Friday, August 3, 2012

Cousin Swim Party #1

One of the first activities of our Randall Family Reunion was a swim party at Marc & Karen Tobler's house, (Karen is Justin's cousin).  I don't know too many things, but this I know...If the Toblers are having a party you want to be there! It is a guaranteed great time and delicious food.  Thank's Toblers for another amazing party.  We had a great time!  Here are some pictures of the highlights:

Not everyone likes to swim. How about a friendly game of Dodge Ball? This game went on and on for several hours. Everyone who played had a great time.

Even the "Big Kids" (read Dad's). :)  Yes, that is Kevin's back. 

Justin visiting with his Aunt Jane Wright and Cousin-in-Law, Lars Larsen.

Mark Randall with his sister Glenell Fuller. I think why we love family get togethers, as crazy as they can be, is the chance we get to reconnect with loved ones we haven't seen for a long time.  The memories of these visits brings a smile to my face.

Kate & her cousin Eloise, sporting the Tobler's mermaid tails. They loved wearing these and swam with them for quite a while.

Even when diving off the rocks, they wouldn't let the mermaid tails hold them back. I was just glad that they didn't trip and fall.  There were some serious guardian angels watching out for all the little ones in the pool that night.  

Kelly decided that she didn't want to change into her swimsuit, which she regretted shortly after this picture was taken. She ended up falling in the pool with her cell phone in her pocket. I'm sad to say, the phone did not recover. 

Yes! Kelly is taller than her Grandma Alonna Randall.

This picture reminds me to not do weird things with my eyes when someone is taking my picture!  Yes, I was a little tired, but still.  I did enjoy visiting with Karen and Jane, despite this goofy picture.

This is my favorite picture from that night!  Kenzie swam pretty much the entire time!  It was a great night!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beautiful Sedona

Despite our crazy, busy Arizona trip schedule, the kids and I were able to get a way for a short visit to Sedona to see My brother, Mark & his girlfriend Erin, and my Parents, Paul & Kathy Reese.

As I mentioned before, my brother is a chef at The Barking Frog Grille, and The Cowboy Club. We had the pleasure of having dinner with Mark, Erin, her kids, & my parents in a private dining room at The Barking Frog.  It was amazing!! Appetizers included, cactus fries, vegetable quesadillas, pancetta, fresh mozarella cheese, blue corn chips with fresh salsa, guacamole & queso.  For dinner I had the most amazing carne asada--yum!  This was my dessert--Mark's fresh made Tres Leches Chocolate Cake. Kate grabbed my strawberry and took a bite before I could take my picture.  It was such a wonderful meal--the kind where you wish you'd never feel full because everything tasted so yummy and you didn't want to stop eating! :)

Kenzie was mesmerized by this beautiful tiled bench outside of the restaurant.  This is actually one of two--facing each other.  

My brother and his girlfriend live in one of the most beautiful places ever!  They live in Oak Creek Canyon, just minutes north of Slide Rock State Park in Sedona.  I was standing right by their front door when I took this picture.  They have an apple & pear tree orchard right in front of their house.  I told them that I couldn't live there, because I'd never get anything done!  You just want to sit and stare at the beauty around you.

Part of the orchard right off their front porch.

This was taken as I walked back up to their house from the creek.  So beautiful!!

Even though the water was freezing cold, the kids absolutely loved exploring in the creek. Next time we will bring water shoes to make it a little easier on the feet.

My brother Mark was a good sport to get in a little and help with Kenzie.  Here they were looking at the little minnows in the creek.

Kenzie needed to warm up a little.

On the way to the creek is a wonderful tree swing!  I wish we'd had more time to swing and explore.  We had such a great time and the kids talk about it at least once a day.  Kenzie has decided that she wants to move to "Arizonia" to live in Sedona with Uncle Mark. :)

My wonderful parents!  Thanks Mom & Dad for driving back & forth from Flagstaff to see us!  We love you and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thanks Mark & Erin for your hospitality and patience with our kids--especially as they kept your dogs and cat running the whole time we were there!  You guys are amazing!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On the Plane

Since it had been a long time for our children to fly on an airplane they were all very excited. It didn't even phase them when we woke everyone up at 4:30 AM to get to the airport on time.

Whew! I must admit there was a great sense of accomplishment and relief when we arrived at our gate with plenty of time.  We flew on Southwest and were able to carry on all of our bags and two booster car seats. Which was also pretty amazing.  

Justin came up with great plan that He, Kevin & Kate would sit in one row & Kenzie, Kelly & I would sit in the row across from them.  That way all of the kids should be able to look out the window, even if they weren't sitting right by the window.  It was so fun to see the children's reactions as the plane took off, and turned, etc. You would have thought that we were on a roller coaster ride!  Everyone loved it except for Kenzie!! She hated it and did NOT want to look out of the window.  Thankfully our first flight was a short one to  Oklahoma City.  Kelly & Kenzie ended up changing seats and she felt much better about sitting in the middle, away from the window.

We had a good 15 min. +/- stop in Oklahoma City.  Kevin was dying to take a look inside the cockpit. Justin told him to ask a flight attendant before going up there, but you can imagine how well an 11 year old boy listens in situations like this. ;) He just walked right up there and started talking to the pilot!

