Friday, December 31, 2010

Yes Virginia, there is a grinch

This year we decided that instead of being outside on a warm and sunny Christmas Day, we should be with family on the east coast. So after careful planning, we invaded Virginia.

We began the trip with a red-eye flight out of Phoenix to Newport News via Atlanta where we managed to get a little sleep. It was so cold at the Atlanta airport that we briefly considered heading back to Arizona to warm back up. We were met at the airport by Steven's parents and Dawn's mom. For lunch a special request was fulfilled, Pierce's PITT BBQ. After settling in at Steven's parent's house, where we were staying, it was time for a trip to Pembroke Mall, especially for Steven since all of his winter coats were two sizes too large.

Monday night was when Steven's old Boy Scout Troop met so he took the girls to the meeting to see some of the leaders he used to work with and for the girls to also see some of their old friends. The church was also performing their live nativity scene that night so we were able to see a couple of other folks as well. Meanwhile Dawn went to visit some old friends at the school she used to teach massage at.

Tuesday Steven, Dawn, and Lindsey went to visit ODU. Walking across campus it was funny to run into folks that just kinda stared as they were trying to figure out of it was us or not. We met up with Dawn's sister and then headed over to the distance learning building to see friends and former co-workers. For lunch, we met with my Master's advisor and several friends from the Instructional Design & Technology program, several of whom I worked with - it was great catching up with what everyone was doing now. We wandered campus some more seeing old friends and co-workers from both the computer center and athletics. But a real treat was meeting up with an old friend in the alumni office that was able to get us in to see the newly remodeled football stadium. That was a lot of fun and now we have to figure out how to get there for a football game. We tried to see a lot of people and there were people we missed because they were either out or we ran out of time, we hope to see them next time. After a full day at campus, Steven's parents, Lexi, and Dawn's mom and sister all met for a quick bite to eat and then to see the ODU Lady Monarchs win a game. After the game, the girls headed home with Dawn's mother for the night. She brought them back late the next afternoon.

Wednesday was a slower day where we started by hanging out with Steven's parents. Dawn had wisely decided we needed to get some alone time and booked us a room at the Hilton on 31st Street with an ocean view. We enjoyed a very cold and breezy stroll on the Boardwalk before going to dinner at Catch 31. Afterwards, we used free passes that Steven's dad had to drive through the Holiday Lights at the Beach.

Thursday started off to a visit to Steven's mom at her office, where Dawn used to give chair massages. Then Steven and Dawn finishing up shopping and meeting up with friends, followed by his parents and the girls meeting us at Fuddrucker's. Once again, the Alumni Office hooked us up with great tickets for the ODU Men's Basketball game. The six of us enjoyed sitting up in club seating area to watch the team win.

Friday morning, Christmas Eve, had the four of us, Steven's parents, and Dawn mom all in a van together heading to Dawn's hometown of Orange. Dawn took us on a tour of her hometown, including the church she grew up in, before heading to her aunt's for the annual Christmas Eve gathering. Dawn really enjoyed seeing her Dad, aunts and uncles, and cousins. This was the first time Steven's parents had met these folks and a good time was had by all.

Steven started Christmas morning by making chocolate chip cinnamon rolls. The four of us and Steven's parents opened gifts in the morning. Later on Dawn's sister and mom came over as well as Patrick and his girlfriend (Nicole) and we opened more gifts. Unfortunately, Dawn's sister and mom left early due to the threat of snow (it was already falling on the Peninsula). Then Steven's sister and her family arrived from North Carolina, followed by more food and gifts. Then we looked outside and noticed that the snow was falling and already sticking to the ground.

