3 01 2008


This past weekend, we found out about an event at the Phoenix Zoo called Noon-Year’s Eve Party. It was for kids to celebrate the new year since most kids don’t stay up until midnight.  While it was fun to ring in the new year 12 hours earlier than normal, the real fun part was the mounds of snow that was made for the event. I don’t recall if the girls have seen or played with snow before, but all kids know how to play in the snow. Instinctively, Eliana was making snowballs. It sure was odd to have snow in the middle of Phoenix, but I’m glad there are organizations like the Phoenix Zoo that help bring a little bit of the winter wonderland to the middle of the desert.

Costume Time

28 10 2007

It’s the time of year again…Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. And then for us, the chaos continues through March with each birthday. So, for this year, Eliana decided that she wanted to be Alice from Alice in Wonderland this year. We thought it was a good choice. Her grandmother has been most generous in making her and her sister’s halloween costumes.


24 09 2007

I’m currently attending a photography workshop put on by Chris Marquardt, podcaster extraordinare of the Tips from the Top Floor podcast. One of the things that I think makes this workshop really work well are the assignments. The first one was rather vague. The assignment for this photo was “knobs”. Being an avid cyclist, I needed an excuse to check out the bike shop across the street from the workshop. I never knew I could take so many pictures of tires. After we completed our photography scavenger hunt, we handed in our best image. This is the one I submitted. On the LCD screen of my camera, it didn’t look too impressive, however, after seeing it in more detail, I could really see the detail of my handywork. I was quite pleased to turn in something good after starting off by handing in something fairly terrible. Thanks Chris!

Back to the Future

20 09 2007

So, today, we had a long exhausting day going from Durango to Silverton and back to Durango aboard the Durango-Silverton Express. Everyone was excited to go, and the ride was one to remember with great views of the Colorado Rockies.

It’s pretty late as I post this, and I have about 7 hours to drive to Denver tomorrow, so I won’t have a chance to go over much of the details of today. Suffice it to say everyone had a good time, and I recommend this excursion to any one out there considering a ride.

On the Road Again

19 09 2007

Yesterday was only a warm up to the trek we faced today. It was a long and noisy journey from Flagstaff to Durango. Google Maps plotted the route as being about 310 miles taking about 5 hours to complete. A quick detour to Monument Valley was a can’t miss opportunity, so we brought the kids to see some really nice looking rock formations. However, after paying to get into the visitor center, we felt we wouldn’t have enough time in the day to take the 2 hour self guided drive to see all the rock formations. I didn’t want to get a whole lot of clay dirt in the car, and we had already lost an hour since the Navajo Nation observes Daylight Savings.

So, off we went along highway 163 north into Utah. Then after more than 40 miles, take 162 east, and this will eventually catch the US 160 highway and get us back on track to Durango. In retrospect, it may have been just as quick to just turn around after visiting Monument Valley, but at least the route was scenic.

We also stopped by the Four Corners National Monument. I figured since we aren’t taking this route on the return trip, we might as well stop and say we were there. It was an interesting place to stop. I’ve seen many people report that it wasn’t worth the price of admission. I believe that my donation to the Navajo tribe will go to good use, or at least to help maintain the monument. The kids used the oppotunity to run around, not knowing that they were running across 4 states. And, it was rather weird to be in such a point, the only point in the United States where 4 states meet. The position of the state lines on the monument felt as though they were 45 degrees of axis; I hope they were poistioned correctly.  At least now, we can say we were there, and we have pictures to prove it.

Tomorrow promises to be a scenic and memorable day. We are taking a trip on the Durango-Silverton Express. This train was once used to haul silver and gold from Silverton to Durango. Tourists started taking the scenic ride only months after it was completed back in 1881 or so. Eliana is looking forward to it, as am I.  The train takes 3 hours to go 45 miles, so this isn’t a back breaking ride. I just hope the kids help us to enjoy the ride.

Our drive yesterday was short and sweet. With less than 3 total house of kid-consciousness to deal with, the yelling and screaming ended as soon as it started. Today was much more difficult. We stopped nearly every hour to let the kids out and stretch their legs. We lingered at lunch time to let the kids run around in the play area at Burger King. (The Navajo Code Talker exihibit in the Kayenta Burger King was very interesting.) In all fairness though, Annabelle is the one having the tough time. Eliana is quite content to sit in her seat for the whole day as long as we have the DVDs playing her favorite movies. Annabelle gets bored after about 10 minutes and starts crying. She is just not old enough to handle the whole trip. I don’t know how we’re going to get along on Friday when we drive up to Denver. That will be at least 6 hours of car time. Only 2 of which they will be asleep.

