Monday, June 22, 2009

Water torture....

Last week, Hazel and Owen's swim classes started. I was so thrilled that Hazel's friend Alex was signed up for the same time slot as us. I thought this would make for much smoother sailing. And at first it appeared to be working. Here they are meeting their teacher and looking thrilled to be such big girls!

That was before Hazel realized that she would actually have to get in the water. Her teacher immediately made her put her face under water. Even though Hazel is deathly afraid of water being on her face, I was glad that the instructor was being so assertive. Then they went right into this:

Which led to this:

Little did she know it was only going to get worse. Her teacher made them tandem dive for objects on the bottom of the pool. On the FIRST DAY! Now I was starting to feel a little annoyed. My child was screaming bloody murder and clawing to get away and this girl just kept dunking her under the water. Now....maybe she isn't aware of this, but when you go under water with your mouth wide open, you choke on the water. Maybe I should have explained that to her.

Then they practiced this:
Which led to some more of this:
Every time the teacher let go of her, Hazel scrambled to get out of the water and perch safely on the side of the pool crying and looking wounded. I just don't quite get how this is at all productive. They didn't build any trust or take the time to get to know each other. Hazel just sees this girl as a human torture device and now starts crying every time she sees her. I had to talk to the manager and get her to tell Hazel's teacher that I would be hanging out by the side of the pool during classes and making sure that Hazel was not pushed past her comfort level. It just went too far. I am ALL for tough love, but it went beyond that point. She even had nightmares about swimming after that first class. Even though she is getting a little better about trying things, she is still crying through every class and does not trust her teacher at all. I can tell she is just waiting for the girl to throw her in the water at any moment. Poor baby.
In sharp contrast, her friend Alex loved every minute of it and volunteers to do everything and even wants the teacher to let go of her so she can do it "all by myself"

Here she is swimming to the edge:

And darn proud of herself!

Notice I have no pictures of Owen. I almost forgot he was even there. Just to fill you in, though, everything on his end is going just swimmingly (der der) and he looks like an old pro out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

After sleeping in Flagstaff in one of the worst hotels I have ever been to, we gladly packed up and headed out. Ok, fine- I will give a quick synopsis of this hotel. It was a Travelodge. Ever been to one? The funny thing is, while looking for our hotel, we passed one Travelodge of the seedy pay-by-the-week motel variety, and then soon after passed something else called Travelodge that looked slightly more than decent. Ours was somewhere in between. Here were my personal complaints (everyone had their own):

*The advertised "heated pool" was frigid (also the kids' top complaint) and when I called to make sure that said advertisement was accurate, the young man working at the front desk answered after 18 rings, answered my questions curtly (and with blatant lies), and hung up on me without any farewell. Then when Nathan took the kids down to the pool to freeze their bummies off, and headed to the front desk to report that, in fact the pool was NOT heated, the young man had a hard time getting off his cell phone to converse with Nathan.

*The room reeked of stale cigarettes.

*The in-room refrigerator that qualified this place as an "inn" didn't function.

*There was something brown splattered on the bathroom wall. This beats the dried up spaghetti under the armoire in our last hotel. Why is it that people don't think to clean a wall when cleaning a hotel bathroom. It seems SO obvious and sensible to me. I just don't get it.

*There was a conveniently located restaurant directly on the hotel property that started filling up with hootin', hollerin' drunkards at promptly 10:00 pm and continued to escalate the level of noise throughout the night.

And they couldn't even have comfortable beds to make up for it. I didn't sleep a wink.

Enough of that....

We started out with the meteor crater. Nathan and the kids had already been, but I had never seen this huge...hole. Nathan had mentioned that it was a little windy on his last visit, but nothing he said could have prepared any of us (including him) for this tempest that slapped us all across the face as we exited our car. We made the mistake of opening two doors at once and the crosswind ripped all loose articles from our vehicle. The one we couldn't catch was a plastic bag full of styrofoam chips (of course). It literally got sucked about 60 ft. into the air in a matter of half a second. Once all the styrofoam had spilled out all over the ground, the bag went CRAZY! Everyone stopped to was the talk of the town...or the crater. Also important to note- I dug a ponytail holder out of my bag, only to have it disappear into the wind as well.

Here we are approaching the crater. This is to give you an idea of the impact. See how the ground suddenly rises? Those aren't mountains...or hills. That is where the ground was pushed up from the impact of the crater. Amazing, right?

Cool sign on the side of the 3 mile road that leads to the crater.

Just to give you an idea! I had to hold my shirt down the whole time so my brasierre wouldn't show. I wasn't wearing a pretty one that day. The wind literally took my breath away. And I was afraid if I wasn't connected to Hazel at all times, she might float away.

Nathan tried to hold my hair down for this no avail.

As we are looking down at the crater, a huge shadow started to cover it. Have you seen Independence Day? I'm not going to pretend I didn't get a little freaked out.

Inside the museum. Don't my kids look like wax statues? I guess it was the lighting. Creepy.