Sunday morning there was several inches of snow on the ground and it was still falling. So Steven and the girls went out to throw snowballs at each other, clean off the driveway and make a snowman. By the time we were ready to go to the Grate Steak, several more inches had fallen and we had to clean the driveway again. Once we got there, the only people in the restaurant was the four of us, Steven's parents, and Steven's sister's family (Kevin and their two girls). The ten of us were well looked after while we were there. When we finally got home, we had to clean the sidewalks off AGAIN, and the snow was still falling. We were supposed to spend the afternoon with Patrick, Nicole, and her family and there was no way we were not going to see them. So the four of us piled into a truck that Steven's dad has and went to Nicole's house. Yes, the road were slippery and somehow we plowed through the snow in the cul-de-sac where Nicole's parents live. We had a great time talking with Nicole's parents and seeing Patrick again, but we had to cut it short so that we could get home because the snow was still falling. After some maneuvering, we finally got the truck out of the cul-de-sac and hit the treacherous roads. We finally got back to Steven's parents without any issues. For the record, the snow is listed as the third biggest snow storm in Hampton Roads history at 14.2 inches.

But the roads cleared enough on Monday that we were able to fly out of Newport News and arrive back in Phoenix (via Atlanta) at home and be back in our own beds shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. We were very glad not to be flying through New York or Philly, we observed several folks that were rescheduled to a January 2nd flight, but were playing the standby lottery for an earlier flight into those cities. Of course, we arrived in Phoenix in time for winter storm to hit here bringing with it cold wind, rain, and freezing temperatures. Some spots in the valley even saw a brief snow flurry, but not us.

We had a great time and we enjoyed seeing everyone. We wish we would have had more time to see everyone longer and to see more people. However, we recommend you come and see us in the winter where we are usually a bit warmer than the east coast.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rhodes Holiday Concert

Lexi's band at school had their holiday concert. The Cadet Band is the first year band and is made up of mostly 7th graders. Lexi is there and you can occasionally see her head.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rhodes Fall 2010 Arts Concert

Lexi's guitar class had their fall concert on December 8th. She is of course way in the back row.

Rhodes Fall 2010 Band Concert

Back in October, Lexi had her first band concert. She is the way back, but she is there.

Dobson High School Fall 2010 Dance Concert

Lindsey had her first dance concert at Dobson back in November.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It was a stormy, dark week...

...but it did get better in the end.

On Saturday (10/2) we still had a high temperature above 100, but we were told things were going to change. On Monday, the storms started to roll through and Lindsey got soaked on the way home from school.

The real storms hit on Tuesday. While Steven was at the Downtown Campus, they were hit by a wind storm that was knocking over trees. Meanwhile Dawn was at home watching pea size hail pile up in the yard. Storms kept pounding Mesa and Dawn saw rain fall hard enough that she could not see the house behind our and watched our street flood. The storms kept coming. Dobson High School delayed releasing students at the end of the school day because of a Tornado Warning and the trees that were falling down all over the neighborhood justified that decision. While we had no damage, there were many streets in our neighborhood with tree branches and even whole trees in them. Steven left the Downtown Campus on the campus shuttle back to Tempe only to get caught in a hail storm in Downtown Phoenix. Fortunately, he clouds parted and Steven biked home from Tempe under blue skies.

But what Steven saw an the way home was stunning. While there was some minor flooding in Tempe, there was little if any damage. However, as he was pedaling on the bike path less than a mile from home, he came across a stretch of destruction. For a half mile the 30 to 40 foot tall power poles had all fallen and almost everyone of them hit a house. All of the houses in between were draped in high tension power lines. The only thing that stopped the dominoes was the fact that there were metal poles along the line that held.

As of today (10/11), all of the poles have been cleared away and new metal poles have been put in place. Judging from how the equipment was setup, they will begin stringing up new power lines tomorrow. Since the storms, until today, the high temperatures have stay below 90 degrees.

The day after the storm brought more darkness.

Bike thief, I hate you.Steven's office was moved earlier in the Summer from the Tempe Campus to the new SkySong "innovation center" that the University created in Scottsdale. Steven biked to work as usual, but when he left earlier to go to Lexi's band concert (to be featured in a future post), he found his bike lock cut and the bike stolen. What makes things even worse is that there was an incident two weeks earlier where the headlight was stolen off the bike and the building security team promised to keep an eye out. The bike that was stolen was the one Steven bought when he arrived in Arizona, a mountain bike that had been converted into a commuter bike. He had stopped riding his old red road bike due to the back wheel being bent, but Dawn was able to call around and managed to get it repaired by Friday evening.

