Wednesday, January 22, 2014

House Projects

We are putting our old house up on the market in a few weeks.  Yikes!   In order to get it ready, I need to do some touch up painting and Mikes is finishing up some transitions and moulding we never got around to.  But, it is really hard to get motivated to paint the old place when I want to paint the new place!

One of the rooms that I have been wanting to put together for awhile now is S' bedroom.  She has a new big girl bed arriving this weekend!  I also need to put up her decorations, but I had wanted to repaint her room first.  The vast majority of the new place is painted yellow and I am not a fan.  So keep your eye out for a before and after coming soon.  We'll see what I can get done!  It may even involve a little stencil work from my favorite place -  Wallovers.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trip to the Motherland

For MLK weekend, S and I went to visit my parents in Monument Valley.  We picked up Hanna, Aaron, and Loren on our way down, so it was a nice little family get together.

Bluff had their Balloon festival that weekend.  We slept in Saturday morning, but we were able to catch the launch on Sunday morning.  It was really neat to see how they set up the balloons.  My mom is already planning how she can get her own hot air balloon business set up.

Overall, S and I had a great time spending time with family.  S was really great on the car ride.  My parents were surprised at how much more she is talking now since the last time they saw her.  There's also something very relaxing and peaceful about down south.  I just wished we could've stayed down there another day or two...


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hello 2014!

Where did 2013 go?

The last few months of the year just flew by.  We decided to stay in Utah this year for Thanksgiving and spent the holiday with my family.  My parents drove up from Monument Valley, Emma and her little family flew in from Maryand, and Aaron and Hanna were already in the area.  Half the Smith kids - not a bad showing!

Someone put lifesavers on the tables and S kept sneaking away and eating them...

S and I have really enjoyed having Hanna bones nearby.  She is one of S' favorite aunties and will run around with us on the weekends.

We also moved in November.  We had been struggling with the decision of whether or not to renovate our house.  We love having guests, so we really wanted to build a master suite upstairs so that everyone could have a little more privacy when there are visitors.  However, after consulting with several professionals, turns out it was the same price, if not cheaper, to buy a bigger house that already had the elements we wanted.   So we've moved about 1 mile northeast from our old place.  I'll have to post on that another time.

When we moved, S found all the baby items I had stored and enjoyed pretending to be a baby again.  Apparently a little kid at her preschool is going to be a big sister soon.  Not to be outdone, S has told us that she also wants a baby and to be a big sister. Mike told her that she could adopt one of the other kids t preschool.

Mike and I both celebrated our birthdays with breakfast at Eggs in the City.  Yum.

Poor astro has not adjusted well to the new house.  He is not allowed on the new couch.  To access the backyard, you actually have to go upstairs, so I don't think he gets out as much to run around.  Winter also makes it harder to take him out on walks.  We have been looking for a good home to take him.  I'm not quite ready to just drop him off or list him on KSL for a complete stranger, but I feel bad for the little guy that he isn't getting the attention he used to get and deserves.

Mike and I are both really busy with our jobs.  So, when I get off work, I want to spend it with S.  We haven't been as good as we used to be at our weekly date nights, but we did enjoy some fun parties in December, including the Dartmouth Club of Utah's event at High West.  

When I was putting away the Christmas decorations, S found the Halloween decorations and pulled out a skeleton arm.  She carried it around for 2 days and would waive hi to people with the arm.

We also tried to do Santa this year.  She was very excited to see him before we arrived, kinda freaked out while we were there, but at the end told me "Santa is nice."

I think that about catches me up... Here's to 2014 and being a better blogger!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oh Canada, Oh Canada!

This past weekend, S and I made the trek back east to visit my brother and his family in Ottawa, Ontario. Work has been crazy busy lately, so I wasn't able to relax 100%, but it was still a great trip full of quality family time.

Being from a big family, there is a 20 year span between the youngest and oldest.  As a result, my relationship with each of my siblings has really evolved over time.  This trip, I had the privilege of getting to spend time with my oldest brother Derek and his family, my younger sister Emma and her baby, and older brother Ben.  We even saw my mom (Grandma Jo Jo) for an afternoon before Emma and I made the drive up north from D.C. to Ottawa.  Overall, the little kiddies did a great job for such a long trip.

Once in Ottawa, we had fun walking around parliment, getting a delicious beaver tail, picking out pumpkins at a pumpkin patch and carving them later, walking around an awesome lake at a park in Quebec,celebrating Canada Thanksgiving with yummy raclette, and letting the cousins run around and have fun with one another.  It was especially great to meet the newest addition to Derek's family - baby G.  Coming back to work was really hard and I have a lot to catch up on, but it was totally worth it.

Blast from the Past

I think it was our junior year of college. On one of his hikes, Mikes came across a quartzite vein and chipped out a little piece. He went to the jewelry studio at school and proceeded to make me a necklace with the stone. 

At some point in the last couple of years, the stone popped out and I lost the necklace but kept on to the stone. Thanks to the super talented Case Hathaway-Zepeda, founder of Flame and Fire and new friend, the stone has been saved and put into a new necklace. I love it! I can't tell you how sentimental the stone is and I'm so happy that I'm able to wear it again. Check out Case's work if you get the chance:


A couple months ago, we flew to Palm Springs for a memorial in honor of  Mikes' grandma.  I'm sure I've said it before, but I have always been jealous of people who grew up knowing their grandparents. All of my grandparents passed away when I was really young, so I have really enjoyed getting to know Mikes' grandparents.