After being sufficiently amazed by the crater, we continued on our way home. We decided to stop at a place called Montezuma's Castle. We have passed this place so many times, and even stopped at the Sonic located right outside it's entrance, but we have never stopped to see what it was all about. Luckliy Natalie and Richard had looked it up and were interested enough to check it out. It was pretty stinking awesome. Montezuma had never actually lived there, but it was just as interesting as if he had.

I can see why the Sinagua chose this spot. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There was a creek nearby and beautiful trees and wildlife all around.

It was fun to see all these touristy things so close to our home that we have never checked out.
I love Arizona.
And I love this sweet little face...

And these crazy little farts...

Okay...that's the end of our forever long weekend. And now it's already the next weekend. So let's move on to more interesting things, shall we?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day two of our travels.... back to our little miniature road trip. We hopped in the car the second day to head up to Flagstaff. HA! I love how I say "hopped in the car" as if it's just such a breeze to get my kids packed up and situated. Natalie and Richard met us at our house in the morning- at the -time we told them to meet us- and then ended up having to sit in their car and wait for almost an hour for us to get our crap together. Life with kids. Yay.

I just love this drive! Even with kids. I love Phoenix, and I love driving north of Phoenix- leaving the city and seeing everything turn all deserty and then the cacti pop up everywhere and you drive further and further into the hills and then you get to Sedona and see this popping up outside your window:

I mean, really...who could ever get sick of that?! This state's landscape is so diverse and beautiful. I have already been here 3 yrs. (can you believe that?) and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. In fact, as I've said before, I think I have grown to love it even more than the first time I laid eyes on it. So I, for one, enjoyed the drive just as much as, if not more than, the rest of the trip.

One of our stops in Sedona was to see the only McDonald's that doesn't have golden arches. In Sedona, they gave it turquoise arches to blend in and complement the town's main attractions. We kind of thought there were actually going to be big arches instead of this little wall, but it was still fun- because we had fudge sundaes.

Once we got into Flagstaff, I found plenty of opportunities (scenic overlooks) to make the kids pose for pictures. It's so fun to visit Flagstaff in the winter to play in the snow, but I had no idea how gorgeous it is this time of the year. The weather was perfection and everything was in bloom. I'm pretty sure I want to live there.

How cute are they?!?!?! I just can't get over how grown up my kids are. At one of our stops, we used these little mountainside toilets. I couldn't get a great picture, but it was basically this huge, dark abyss poorly disguised by a toilet seat. Hazel was a little apprehensive, and I could totally understand why. It was so far down that you couldn't even hear when her pee finally hit bottom. That's a little unnerving!!! Who knows? Maybe it is still floating down right now trying to find an appropriate landing spot.

We visited Flagstaff's famous Lowell Observatory. I missed out on getting to look through the huge telescope the night before, but I did get to participate in the tour the next morning, and it was pretty awesome.

Here's the building where Pluto was discovered. Cool? I think so. Sure, Pluto is no longer recognized as a planet, but it was a planet long enough for me to think it was pretty spectacular to see the exact spot where it was discovered!

Here's the original observatory:

which houses this huge telescope. This telescope was made partially with random scrap materials- parts of it are made from old bike parts (you can see bicycle chains, etc. all over it) and one part of it is even made out of an old frying pan. Genius.

So- those were our awesome sights for that morning....tomorrow you can sign back on to see our pictures of the giant meteor crater. Aren't you excited?!?!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stinkin' Cute

We interrupt the much anticipated (boring) travel log to bring you this special guest appearance by Sleeping Beauty.

Hazel loves dressing up. I'm assuming most little girls do. This is her one and only dress-up costume, but that doesn't stop her from getting excited every time she puts it on. This time she added wings, blue "Cinderella" earrings and lots of bling to the ensemble and then asked me to take a picture.

Here is a close-up of her make-up. When she wants to wear make-up she smears her lip gloss all over her eyes and cheeks and lips. It's quite becoming.

After her photo session, she ran into my room to look at herself in the mirror and proclaimed,
"HOLY COW! I am SO stinkin' cute!"

And her latest quote that took me by surprise "Mom. Your hair is WAY too brownish. You need to get more sunshine."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Touristy treasures....

Nathan's sister, Natalie, and her husband, Richard came for a visit this past weekend. We took them around Phoenix and a little further north to see some of the touristy things we could think of. The first day we visited the Phoenix Children's Museum. I know I have posted pictures of this place before, but I just love it. It's just so darn cute and my kids could have stayed all day.

*Disclaimer- All pictures from this weekend were taken on my cell phone.

Owen had to be snagged for a picture

Here is an example of some of the cool artwork.. a fish made from recycled plastic bottles. So creative.

I think this was our favorite exhibit of the day. These are vacuum tubes that you can shove scarves in and watch them make their way to the top, shoot out, and float down for you to catch.

Hazel liked to change the direction of the tubes to be right on her level so they would shoot out into her face.

And she also liked her reading time with Aunt Natalie ...

She jumped in one of these tubes and started running in place and clawing at the walls and said "Look! I'm one of those things!" Luckily Aunt Natalie was smart enough to figure out that she meant a hamster....I would have guessed crazed lunatic.
Day two will be documented tomorrow.....