2010 Tempe Tour de FatHaving a bike on Saturday morning was a big deal, it was the annual Tour de Fat that is run by the New Belgium Brewery in honor of their beer Fat Tire. The Brewery does a lot of work supporting cyclist and as the MC said "We are not anti-car, just pro bike." A great feature of the festival is the "parade" of bikes through the streets of Tempe by thousands of riders, many that are costumed. The girls were very excited that we were able to ride despite all of the drama of the week.

Talking about the drama, I (Steven) is very happy that Dawn was able to get the bike repaired. It was not in the budget, but she figured out what to do in getting the bike repaired and made it happen. Also, my Director and Dean went to bat for me so that I can keep my bike in the office. I am very appreciative of the support.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oops, I forgot to post things here

You might have thought that we forgot about the blog. We had not forgotten about it. We kept meaning to post things, but we just never did.

So what have we been up to. A lot of different things. Instead of recounting what we have been doing, I showcase the pictures of things we have done.

First, I hope you are keeping up with my photo of the day. I have posted a picture everyday since I received my new camera.

Next, the Tempe Town Lake drained one night when the dam burst. Of course I was there the next morning documenting the destruction. The good news is that they are building a new dam and they hope to have the lake refilled in time for the Arizona Ironman.

For our anniversary we finally went to Sedona and Jerome. It was cloudy and rained almost the entire time, which allowed us a unique view of the area that you normally do not get until November - except that it was still warm.

We promise to get back to posting things more often.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Arizona Renaissance Festival

Saturday was not just the Spring Equinox, but also a day for us to visit the Arizona Renaissance Festival. The festival is located about a 30 minute drive from us, just east of the Superstition Mountains.

We made sure that we attended all three jousting tournaments. The first one ends with no real winner declared after a great spectacle of the catching rings on their lances, running obstacle courses, and then jousting each other. The second one ends with a bit of a temper tantrum with two knights challenging the two to a "duel to the death". The final joust ends with all of the knights eventually being dismounted and then engaging in sword play. At one point, an "evil" knight wields a flaming sword. But in the end a "good" knight wins.

We also caught a show of a guy that does all sorts of neat tricks with a whip, including one that is on fire as he uses it.

There were a lot of street entertainers and costumes to see. We started planning what we might wear for Halloween and next year's ren faire.

The girls had a blast and it was a beautiful spring day that was nice and warm. Yes, we all did come home with a little sunburn from the AZ sun, but it was a very mild one.

This was also the end of Spring Break for the girls, they go back to school on Monday.

Pictures from the Arizona Renaissance Festival:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting back to normal

First and foremost, Steven got his bike back today! So after a long seven and half weeks, he will begin biking to work again. The weather has been cooperating, and we are looking forward to the high temperatures getting into the mid-80s this week with the lows still hovering in the low 50s. Plus the girls are on spring break this week, so the good weather is a very welcome thing after the soggy February we just had (1.36" - 19th wettest on record) the followed the 4th wettest January (2.43").

Not too long ago, Lindsey had another chorus concert and Steven recorded (see video below). He has also been having fun with his new camera. He has made a point to take a picture everyday that he shares on Flickr. Take a look at the album below.

Dawn picked up tickets for us all to go to Senior Day for the ASU Men's Basketball team. It was great to see ASU wallop UCLA from the tip, but it was sad to see ASU miss the NCAA Tournament despite finishing second in the Pac-10 Conference during the regular season.

Steven also took a day off to join Lexi and her class for a field trip to Chase Field. They enjoyed getting a behind the scenes tour that included the visiting team's locker room and the home team dugout.

