Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fare thee well 2009

2009 only has a couple more hours remaining, but we wanted to get one more post up before the end of the year.

Dawn and the girls took Patrick up A Mountain in Tempe last Wednesday and Steven met them at Mill Avenue for a lunchtime snack. Then we spent a quiet Christmas Eve together topped off with a turkey dinner.

Christmas day was a nice day with Steven cooking omelets after opening presents. We enjoyed a nice lasagna dinner and then took Patrick to the airport to catch a red-eye back to Virginia.

A major Christmas gift that we gave out families this year was a book that Steven put together with 156 of his favorite photographs from the past year and a wall calendar displays some more photos. This is a project that had been long in the works and back on November 1st, everyone got up early to shoot family pictures at ASU. Steven arranged all of the shots and set the timer on the camera so he could get into the pictures. Below are some our favorite shots from that day.

See you in 2010.

Family Portraits

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Patrick in the Valley

On Wednesday Patrick arrived here in the valley and we have been running around showing him the area.

On Thursday, Dawn took Patrick on a tour of ASU and then Steven joined in for lunch. The girls demanded that they show Patrick off to their friends as they got out of school and then we took him to Organ Stop Pizza so he can witness the power of the Mighty Wurlitzer and its nearly 6,000 pipes. We had a great time and really enjoyed the music. They played a lot of songs that we had not heard before and it was great to hear these tunes.

Steven took Friday off and we took Patrick around some of the popular areas around the eastern part of the valley including Camelback Mountain, Downtown Phoenix, and we spent some time at Papago Park and Hole in the Rock. Then we grabbed the girls after school got out and headed to South Mountain to watch the sun set and the lights come on in Phoenix.

Then we took a couple of days to relax a little and to make the final preparations for Christmas.

Today, Dawn took them all to the Arizona Natural History Museum in Mesa where they had a lot of fun, especially panning for gold.

Below are some of the pictures that Steven took using a DSLR camera from work. It is similar to the one he wants to get. He has a lot of fun taking pictures in conditions that his camera can not handle and using a style he can not do with his camera.

Organ Stop Pizza

Hole in the Rock

South Mountain

Christmas Lights

Monday, December 14, 2009

The run up to the holidays

It is amazing how fast things can move. You think you are going to sit down and write a blog post about everything going on before Thanksgiving and suddenly it is mid-December.

Lexi's school had a really cool project where every sixth grader dressed up as some sort of historical character and presented a wax museum. Each student had to create a poster about their character, write a report, and memorize a little speech about the character. Then on the night of the wax museum, the students would stand like a statue until someone stepped on the "button" on the floor in front of them. Also from time-to-time, all of the students would sing a song together. Lexi selected Aphrodite as her character and did a real nice job. See a video of her speech and singing the song below.

Then Dawn was making a push to finish up her major project for class. She has enjoyed her class on nutritional health, but she is very glad the final exam is tomorrow.

We enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving and quickly put up our Christmas decorations. The house looks nice and I hope to get some pictures of the house and tree as soon as I stop fighting with my camera. Because my camera is not capable of adjusting all of the settings I need, nor does it have the range I need, I keep taking pictures that are unusable.

Thanksgiving weekend was also the running of the Arizona Ironman Triathlon. Once again we helped on the run course, but this time we were matched up with a bunch of folks from ASU's Student Recreation Center. We had a lot of fun cheering on and providing food and drinks to everyone from the Ironman Champion to the average person that just wanted finish before the course closed at the seventeen hour mark at midnight.

To keep things moving at a very fast pace, the next day Lindsey and I left for a week of Outdoor Education. Her school provides an opportunity to the eighth grade to spend a week on the Tonto Rim learning about the outdoors. They had some of the best weather that in several years, while it was cold every morning (it got to 19 on the last morning), it was sunny everyday. I went as the "Firegod" since I was in charge of keeping a very large cooking fire going for two days starting at about 6:30am till about 4:00pm.

We began the week by hiking up to a fish hatchery and it was funny seeing the kids stopping all the time to take group pictures on the way up. During the next three days, the students had classes on candle making, foil dinner cooking, rappelling, trust games, mountain boarding and scooters, drama, wilderness survival, the supreme court, and more. The last day, we all took a hike up to the caves to hangout before going back down to the buses to head home.

We were all assigned cabins, and I had double duty as a "cabin dad". There were a lot of competitions between cabins for cleanliness (mine did pretty good), skits, and spirit (mine one this one).

Lindsey had a lot of fun and I did my best to not embarrass her. I took a lot of pictures and instead of embedding them on the web page, here is a link to the online photo album.

As soon as we got back from Outdoor Ed, Lindsey had her Holiday Concerts. I have linked to some video of those below.

Crismon Wax Museum

Rhodes JHS Holiday Concert (part 1 of 2)

Rhodes JHS Holiday Concert (part 2 of 2)

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Arizona State Fair

It has been a crazy fall weather-wise. First off, it has not rained since Labor Day Weekend, we should have seen about an inch and a half of rain during the past two months. Then the last week of October brought near record cold. Two of those days had lows in the mid-30s and highs in the mid-60s. To keep things interesting, the temperatures returned to normal for Halloween and then the first week of November featured near record high in the low-90s.

Sunday was the final day of the Arizona State Fair and we took advantage of free parking & shuttle and free admission to the fair if we were there before noon. We enjoyed a day of walking around at the exhibits and booths at the fair. It was a great way to be reminded that AZ is more than just the urban area of Phoenix and the deserts that we love. One of our favorite areas was the submissions for the photography contests and some of the other crafts that were on exhibit at the fair. We are encouraging Steven to submit some of his pictures next year. The girls also enjoyed the animals and the petting zoo that was setup at the fair.

We love this time of year because of the cool nights and warm days, so you know more adventures are being planned for the upcoming weeks.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Homecoming and Halloween

What a Devilish day it was.

This year ASU's Homecoming fell on Halloween and the devilish theme was played up by the Sun Devils. We started the morning very early by helping to setup the ASU Online booth, but because I had promised to hang with the girls during the block party, we were able to leave the booth and enjoy the festivities when they began at 9am. Once again we took in the parade featuring the AZ Governor Jan Brewer as the Grand Marshall followed by visiting various booths. One of the neat things is that ASU kicked off a really interesting program called ASU Challenges at homecoming. Meanwhile, the girls had a blast throwing footballs and winning prizes by spinning wheels. We decided to pass on buying tickets to the football game this year, so we headed home as folks started to head to Sun Devil Stadium for the 12:30pm kickoff.

While at home watching the Sun Devils lose a heart-breaker on ABC to Cal, I finally finished my chainmaille shirt. This has been a project that I start almost ten years ago, but had put aside until I rediscovered it when we moved into the house here last year. I have been working very hard on it for the last year and I finished it at 3:30pm. As soon as the game was over, we started setting up for a cookout in the driveway.

This year, we had some folks over before the trick-or-treating festivities began by having a cookout in the driveway. This worked out great as the girls wanted to go off on their own this year with friends. Dawn & I hung out in the driveway all evening handing out candy and chatting with the neighbors until 9:30 when we decided that we had seen the last of the trick-or-treaters and the girls were back home.

One final note, I am told that the other 49 states switched from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, meaning that you are now only two hours ahead of us on the east coast (i.e. your 10pm = 8pm to us).

ASU Homecoming: