Monday, August 11, 2014

Our California Adventure



The last week of June we took a few days for a family vacation to San Diego. We piled into our Durango with all our camping gear and plenty of snacks and headed West. We spent the first night (Friday) in Animas at my parent's house so that we would've have to wake up quite so early the next morning. Saturday we got up, piled into our car, and headed to Tucson, AZ where we had a stop to make. We decided that is was time that we become a two family car and had decided to buy something in Tucson on our way through. The plan was to buy something small, economical, and with a working A/C (all of which our Durango is not), park our Durango at a friend's house, and drive the new car to San Diego, picking up the D. on our way home. We had enough money to pay cash, but due to some mistakes with a money transfer we only had access to half of our funds. We didn't think it would be a big deal, since we'd still be able to put down 3/4 of the purchase price in cash we figured financing the last couple thousand dollars would be easy. Turns out banks don't like to lend that small of an amount. Especially when you're from out of state. And have no credit history. So basically we spent an entire day hanging around the dealership (outside, because it was a tiny place and they didn't have room for us in there) in the baking heat of a sunny Tucson summer day and had no car to show for it. Finally, we just paid what we could put down, and left the new car to wait for us to come back from San Diego and pick it up on our way home, after our money situation had been worked out. 
This left us in our not air conditioned car for the drive across the deserts of Southern Arizona. 111 degrees. With 2 kids. Luckily we had come prepared to deal with this potential situation. I had several gallons of water and a couple of spray bottles. I draped a light weight blanket, soaked with water, over Sharli's car seat so she could benefit from the evaporative cooling effect that would produce. Erik and Ethan had a water fight with the spray bottles until Erik was ready to take a nap, at which time he was wrapped in a blanket just like Sharli's and ended up getting so cold he was shivering when he woke up. Ethan and I tried to keep cool with the water as best we could, but we were both fighting heat exhaustion when we stopped in Yuma for dinner. It was one of the more miserable drives I've ever been on, but we survived, and had a lot of fun on the rest of our trip. We pulled into San Diego late that night and set up camp, right next to my parents, Marquette and Cameron, and some of our Neil cousins.
Sunday we enjoyed a lazy morning, then we made a bee-line for the beach. This is how Sharli spent most of her beach time...
 Erik employed a bit more creativity. He would run and splash in the water until he got too cold, then he'd either sit and snuggle with Grandpa or Grandma or...
...find some nice warm sand to play in. 
 The adults all took turns between staying on the beach with the babies and going out to play in the surf. Here's a shot of the guys out swimming in the waves.
That's them WAY out there. That tiny black dot. No, the other tiny black dot. Oh well.
While in San  Diego we also visited the Point Loma lighthouse, toured the USS Midway, ate some fresh fish (and chips, of course), rode the ferry over to Coronado Island, and just enjoyed the time spent with our family.
Point Loma Lighthouse
 Riding the ferry:

Our ride back to Tucson wasn't nearly as bad as we'd gotten an earlier start to our day. We were able to pay the rest of our money and pick up our new car, so Ethan and the kids drove it home while I followed in the Durango. We really like the new car, which is a VW Passat, and especially love the money it's saving us on gas! 
Despite the hot ride and the long drive we loved the time we got to spend with our family. And San Diego is always amazing, so of course we had a marvelous time!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Adventures at White Sands National Monument

Back in March we took a weekend and went down to hang out with my family. On a Friday evening, we met up with Heber, Kett, Cameron, and Darrow in Las Cruces and spent the night at the KOA campground there. We were going to stay at a nearby state park, but by the time we got there that evening it was already filled up, so we had to go with our back up plan. 
  The guys weren’t so sure about “camping” in town in a commercial camp ground, but I think they ended up being somewhat impressed. There are definitely some perks to being nearer to civilization!
Saturday morning we ate breakfast, broke camp and headed over to White Sands National Monument to spend several hours playing on the dunes. 
The huge stretches of pure white everywhere you look are just beautiful. The weather was gorgeous, just sunny enough to be warm and just windy enough to keep things comfortably cool. 
We all had fun, but one of my favorite parts of being there was watching Erik have fun.

 He LOVED the sand!
 He jumped and dug and ran and climbed and played hard all day. 
We set up an area that was (somewhat) sand free for the babies and the sickies (more on that later) and we were able to enjoy the messiness of the sand without it taking over.

When we were all worn out and starving (who takes time to eat lunch where there is such fun to be had?!) we loaded back into the cars and headed towards Animas to visit Grandma and Grandpa Richins. It was Grandma’s and Heber’s birthday that weekend, so we had big plans to party the rest of our weekend away. We got there that evening worn out and covered in sand, so we all got cleaned up and enjoyed just being around each other. That night though, all fun pretty much ceased. Kett had started throwing up while we were at White Sands and we thought maybe she’d just eaten something bad. Then Heber started in with it Saturday night. Then it hit me about midnight, with Erik joining in a few hours later. By morning Cameron was in on the “fun” as well, so we all skipped church and stayed home to fight over whose turn it was to hug the toilet. Mom, Dad, and Ethan were so sweet to all us sickies and made sure that we were all as comfortable as could be. It was such a relief to know that I could lay around and toss my cookies all day and still have the baby be taken care of.
By Monday we were all mostly back to normal, so we gave Carolyn the go-ahead to come over from Thatcher with her boys and join in on the party. Erik and Wyler played outside and were absolutely covered in dirt, so they ended up getting tossed in the tub for a bit before Ethan and I loaded up our kids and headed back towards Belen.