Chase Field Tour:

Picture of the Day:

Friday, March 5, 2010

So even though Steven's bike isn't fixed yet, I decided it was time to get back on my bike. It suddenly hit me that the triathlon that I want to participate in is only 9 weeks away. So all sorts of activity this week. Monday and Wednesday involved walking/jogging with Tuesday being a bike day. I am averaging about 2 miles on the walk/jog and about 10 on the bike rides. Thursday I combined them trying to simulate doing both of them in one day. I did ok. I spent too long in the transition area( the house) but did ok with doing both activities in one day. I included some weight lifting and then after weeding the front yard I took Violet for a walk. So yesterday was an active day. I was hoping to get another active day in today, but had to go to ASU to solve some problems with my registration there. That took most of the morning and then getting a wedding present for some friends took up a good chunk of the afternoon. So I guess I will have to find some time this weekend to squeeze in the exercise. My plan is to ride my bike to work on Monday and Wednesday and on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week do the double thing again. I am doing the weightlifting every day.

I had forgotten how meditative getting in the groove when exercising can be. Lots of random thoughts going through the brain when you are out on the bike. I know that part of my problems with food are hating to cook for myself and feeling as if being able to buy lunch out gives me a sense of doing something for my self. In the past I used to take that as the only thing that I could do for my self. Since moving out here, Steven has worked hard to make sure I knew that I came first to him atleast. It has taken some time but I am finally ready to believe it. I have spent some time convincing myself of it and I feel as if it is finally starting to take hold.

Oh well onto the plan for the next week. Well Saturday we are going to get our veggies from Bountiful Baskets a food coop we belong to. Then off to an ASU Men's basketball game. Somewhere in there will be some physical activity of some sort. Jogging atleast 3 days next week with bicycle riding 4 days. Weight lifting 4 days and sit ups atleast 4 days. I want to improve distances next week. I am not worried about time right now. At this point I am not swimming, as our pool is still too cold for me to get in so I will have to simulate some swimming strokes here with the weights until I can get in the pool.

lost inches this week. will post more later

Friday, February 26, 2010

well, my friends are blogging about their weight loss and I just sit here getting fatter. This year has been overwhelming so far. Christmas was wonderful, had Patrick out here, the weather was nice, got good grades in my class I was taking. The students I teach earned good grades so I felt awesome. Steven got me both Jillian Michaels Ultimate Fitness and Wii Active for Christmas so I had workout plans for indoors until I can get outside again. Christmas day Patrick left to go back to Virginia. I didn't realize that I was so exhausted until after he left. I started back to teaching on January 4th and picked up a lot of substituing at work. The paycheck liked it but the good exercise habits I was hoping to build didn't materialize. I find that right now I am having issues in putting on 3 or 4 different sets of clothes in one day. I don't like it. It bothers me to make that much laundry or exert that much effort. So when something came along to stop it I didn't put up much of a fight. In January we had some fantastic rain storms. Of course Steven was still riding his bike, but picked up a stone during one of the storms and did horrible things to his brakes and rims. So his bike has been out of operation since the middle of January. Having to take him to the metro atleast 2 days(if not all 5) a week and substituting made sure I didn't ride my bike or keep up my exercise routine when I got home. I don't always appreciate an audience(my children) that tells me they can do it better or that I am doing it wrong so I don't exercise when they are home. So there has been no exercise since his bike broke which is about 6 weeks now. I have also taken this semester off from classes and have found that I drifted from my goals a little. The break has been good, but I am ready to go now. Steven keeps telling me public accountability helps so counting on y'all for some help.

It was my goal to run in a 5k on the day before Valentines Day. It was a source of major disappointment when I didn't run. However, I did take Steven out for a wonderful Valentines dinner at the J&G Steakhouse atop the wonderful Phoneican Resort on Camelback Mountain. Finding some thing to wear was a real pain in the butt and he will tell you he saw about 3 outfits before i got in the car. so new goals:
I want to particpate in the SheRox( sprint distance triathlon on May 8th. That is a half mile swim, a 13 mile bike ride and a 3 mile run. I feel as if I can do the bike ride already. The swim will probaby be the most challenging since it is still a little cool for the pool(at least to my thinking). The run would just be reallllllllly slow right now. So I plan on getting back in the saddle by training for it and telling you all about my progress. Steven can take pictures with his spiffy new camera and you can tell me about your efforts. Send me pictures of you too so that we can encourage each other no matter what our goals.

