Saturday, September 18, 2010

Family Olympics Extravaganza

We like to have fun when we get together. And a few years ago, my family organized a last-minute Olympic event to see who was best at certain things. It's all about bragging rights in our family, after all. And we are slightly competitive. Which makes even the silliest of events turn into dangerous, pain-inducing, hour-long escapades that won't soon be forgotten. Or let go by others. The Olympics were such a success last time that we thought we'd make it more official during our family reunion. This was our first appearance at such events, and John and I had been training for months. We even made our own team uniforms.

This year's prestigious events included: IQ Test, Yahtzee (forfeited after Mom "forgot" to bring it), Blokus (same thing...mysteriously didn't end up in the truck for the trip south), Ball In The Circle, Hula-Hoop, Head Stand, Stilts, and the always-popular One-Legged Stand. Thanks to Charloe and Mom for designing this year's showcasing games.

IQ Test & Ball In The Circle

We started out easy with the Ball In The Circle event. After playing Bocce Ball for the previous three days, we were all worked up to get our ball closest to the center for more points. I was pleasantly surprised to take second place. Joe took first, and Brian came in third.


Next came the Stilts competition. I quote Brian, "Had I known we had stilts in the garage this whole time, I would have practiced!" He lost and had this excuse. I am very proud of my husband, John, who brought his A-game and caused a time limit to be imposed. After five minutes, he beamed as he came down the twelve-inch sky scrapers. No one came close to beating his time, though it was more than entertaining to see the attempts.

One-Legged Stand

The first heat of the One-Legged Stand came next, followed shortly by the second heat and the champion round. The top two competitors from each heat moved on to compete for the final placing. I am glad I gave up early as the final round lasted almost an hour. Who knew standing on one leg could bring on such misery and pain? Ask Joe. He would know. After hanging in there with the best of them for almost half an hour, he crumbled to the ground. Some people do their hair every morning for forty-five minutes in this one-legged position, which may be considered cheating in other families. We just saw it as dedication and sat back to enjoy the LONG event. With no end in sight, we had the final two competitors throw a ball from the one-legged position. Then, the top three finishing athletes decided to split the gold medal. Such actions caused the crowd to go wild and induced tears in every eye.


Hula-Hooping was a challenge to some athletes and easy for others. Corban said, "I think I'm going to take Bronze in this one." Since he had no idea what "Bronze" meant, we were all shocked and amazed when he actually did take Bronze with his performance. Kippy was crowned the champion and even did some extra tricks for all the ladies in the crowd.

Head Stand

Finally, the events came to an entertaining end with the Head Stand event. It's amazing the guts some people have in being able to last minutes at this misery. I think my best time was 1.32 seconds. Thank goodness for stopwatches to witness such glory!

The athletic competition at this year's Family Olympics Extravaganza was one for the history books. We have been training for months and are proud of the results. Everyone received a medal, which just goes to show how well-rounded, talented, and humble we really are.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Something Incredible

I just got back to my hotel after spending a surprise day at the Reno Air Races. It sounds silly that I wouldn't know in advance about attending such a monumental affair. But I found out this morning. And two hours later, I was enjoying one of the most incredible events I have ever had the pleasure to witness. My face still hurts from smiling so much.

My little Canon was very busy today. I will be home tomorrow to upload lots of pictures to my computer to share. I can't believe I get to do stuff like this at work.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Family Who Hikes Together...

When constantly eating and remaining sedentary for five days, one can have an insatiable desire to get out and get moving. Though I've never experienced this personally, it has been known to happen to those whom I know. Such an occasion happened in Sedona not too long ago, in fact, to several people staying with me in a cabin in the woods. We decided to act on these promptings by putting on our hiking shoes and heading across Oak Creek for a hike up the canyon.

The further we progressed along the trail, the quieter our surroundings became. It was so beautiful to be engulfed by the gorgeous red rocks and towering pine trees. This type of scenery wasn't new for me, since I spent many a summer with my grandparents in southern Utah in such surroundings. But it was nice to steal a piece of familiar nature and share it with my family. The hike was level and not strenuous, which provided the opportunity to chat and laugh along the way. We even stumbled upon a family of baby squirrels playing tag along a tall tree. We shared the trail with many traveling families and smiled at each one as we passed by. I think we all felt blessed to experience such a beautiful piece of heaven on earth.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Things To Do In A Cabin For A Week

The Sedona Family Reunion came and went. A little too quickly, if you ask me. Of course, most of the festivities revolved around food, which certainly didn't disappoint this year! We decided to divide the grub assignments up by day, with each couple taking breakfast and dinner on their assigned day. Lunch was taken care of by leftovers and sandwiches.