We are sad that grandma bama passed away, but she lived a very rich life and I'm sure she is lovin it on the other side.  The trip was really fun to spend time with family and share memories.

It's hard to catch a good photo of the family these days...

S and her cousin C are a hoot.

We did a mini trip to Joshua Tree while in California.  S loved the rocks.

She also is obsessed with water lately.  Good thing the hotel had a million little pools throughout the place to cool down in the 100+ degree weather.

Quality time with family. 

S is such a cutie she can talk anyone into carrying her around, including Uncle Dave.

Normally we spend Thanksgiving with the Tananas back east.  But this year is the first year in several that we are planning on staying put. That means we won't see everyone until Christmas!  Boo-hoo!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Narrowly Avoid a Flash Flood

This past weekend our east coast friends Dan and Case flew in for visit.  Mike and I have always wanted to hike down to the Havasupi Falls, so we decided it was the perfect time to do it!

Friday morning, we left at 6 a.m. and started the drive down south.  We first stopped off in Monument Valley, where my wonderful parents said they would watch S for the weekend.  After resting for a couple hours, we continued the drive and eventually pulled into the Havasupi Falls parking lot around 11 p.m.  We then proceeded to eat some gummy bears and get psyched up for the long hike in.  But, right before we started our descent, a security guard pulled up and said that we couldn't hike in at night.  Apparently it is monsoon season, so we would need to wait until 5 or 6 am to begin the hike.

  [Note: we had previously been told that hiking during the night was the way to go to avoid the heat]

ok.  monsoon season in the desert?

Not wanting to get banned from the reservation for disobeying orders, we then proceeded to sleep uncomfortably in the car (or at least try to sleep) for the new few hours.  Around 4:30 a.m., we woke up and by 5 a.m., we had started the hike down into the canyon.  The first 1-1.5 mile was a fairly steep hike down the cliff.  Then we had another 7 miles or so to the actual village through wide, flat terrain, and then through the canyon until it opened up a little bit more for the village.

Once we got to the village, we checked in at the tourist's office.  I remembered to bring my CIB, so my entrance and camping fee were waived!  Woo-hoo!  After paying for the white people's admission, we then proceeded to walk another 1-1.5 mile to the campground.  By this point, we were all exhausted from lack of sleep (and for me, the first real exercise I had done in several months).  We set up camp at the first site possible and took a nap.
After nap-time, Mike and I checked out the falls right next to our campground.  It was awesome.  I convinced Mike to climb up behind the falls.  Very cool.

We then walked down to see the other falls, which kept getting bigger and bigger! We also saw where the main campground is located.  Saturday was like a day in paradise.  By the time it started to drizzle, we were ready for bed.

Sunday, we woke up to blue skies and sun.  We walked back down to one of the bigger falls.  Very quickly, the sky turned cloudy and it started to rain lightly.  And then it started to rain harder.  We decided to head back to the tents.  By the time we reached the tents, it was a hard downpour and a little river of water had started to take over the trail.  Waterfalls suddenly popped out of no where and lined the canyon walls.  We returned to the campsite to find that Mike and I had left our packs out of the tent.  All of my clothes were wet.   Eventually the rain stopped and we started to discuss what our exit strategy should be.  Originally, we had intended on hiking out Sunday late afternoon.  By this point, the river had turned to chocolate and the water fall near our campground tripped in size.

[Note: this picture is pre-flooding.  I will have to grab a good one from Dan of the chocolate river]

We decided to pack up the campsite and head into town. Initially we were told that a bridge at the edge of town was flooded and to be careful if we were headed out.  But no less than 20 minutes, as we were walking out of town, we were quickly flagged down and told that the canyon was closed.  Too much of a danger for flash floods.  We put our names on a helicopter list just in case the canyon didn't open up again and man oh man, it's a good thing we did because the canyon remained closed for the next 24 hours.

Eventually, the entire campground was evacuated.  As people started congregating on the basketball court outside of the elementary school, we started to hear all sorts of stories.  Two people were almost swept away by a flood, only to be caught at the last second.  Hikers who left earlier in the day were unaccounted for.  A flood seized 12 pack horses while the local riders were still out in the canyon awaiting a helicopter rescue.

Due to all the rescuing required, we were unable to get out Sunday via helicopter.  Instead, we had to spend the night at the school and hope that we would have better luck the next day.  The night felt much like spending the night in a refugee camp.  Everyone was sharing their story of how they arrived at the camp.  Water and food was passed out to the campers while rez dogs were everywhere you looked, hoping for a scrap of food to hit the deck.

We were told that the helicopter would begin again Monday morning at 8 am.  Translated to Indian time, the flights picked up again around 9:30 a.m.  We were the first on the list for the day and it was the best $85 spent.  Havasupi is a little oasis in the desert, but we were grateful to get out.  I was sick of being wet and had to get back to work on Tuesday.

Overall, I have to say we were really lucky.  We could have easily been in the canyon or in the lower campground when the flood occurred.  From now on, we take the monsoon season more seriously and I am going to invest in a dry bag for my clothes the next time I go.