A whole bunch about us you may have never wanted to know.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Phoenix pics

Okay, so here is a quick summary of our trip along with some fun pics ...

Our first stop was in St. George where we got to visit my brother Ryan and his awesome family. His girls are adorable, and they didn't disappoint. :) Saturday was Ryan's birthday, so they took us out to breakfast to celebrate. (I'm still trying to figure out how it happened that way instead of us taking THEM out since it was his birthday ...) Anyway, breakfast was great and then we had to be on our way ... but not before getting a cute picture of Katie:

Paul had flown to Phoenix on March 9 to start his class the next day. That left me alone with the kids to drive down to meet him about a week later. I was nervous to think of driving a route I've never driven and to be alone with the kids. I figured there would be cell phone service the entire way. Little did I know that Highway 93 is in the middle of nowhere and has no cell phone service for most of the way! Fortunately I didn't realize this until we were there driving and all was well.

Zachary needed to water the weeds on the side of the road several times, but one time we were actually able to make it to a rest stop. The rest stop had trees growing in cool ways, so I took advantage and got out my camera. Would you ever guess this fun picture is taken at a rest stop:

This was our second-to-last trip to the bathroom for him. The last was in an area of downtown Phoenix that scared the snot out of me ... but it was that or wet pants ...

After a frustrating delay at Hoover Dam (1 hour to go 4 miles), we got on our way and FINALLY made it to Tempe. Jennifer had dinner ready for us, so that was nice. Then we unpacked the van and "took over" their home. They were so nice to let us stay there for so long. And my mom lent us her aerobed, which was wonderfully better than the air mattress we had planned to bring. :)

Jennifer and Rob's little girl London is adorable. I just had to share this picture of her in her Jasmine costume, which she wore nearly every day we were there ... what princess wouldn't want to?

We decided to wear Easter outfits both Sundays we were there to cut down on the amount we had to pack. So, our picture this year is actually a week before Easter, but nobody would know that unless I told them. :) Don't the kids look snazzy?

On Tuesday while Rob went to work and Paul went to his class, Jennifer and I took the kids to the zoo. It was a bit crowded because of spring break and spring training (Oakland A's), but it was a lot of fun anyway. Tyler got to see a warthog, which made him super excited. The bugger ran away before I could take a picture, but maybe Jennifer will get a picture to e-mail me next time she goes to the zoo so I can let it be. :) However, I did get probably at least 100 great pictures of animals and the kids. Jennifer was very patient with me taking tons of pictures ... Here she is with the kids and the rhinos:

The COOLEST part of the zoo was where we got to pet sting rays. I've always thought sting rays look a bit angelic in the way they swim, so I was excited to touch one. Mind you, I also knew their stingers would be clipped, which I guess they have to re-do every six months or so. Didn't know that one! I was surprised at how they felt -- kind of spongy, with definite bones in their "wings." I guess I expected them to be slimy and smooth like a fish, so I was surprised when they weren't.

Anyway, they also happened to have two sharks in the pool, which FREAKED OUT my boys. I insisted they try to touch one. Okay, I forced their arms in to touch one of the sting rays. Look at Zachary's poor face in the two pictures below. If you must, click on the pictures to get a better view. Poor kid is being traumatized:

Another fun thing at the zoo was that Tyler and Zachary got to feed the elephants carrots. They threw in some HUGE carrots for the elephant to eat. The other cool thing we got to see was the orangutans. They were AWESOME! There were two females, a male and a baby. When we got there, one of the females was hugging the baby, which was cute. Then the baby got down to play alone for a few minutes, and then went up to play with the other female.

The baby would climb a ladder and then jump on the female. She got the sheet that was in their cage and started playing peek-a-boo with him. Look at the smile on that baby orangutan!!!

Needless to say, we had a lot of fun at the zoo. And we definitely wore the kids out. Shayla and Joseph bit the dust at about the same time:

Rob has long had a juggling talent, and somehow the boys found out. (I'm guessing Paul let them know.) In any case, he agreed to juggle a few times for them. They were ecstatic when he agreed to juggle their favorite animals (Beanie babies). Rob kept throwing rings to them to catch, thus the arms up in the picture getting ready to catch a ring.