Kenzie, happy to be on the ground in OK City.

I loved sneaking this picture of Kate. She was adding up all of the flights she will have been on by the end of our trip. She absolutely loved every minute.

Kevin was very fortunate to have the audience of a patient pilot and flight crew. He probably spent a good 8-10 minutes talking with them and sharing all he knew about airplanes and flight, etc.  They even let him sit in the Pilot's seat!

He was in heaven!!

This is the only picture I took on our flights home and I think it sums up how we all felt. :) Let me just add what a blessing it was that we could raise the arm rests in between seats. Kenzie was much more comfortable and it made everything easier that she just laid down and slept most of the way.

It was a great adventure and we feel very blessed that Justin had enough flight miles to allow us all to fly for free!!  It was another wonderful experience that we will not forget.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tonto Natural Bridge

Part of our trip and family reunion in Arizona was a trip to the Tonto Natural Bridge.  I think it was also one of my favorite parts of the trip.  I think that the Arizona Desert, the true desert, not what you see in town, is beautiful!

As I mentioned before, Justin's grandparents, Glen & Eloise Randall owned the natural bridge when their children were young. Justin's dad, Mark Randall remembers spending his summers working and exploring all over the natural bridge. In fact, I think that he and some of his sisters, if not all--(I'm not sure, I will have to double check) were baptized here in the old swimming pool that is no longer in use.

This is one of the many beautiful "Century Plants" that were blooming all throughout the area.  They are part of the Agave plant family. It's rumored that they only bloom once a century--hence the name. However, that is not true. They only live 10-30 years and flower once in their lifetime. After they have bloomed, the plant dies, but not before putting out "sucker" plants that grow into new ones.

One of the first sights of the bridge, as you get closer to the entrance.

I think this picture is a little deceiving, because it makes it look kind of small. It's truly huge!! In fact, Justin' s "Crazy Uncle Bob," Bob Fuller, at one point flew an airplane through the bridge many years ago.

With over 100 people in our group all wearing matching blue shirts, it looked like an army of blue ants climbing through. :)

So beautiful!! And amazingly cool. Under the bridge it had to be 20+ degrees cooler. If we weren't helping kids climb through, I would have spent a lot more time down there.

After hiking through the bridge we enjoyed listening to Justin's Dad, Mark, and his sisters, (l-r) Dixie Oveson, Sally Bridge, Glenell Fuller, Jane Wright, & Martha Hoopes, share stories and memories of what life was like at the Natural Bridge. My favorite...Jane & Sally convinced that an Indian Chief was buried there with gold and treasure so they spent hours and hours digging to find it. Who convinced them that he was there?  Their big brother, Mark! :)

Part of the festivities also included foot races and tug of war. Here's the youngest group of runners. I'm proud to see Kenzie out front! ;)

It was a wonderful day full of memories that we will not soon forget!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kenzie's Birthday

O.k. I have decided that from now on I think I should have a separate photographer at birthdays, because I just can't seem to get any good pictures and keep the birthday festivities going!  

Besides that, we ended up keeping things low key for Kenzie's birthday. She couldn't make up her mind what she wanted, or how she wanted to celebrate. The only thing that she didn't constantly change her mind on, was that she wanted a "Miss Trunchbull" chocolate cake, like Kevin had for his birthday.  That, and she wanted hot dogs for dinner. We invited our friends the Lindsey's over to celebrate with us.  Ron and Linda watched Kenzie for us when I was working at the High School.  They are both from Hawaii and have come to be "Tutu, and Tutukani" to our family. That is, Grandma and Grandpa in Hawaiian.  Don't worry Grandparents--they are not taking your place! :)

 Kenzie did not seem to mind the absence of a huge party and truly enjoyed the day.  We went swimming at the neighborhood pool and I think by the time we left everyone there new it was Kenzie's birthday because she had to tell everyone!!  Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera to the pool.

The Tinkerbell "cafe" you see in the background has an interesting story.  One of Justin's friends' family has a toy business. Every November they hold a large parking lot toy sale and we try to help out with set up, etc. Without fail, they generously give us toys, which most of which become gifts that our children give to other's on their birthdays. the cafe, was one of these gifts. We've been trying to hide it in our closet since November. Kenzie of course found it months ago and we had to get creative on why we had it, and who was it for. We had to re-hide it about 3 times!  It was a happy day for everyone when we were finally able to give it to her. I know you're probably wondering why we didn't just give it to her when she found it. We considered it, but felt it best to have her wait. 

See what I mean about getting a good picture?! Anyway, we love this beautiful girl. She is creative and imaginative the way that Kelly was at this age and happily entertains herself with anything around her. Just the other day she was having a conversation with her feet as if they were toy figures. She even changed her voice to have them converse back with her! :) She loves wearing dresses or leotards everyday. If those aren't available, or the day we went hiking in the Natural Bridge and she had to wear denim shorts--it's quite an emotional event to get her dressed. *Sigh* She is bright and fun and we are so blessed to have her in our family. We love you Kenzie!!