Maddy’s Birthday Party

5 11 2006

Today, we were invited to Maddy’s Birthday Party. Maddy is Eliana’s classmate, and yesterday she turned 3 years old. The party was at The Little Gym in Gilbert, AZ.

The Little Gym is a gymnastics studio for little children. It’s a great place to have a small birthday party. It wasn’t as loud and noisy as the party we went to for Eliana’s friend, Maya. While that was a nice play area, it seemed that everyone was on their own until we had pizza.  The Little Gym offered a more cozy play area with activities that involved the entire group of children.  I was actually amazed at how quickly the time went by, as I was having as much fun as the kids. I was also trying my best to take as many pictures as possible.

When we arrived, there was a gym leader present to collect the gifts. He was a nice guy, probably about my age. After I removed Eliana’s socks and shoes, we headed to the gym. It was a big play area, with another female gym leader waiting inside.  When I entered the gym room, I thought this area was geared more for teaching gymnastics to children, olympic style, than having fun.  But, after the first activity, I was proven wrong. The gym leaders were very kid friendly (almost a little too corny in some cases, but I don’t think the kids cared). There was a good mix of free play and organized activities.  It took Eliana a little time to get warmed up to the situation as it was very new to her. Soon, the gym leaders brought out an inflatable jumping platform. It was like a jumping castle, except that it had no top or sides, and it was rectangular, not square. Eliana was a little scared at first because they had the kids sit on it while it was inflated. One kid cried. Being a supportive dad, I helped Eliana start jumping. She immediately figured out what to do next, and started running and jumping all over the mat.

Pizza time came all too quickly, but it was after several fun kid activities. The pizza and cake was provided by Maddy’s parents, who were kind enough to reserve the gym as well. The room was small, but fit our party well. It is always fun to watch each kid eat pizza in their own unique way.  Eliana sat next to Maddy, and both of them ate their pizza much more calmly than any of the other kids.  It was in the pizza room that I realized, that I was the only dad who came without his wife. The other dad, was Maddy’s dad. Ella’s dad also showed up, but Ella’s mom also came. I didn’t feel too out of place, because I have met most of these people before.

In all, it was a nice afternoon party, even if it did come and go too quickly (it was only an hour and a half long). I hope we can have a party as fun as this for all of Eliana’s friends when she turns 3.

And, on a footnote: Being at this party has showed me that just by having Eliana go to school and meeting people, we are slowly establishing roots here. I was hoping to move out of Arizona so that it wouldn’t be so far for my kids to leave. I even felt that I knew everyone, and was getting comfortable with a certain community. Moving out of state will have to take a little more thought than I had originally planned.

Happy Halloween

31 10 2006

Annabelle was pretty tired after this evenings romp around the neighborhood for some free candy. She got all the ooo’s and aahhh’s from the people handing out candy. Baby girls always draw the “Oh, how cute” response…

Tonite was the one night of the year where we wander from house to house soliciting strangers for free candy.  This was the first year we all went out as a family trick-or-treating. We went to a coworkers neighborhood because I figured out neighborhood was so new, that there wouldn’t be too many kids out or people handing out candy.

Eliana was not very familiar with the concept of trick or treating. She wasn’t sure what the bag was for, and was a little shy about approaching strange people.  However, she did know what candy was, so all we had to do was tell her that everyone was giving her candy, and she was running from house to house as fast as we could go. Some houses were very well decorated, but most didn’t have more than a single skeleton or a decorative ghost hanging. Eliana was a great big sister because when she grabbed her candy, she would grab one for Annabelle.  Occasionally she would grab one and say “Mommy” and give it to her mom.

One thing that we noticed was that there were a few houses that would leave the candy out in front of the door and leave a note for the kids to grab one and leave some for everyone. This kind of approach is missing the real benefit of this kids holiday. Getting out of the house, meeting your neighbors, and having a good time with your friends and family while handing out candy is really the best part of this holiday. We saw a few house groups doing this on our outing, so overall, the neighborhood we went to was rather balanced.

It was a good night to spend with the family starting a new family tradition.