On Friday we dyed Easter eggs, which is always fun. I enjoyed helping Shayla, who loved getting her fingers right into the water and all over the wet eggs. I also love in the pictures how you can see that she still has those cute chubby cheeks:

Friday night Tyler, Zachary and I went to the outdoor Easter Pageant at the Mesa Arizona temple. It was phenomenal!!! I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the area. I got there "late" (only about 35 minutes early), but we got GREAT seats with an old mission comp who had been there since 5 p.m. (it started at 8 p.m.). Thanks to the Parkes family for letting us crash with you! :) And it was nice to meet Cylena's husband for the first time. Here is a picture we got before the pageant:

This is another pre-pageant picture where the actors come down and mingle with the audience. I know the pageant was about the life of Christ, but I told the boys they were getting their picture with Captain Moroni, not a Roman soldier:

On Saturday we did the Easter egg hunt. Rob and Jennifer were very gracious about celebrating Easter a day early so that we could enjoy some Easter festivities before hopping in the car to drive home. It was so hot that we had to put the plastic eggs with chocolate inside in the freezer before we took them out to hide them. Crazy to think it is already that hot in Phoenix in March! Here is a picture we took of all the kids with their loot:

The best part about the above picture is that Jennifer and I played around with her Adobe Photoshop Elements and figured out how to use different faces from different pictures to make the perfect shot. The one above isn't the one we edited ... but I included it with its imperfections anyway. :)

On Sunday after Sacrament Meeting we loaded the car and started our trek home. While we were packing up the car Shayla decided to get in a little play time. I think it's a hilarious picture of her on the bike all dressed up pretty:

Fortunately our delays at Hoover Dam weren't quite as long, although we did have to wait a while. We decided it was worth it, though, because soon enough you won't be able to drive over Hoover Dam anymore. I also saw a ram right before we got to the dam, which was cool.

On our trip back, we stopped once more at the St. George Palmers. We weren't there very long, but by the end of our trip Ellie didn't cry when she saw us, and she just squirmed to get away instead of squirming AND screaming to get away. :) Shayla called her (and Joseph) "Nah-Nuh" the whole time, because she plays weekly with my friend's little girl named Savannah. It was cute to see her try to figure out that all babies aren't named Savannah. Back to Ellie ... Ryan actually got a smile out of Ellie while I was close enough to snap a shot:

After leaving Ryan and Karen's house, we stopped by the St. George temple for a quick visit. I have always loved how white and bright the temple there is. Look at how beautiful:

And really, isn't this what it's all about? Look at those great kids of mine:

On that note, all I have to say is, "The End."

Spider money

Yesterday I saw a spider in the kitchen. It was the first time we've seen a spider in the house since I made the bribe about giving the boys $1 if they see a spider in the bathroom. Tyler and Zachary asked if they could see it before I sent it swimming, so I showed them.

As soon as I got rid of the spider, Tyler said, "Mom, are you going to give yourself a dollar?" Zachary jumped right in, "Yeah, you saw the spider and then you showed us so we saw the spider, so we ALL get $1, right?"

Uh, no. The spider bribe applies to the bathrooms only!!! But I did tell them I might give myself a dollar anyway ... :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MCSE, baby!!!

Just an update about Paul's boot camp: It's over, and Paul has earned his MCSE!! (That stands for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.) In the process he also became an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator).

To do this, Paul had to take seven tests and get at least 700 out of 1000. Let's just say that his average score was probably something like 930 (I don't have his exact scores to let you know for sure), so he passed with flying colors. The others in the class (only two others in this particular class) both had to do make-up tests for ones they had failed on the first attempt.

In addition to him passing all his tests, we got to visit with his brother's family, which was great. I'll post all 800 pictures later -- NOT!!! :) But I will post some of them ...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scaredy Cats

So, my boys are chickens. They're scared of anything and everything. Until this year, neither of them would even go onto a different level of the house without someone else being with them. (Tyler has outgrown this now, but I still have it with Zachary.)

In their defense, I know they both have nightmares. Tyler once started describing some of them, and I realized that they have reason to get nervous. Zachary last night prayed that he'd have good dreams. Of course, telling them not to be scared is much easier than having them not really be scared.

The biggest problem lies in our restrooms. Apparently they once saw a spider in the downstairs one and once saw a spider in the main-level one. So, even if they are downstairs playing, they will run up the stairs (past the one downstairs), past the one on the main level, up the next set of stairs and into one upstairs. Zachary had us laughing when he said, "I was going downstairs to my room when I had to go really bad, so I ran as fast as I could upstairs." To him it all made sense to pass two bathrooms on the way ...