right now here are my stats(no laughing or gasping)
weight no idea not going to find out yet
neck 14.5
upper arm 14
bust 44.5
waist 40.5
abdomen 46.5
hips 46
thigh 26
size 16/18

to reduce that size down to a 10
by July 1

bike ride would like to be doing 100 mile rides by Sept 1 with Steven
swim want to be able to swim that mile
running: 1/2 marathon by next January?
hiking with Steven on the hard hikes by the fall

Secondary goal: to knock Steven's socks off when on our 16th anniversary August 1st I put on a dress that is so little and sexy that he has to deal with all the other guys looking at me when he takes me to dinner.(Start saving dear!!!!!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Slow month

Despite having some great weather, we have not been able to get out to do much. The first problem is that both of my bikes have had severe mechanical breakdowns. The good news is that my commuting bike has repairs underway.

However, I suspect we will be getting out more soon. I have recently purchased a new camera, a Nikon D-5000. So you can expect some fantastic pictures on this site in the near future. One of the things I am going to try to do is take at least one picture a day with the camera and post the best one of the day to an online web album.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Lindsey!

Today Lindsey turned 14 and Steven shot some portraits for her.

Snow Day!

With all of our east coast friends being buried in snow, we decided not to be left out. The high country had been hit with a lot of snow over the last two weeks so we headed out on US 60 to see what we could find.

Before we got to Globe, we found a great spot with a waterfall on the side of the road. While there was not any snow here, we did find some rock climbers on the rock face.

Eventually we hit a high enough elevation where there was a lot of snow and we pulled off into one of the Tonto National Forest campgrounds to have a little fun. Of course a snowball fight immediately took place, but we explored the area some to find a beautiful wilderness setting for out snow fun. The girls made snow angels and snowmen, but made sure the snowmen met an early end.

On the way out, we taught the girls a valuable lesson about how to get a car unstuck from the snow and up an icy hill. Steven knew that on the way in that it might be iffy on getting out, but felt that it could be done. There were tire tracks in the snow most of the way to the pavement, but the car still got stuck halfway up. So with Dawn behind the wheel and Steven with the girls teaching them how to dig out the snow from the tires and how to "rock" the car up hill we were able to get up the drive onto the main road with no issues.

We had a nice lunch by a full Salt River at the Salt River Canyon and then continued on to Show Low. Originally we had planned to play in the snow between Show Low and Payson, but they had received another four to eight inches of snow in the middle of the week and many of the side roads that we would have pulled off on had a two to three foot snow bank blocking them.

So how do you unwind after such a fun day in the wintery snow? By opening the windows of the house up the next day to let in the warm air of course.

Once again, Steven was fortunate enough to borrow a real camera (Nikon D-80) so he could take these great pictures.

Between Superior and Globe:

Fun in the snow at Tonto Rim National Forest (US 60 past Globe):

Salt River Canyon:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Surviving the storm of the century

Right now we are in the middle of the "wet" season where we get about an inch of rain a month. Often a huge winter storm will hit the state dropping a lot of snow at places with an elevation of 5000 feet or more, while we see a quarter inch of rain. Not this past week.

Two storms hit the area with the first one starting to move in on Sunday and lasting til Tuesday. This storm dropped a lot of rain on the area where we saw over an inch of rain on Tuesday night alone. Then the second storm hit Thursday morning and brought with it sustained winds in our neighbor of over 55MPH, the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in Phoenix, and a lot more rain. Things finally cleared out on Saturday. When it was all said and done, we had almost 2.5 inches of rain in our neighborhood.

Some of the media folks were calling this the storm of the century due to the massive flooding that occurred, especially to the north and west when they had over seven inches of rain in one day. We survived with only minor damage to a few roofing shingles that Steven fixed on Saturday.

Here are some pictures that Steven took during the storm this week. Steven was fortunate enough to borrow a real camera for a while so he could take better pictures.

Most neighborhoods have a park that is designed to become a storm water retention basin during heavy rain:

We can see snow on the mountains in the distance:

Bonus picture! A couple of weeks ago, the girls took a polar bear plunge in the pool: