding areas...we had to see as much as we could!  I had never been to D.C. and it was my favorite city. It was clean, pretty, rich with history and so much to see!

The next morning, we caught a train to Philadelphia. We checked in to our hotel and walked to Drexel University. Randi had already toured this school last summer and it was at the top of her list. After the tour, we both decided we liked GWU better. 

After the tour, we fought the freezing wind and made it to Reading Terminal Market for some lunch.
We both broke down and had a traditional Philly Cheese Steak.

The market is full of delicious foods to try, but when we saw the enormous line at this donut stand...we knew it was a must.
It was so fun to watch them make them and they were probably the best donuts I have ever had!

The wind and cold temps kept us from walking around the city too much. We had both been there, so we decided to head to our room and watch a movie.

Next up...Boston.
We caught a quick flight from Philly to Boston and arrived with enough time to have a bowl of chowda before our Emerson College tour.

It was freezing in Boston and although we love the city, Emerson was not our favorite school. So, we ducked out of the tour and hopped on a heated site seeing bus! 

Two hours later, we got off the bus in the town square that houses the Boston Library.
{The oldest city library in the country}. 
I have quite the love affair with libraries and this one took my breath away!

We dined at a beautiful, old hotel on the square...which Randi picked, and a little later, we visited an indie book store that was hosting one of my favorite bakers. {Joy the Baker}.

Last stop: NYU
We boarded a train from Boston to NYC. {By the way, I love train travel...much better than plane}!

We checked in to our hotel on the Upper West Side and booked it to our NYU tour. Although we were impressed with the school, it felt more like a place for grad school. 

After the tour we dashed over to Tiffany's on 5th Ave. Randi had saved her money to treat herself at her favorite store. She got two darling charms for her bracelet.

After shopping, we did some mean speed walking to our dinner reservations across from the theatre where we had tickets.  Randi found and booked the quaint Italian eatery. Not only was the food fabulous, but we were literally steps away from the theatre. We swooned over Jake Gyllenhaal in Sundays in the Park with George. He was great, the story was interesting, and Broadway is...well, Broadway. I love the intimacy of the theaters there.
{the ice skating rink in Central Park}

Saturday morning we woke up, strolled through Central Park {my favorite thing of NYC} to the Upper East Side, and purchased macarons at Laduree.

It was such a great trip with my beautiful daughter. She amazes me with her organization and travel planning and her desire to see the world. I'm not sure if she will end up at any of these schools for undergrad {they were around $60,000 a year}, but I'm sure she will end up here sooner or later. I'm so excited for her future and anxious to see where the paths take her. I'm happy I get to visit her in these great cities! {In warmer months, of course}!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Happiness is baseball

Cade went from winning club ball tournaments to battling it out in Little League...
all within a few months.

Club ball kept us busy through the fall and winter and Little League has kept us hopping all spring.

 Hey! Look at that hot coach!!
{Mr. C, carrying the glove, is Cade's coach}.

I swore last year I would not make another banner...
that is, until this year.
I got all the supplies for under $20. It was over $100 to order a vinyl banner.  
I couldn't bring my self to do it...especially when they just get tossed after the season.

We are approaching our last week of little league.
But. It's far from over!
Play-offs will begin a few days later and then All-Stars!
We will be living the baseball life for most of the summer.

I love watching him play. He is my little lefty and is doing a great job pitching.
His only downfall is he loves it too much. His emotions get in the way sometimes. 
{Like when he threw his helmet last week. Not OK}.
He does not like losing. At. All.
{He comes by that honestly}.

I have mixed feelings about Little League. 
It is a very nice community with some great families.  
We have made some dear friends through baseball.

Thankfully, in this home, we all love the game. 
{Randi loves it a little more when she can watch cute major leaguers}!

So, keep on taking me out to the ball game!! 
It brings happiness.
and popcorn...
and peanuts...
and crackerjacks...
and cold beer...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Prom 2017

My sweet daughter {who is growing up way too fast} had an event over the weekend. An event she has been looking forward to, stressing over, and working super hard on...Prom.
Prom has taken over our lives for the past few weeks. {Okay. Mostly her life. But it felt like a lot of my life}!  As president elect of Social Committee, she was in charge of prom this year. {Therefore, you can enjoy it a little more when you are a senior}.  Being in charge of things is right up her alley. She is extremely organized and knows what she wants. And, she loves school dances!

She was becoming so stressed as the day grew closer, my mom lovingly referred to her as "promzilla".  {She just tends to get a little bossy and does not bend well when things do not go according to her plan. My mom referring to Randi this way is like the pot calling the kettle black}.

Taylor watched a YouTube video on how to put the boutonniere on their dates. 
She tried to do a quick lesson with the girls.

She just about got it.
{I adore this picture}.

I know she is a little blurry in this picture, but I love the way he is looking at her. 
{They are just she says}.

These two...
they crack me up.
{Nic and Sarah}

One of my highlights of the evening...
Nic randomly asking me if I would bake for him. :)

Beautiful girls.

Handsome boys.
{Mia even made it in the photo shoot}!

Randi ordered flowers from Fred's Flowers. {Where I worked in college}. 
They were so excited to see my darling daughter. 

Quite possibly one of my favorite pictures of the evening. 
Mia loves Sarah and Martina {pictured} and gets so excited when they come over. 
She was in heaven with all the attention she was getting!!

We were able to get all the pictures done in our backyard. The lighting was perfect.
They went to Rustler's Roost for dinner before heading to the rooftop of the Arizona Museum of Natural History for prom. The theme was "Summer Night Under the Stars"...
a tribute to Van Gogh's Starry, Starry Night.

I think it was a fun evening for them all. She has a great group of friends and I loved being with all of them right before their big event.
After prom they attended a bonfire and the girls had a sleepover. 
Randi is so good {almost too good} about always texting me when she arrives or leaves somewhere...
the texts were coming through well after midnight. Plus, they stopped by here after prom to change, get their cars, etc. I am not a night owl. Waiting up for kids is a huge challenge for me!!!

I am so proud of this daughter of mine and the young woman she is becoming.