In any case, I've reverted to good ol' bribery. If they use the downstairs bathroom or half bath and EVER see a spider, I'll give them $1. It has worked a little bit, and I keep telling them they should use them more to up their chances. Zach is confused about this and assures me I should just give him the $1 for using the bathroom, because if there IS indeed a spider in there, it most likely will be a black widow, and I'd rather not have him encounter a black widow. Nice try, but I've let them know they only get the $1 IF they see a spider and IF the come and get me. After I kill it, they get the $1.

Once we get them going to the closest bathroom we'll turn our focus to aim (or lack thereof) ...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pulling a Hilary ...

So, I'm pulling a Hilary. I've sent my husband off in the name of providing for the family while I stay at home and rule the roost. I've been "alone" now for more than 12 hours ... and we've had no casualties yet ...

Paul is off to Phoenix for a boot camp to study and earn his Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification. It is a two-week course that is only costing us $7 plus travel. (Oh, how I wish that were completely true. ) That's right -- $7 and travel AFTER we dump in our entire tax return. So much for saving or fun spending this year ... What a blessing, though, to have it work out so evenly. We were hoping for Paul's company to pull through and pay as offered in the employee handbook, but let's just say they "Dilbert-ed" us. (Pick any scenario in Dilbert and that will probably explain exactly what I'm talking about.) In any case, GOOD LUCK to Paul!!! He's got to complete seven tests in these two weeks, including one on his birthday. I know he'll do great, and it will be a huge relief to have them over. Let's just say it's the best birthday present he's ever gotten (or given himself) and he deserves it.

We're going to join him this weekend, which will be wonderful. Not only will we get to see his brother and sister-in-law, but we will be in WARM (if not HOT) Phoenix. Ahhh .... we will be able to have an Easter egg hunt without the kids getting frostbite on their fingers. :) Although it's been warm here in Utah lately, who knows what it will be like Easter weekend. (Anyone else notice how early Easter is this year?)

And on that note, I'll continue my randomness and say how much I love Easter candy. Isn't it the best?!? You can't beat those Creme Eggs or Mini Eggs. Just as long as they don't melt in Phoenix before I can eat them!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Okay, so ever since we moved to Utah I've been having problems cooking roast. They've been SO dry! The first time I tried it was dry, so I thought maybe I shouldn't cook it quite so long. I pulled out a recipe for a slow cooker and found how long it said to cook the roast. So, I tried it and it was still too dry. So, I figured maybe I still was over cooking it?

I tried again with a shorter time, and it was still dry. It was cooked, but very dry. What was happening here? It is very discouraging to smell a yummy roast all day and then have it not taste so good ...

Paul and I even got online to find a solution, and we couldn't find any. However, there was this one thing that said that some type of other meat had to "break through" before becoming moist. So, I started thinking about it and realized that in Seattle I would put it in before work and cook it all day on low.

Okay, I decided to try it one more time, but this time cooking it longer. SUCCESS!!! It was delicious. I can cook roast again and we can enjoy it instead of it gagging us with its dryness. :)

That was enough to put me in a great mood all night. I love when dinner tastes good. I also this week made some Asian lettuce wraps that I LOVED!!! (Paul wanted them spicier, but I'll just buy him his own special "spicy" sauce for the next time. :)

Send any good recipes my way, especially if they're easy. :) I once did a recipe "chain letter" but I never got any recipes back ... Oh well ... if I get no new recipes at least I now know how to cook roast in the slow cooker once again!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I did it!

Okay, so I have a certificate from high school saying I'm competent with word processing. I thought it too hilarious to throw away. I tend to think I do alright, especially for the basic stuff I usually do.

Today, however, I did something more advanced -- a mail merge. And I actually was able to do it!!! I created it using a list of addresses from my mission prez to send out invites for a mission reunion. I thought I was doing well until Paul came in and showed me that I could skip a step (actually three) to make it a bit easier, but I had created the mail merge before he even came in and helped with a few other details.

I guess my brain does work sometimes ... but don't tell my kids. I've got them convinced that I can't do a thing with legos or any games on the Game Cube. I'm guessing my confession is safe with you ...