The meals were incredible. John and I arrived too late to enjoy Creamy Cooker Chicken on Thursday but heard good things. Friday morning, Charloe and her family provided bagels, fruit, and juice. For their dinner, they grilled up some marinated chicken using the new outdoor grill located on the massive deck. She had corn on the cob and a green salad to accompany, and it was all so delicious! Saturday, John and I were on cooking duty. We made Weir Pancakes (a rendition of Weir Waffles but for large groups...pancakes with bacon and cheese sprinkled on top as they cook), scrambled eggs, and orange juice. It was fun to make breakfast for such a crowd. For our dinner, we made chicken teriyaki in the crockpot, steamed rice, and potstickers. We happen to be addicted to the potstickers from Costco and had to share with the family! Sunday meant T'liese and Joe cooked for us. Since church was so early and so far away (forty-five minutes, thanks to so much traffic in the canyon getting to Sedona), we just grabbed muffins and bagels for breakfast before heading into town. Right after church, they got to work making taco salad. It was so refreshing and yummy! That evening, we ate spinach dip and caramel corn for dinner. A very well-rounded diet including all the necessary food groups. Caramel? Check. A bowl of candy? Check. The food pyramid would have been very proud of us all. Monday morning, the Friends made biscuits and gravy. It was so good and brought back lots of great memories of growing up on The Ranch. Monday evening was an incredible meal, prepared by my mom and step-dad. Pork carnitas with homemade pico de Gallo and fresh guacamole. Holy cow, was it ever delicious! There wasn't much conversation during dinner because we were all stuffing our faces. Tuesday meant batting clean-up with food. We tried to empty the fridge and munched on leftovers all day. It worked pretty well as the food was mostly gone by the time we needed to leave on Wednesday.

If we got bored while at The Cabin (I jest...boredom is impossible with my family), there were always things to keep us busy. There were presents to open (lots of family birthdays in July, August, September, and October). There were games to play, including Bananagrams and Cranium Wow. There were snacks to enjoy, including candy, caramel corn, sausage cheese dip, spinach artichoke dip (contained 0.05% vegetables), olive bread, marshmallow fudge, and more candy. Needless to say, it was a week filled with pure gluttony. But what would a family reunion be without overeating?

Lots of outside visiting and sitting took place as well. Bocce Ball was a family favorite during the week, and I am pretty sure it helped me take second place in the Family Olympics Ball In The Circle event (pictures to come later). If we got bored, we could always read a book, play Wii in the office, make cards with the girls, or just corner someone until they started talking to us. It was such a nice time spent with family, food, and fun.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dreams of Water and Grass

When I was a little girl, I imagined what my life would be like as an adult. I wanted to be a pilot. A wife. A mommy. And I wanted them to happen in that order! In the past few years, I have desperately wanted to become a home owner. That wonderful dream came true almost two months ago and has been pure bliss. But I admit...never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever own a pool.

It has been a steep learning curve being the proud parents of a swimming pool. Unfortunately, thanks to us growing up in cold climates, neither of us knows what we are doing! We had a friend from church come give us a tutorial on how to take care of our diving pool. We took a sample of water to Leslie's Pool Supply to have a free chemical test done. It's always pleasant news when the results confirm we would melt no loved one's skin during a pool party. We learned the hard way that the pool doesn't auto-fill and therefore has to be kept in line with a water hose from the house. We also learned how important chlorine tablets are to the sanity of our pool. Despite figuring it out as we go, it has been a joy having a pool.

When John's Dad was down to help us during our first week of home ownership, he brought tools to cut out the old, rusted diving board. He was also considerate enough to grind down the revealed screws to prevent any unnecessary trips to the ER. He is a saint, really. Thanks, Mick!

My patio...oh, my patio. I love this thing. I have been imagining dinner parties out here since we saw the house for the first time in May. We hung patio lights, which actually provide enough illumination to eat outside! I found the perfect patio dining set but lost my chance to purchase it this year. Looks like that will be my first purchase next spring when it becomes available again. In the meantime, we have really enjoyed the Adirondack chairs we bought this past weekend. When it cools down below triple digits, we will begin the arduous task of getting rid of the gravel in the backyard so we can add more grass and more watering pipes. We will also resume the demolition of the shed in the corner and transfer a smaller version to behind the pool pump. I might "supervise" that portion as well! The place is slowly but surely becoming our home.

I really, really love this house. Have I mentioned that? It's fun to wake up every morning, knowing that my dream of owning a house has finally come true. The pool? That's just a dreamer's bonus.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Exclusive Slide Rock Club

We found our own little piece of swimming heaven in Sedona. My family discovered it two years ago during our initial family reunion at my sister-in-law's family's cabin. When we tried to do the "real" Slide Rock, it was closed to help the abused earth recover from a busy weekend. Being Labor Day and one of the busiest summer times, this past weekend was even more swamped! So I am glad we found a sweet swimming hole just half a mile downriver from where we slept each night in complete bliss.

Our "Slide Rock" is a nice, open, flat area that had a deep cutout in the rocks for water to glide quickly through. If the water was warmer than minus twelve, I'm sure it would be fun to sit in it and let the current push downstream about twenty feet. Instead of losing digits I like to hypothermia, I simply took photos. And watched the crazy few who got in waist-deep to enjoy being frozen in early September.

I just about died at the adorableness of my tiny niece and nephew in their Baby Bjorn carriers. They both love them, too...kicking their feet up and smiling during the hike to our "Slide Rock." While at our swimming paradise, we found some interesting bugs that looked like beetles but could swim and go underwater for minutes at a time. We found a cute, tiny frog (that only became cute after it quit surprising T'liese). We watched the boys leave to explore even further south down Oak Creek Canyon. We stumbled upon a harmless snake that was even more startled by fifteen people tromping through his house than we were at finding him! And we enjoyed a beautiful spot of land that felt like it was all ours. It was simply the perfect afternoon with family in the water.
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