Even with the vast amounts of vomit, this was a fun trip. We made some good memories and had lots of time to just be around each other and visit. I’m looking forward to getting back down to Animas again soon, and hopefully things will go a bit smoother next time! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

On the Move

As I mentioned in my last post, we are now living in Glenwood, NM where Ethan is very happily working for the NM Game and Fish Hatchery.
Getting ourselves ready to move in less than three weeks was a lot of work, but we did it just in time. The hatchery has a house for us to live in, so all we had to do was load our stuff up and head down to Glenwood. 
We rented a U-Haul truck and did almost all the loading on our own, although we did call the missionaries to help up move a few of the heavier items that we couldn’t get alone. 
Erik thought he’d died and gone to heaven. He helped carry some of the smaller/lighter boxes and supervised the loading of the truck (along with his two newest buddies, Mike and Sully).


At one point, Erik and I were taking a break in the back of the moving van when Erik held up his toys and said, “Mom, Mite and Suyee SO etided!” I thought I knew what he meant so I asked “Why are Mike and Sully so excited?” His response? “Mite and Suyee so etided TRUCK!”  After that bit of cuteness, it was decided that Erik, “Mite”, and “Suyee” would all ride in the big truck with Daddy for the drive, while Sharli and I followed in our car. And that’s exactly what we did. The drive was through some really beautiful country, and the weather was mostly great. We did hit one pretty big cloud burst, but it only lasted a few minutes and we were a few minutes too late to get hit by the worst of it. We do know it was worse though, because at one point we had to drive through more than an inch of hail on the road.
We pulled in to the Hatchery in the early afternoon to be greeted by my Aunt, her family, and several members of our new ward. They had the truck unloaded and our bellies stuffed with yummy burritos before we knew what hit us. They left us to get settled, and a few hours later the Relief Society president showed up with an amazing dinner, prepared for us by several of the ladies in our new ward. Talk about yummy!!!

We love our new home, Ethan loves his new job, and we are very happy with our new life!!! 
A glimpse of our front yard...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Quick Update...

Life is such a grand adventure! Almost 2 months ago now Ethan got a phone call that has changed our lives. He was offered a new job that is more in line with his dream career path and we couldn't say no. They wanted him to start at the beginning of the upcoming pay period which meant we only had about 2 weeks to pack up and move to our new home. We worked hard and were ready to go just in time. May 24th we moved in to our new home in the Gila mountains of southern New Mexico, where Ethan is working for the NM Game and Fish Glenwood Fish Hatchery.
We love our new home! There are birds singing in the trees all around our house (which has a HUGE fenced yard for Erik to run and play in; a first for our family) and deer grazing on our front lawn almost every morning when we wake up. A pretty mountain stream runs by just a short stroll from our front gate, and down the road a little ways is a pond filled with fish and frogs and surrounded by fruit trees and berry bushes. It's more than an hour's drive from the nearest town of any size (Silver City), so it's fairly remote, but we love it.
We have been slow getting our internet set up, so I haven't been able to blog (I'm actually staying the night at Marquette's house tonight and using her computer, thus you get to hear from me) or facebook or anything or that sort. I can't wait to get things up and running at my new home so I can share pictures with you of all the great things we've been getting to enjoy and the beautiful places we get to see. For now I'll just have to leave you waiting while we go back to our mountain paradise where Erik will be rolling in the dirt and splashing in the creek and living life as every little boy should, while I sit in the hammock in the front yard and watch him frolic.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sharli Olive

And now for the long over-due post about the latest update to our family:
Sharli Olive Mower 
I was due on Feb. 7th, but when baby hadn't made her appearance by the 13th, we took matters into our own hands. Grandma Paralee came to stay with Erik, and Ethan and I headed to Albuquerque to kick this baby out of there. 
First though, we took advantage of the free babysitting and headed to Olive Garden for a nice date night. 
 We got to the hospital around 8:30 pm (on the 13th). By about 10:30 the nurses had started my pitocin and things slowly got started. We whiled away the time trying to sleep, watching the Olympics, and playing cards. Around 3:30 am we called Grandma Kathleen (as per her request) and let her know that if she wanted to be there when the baby came she'd better hit the road. She made it there with an hour to spare, and it was neat to get to have her there with us.
Sharli Olive was born at 5:41 am on February 14, 2014. She weighed 7 lbs 9 oz and was 21.5 inches long. She came out thinking she was starving and tried to eat anything she could get her hands on, including IV tubing and my hospital gown.
 Sharli's name is an variation on the Norwegian word kjaerlighet (pronounced shar-lee-het), which means pure Christ-like love. We took pity on her and shortened it a bit and Americanized the spelling. Her middle name Olive comes from several of my ancestors who all had the name Olive for about four generations in a row.
 Because it's flu season Erik wasn't able to come visit Sharli in the hospital, but he was waiting outside when we walked out Saturday afternoon to come home. He never even looked at me, he only had eyes for Sharli. And the helicopter.
 Erik holding Sharli for the first time:
 Our first family picture with all four of us:
 Erik loves to help me with Sharli. He's pretty sure there's no job involving her that he's not equipped to handle.
 Grandma eventually had to go home, but I'm not sure she really wanted to. She sure had a hard time saying good-bye.
 Just a few shots of Sharli for your enjoyment:


Her hair gets SO curly when it's wet, just like Erik's did.

Sharli was having some tummy time and Erik decided she needed some company. He stayed right by her the whole time she was down there. 
 Aunt Kett was sweet enough to take some gorgeous shots of Sharli for us. She got some great ones, don't you think?

 We sure love our girl and we're so grateful to have her! What a blessing she is in our lives already!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Explora!

We've discovered  a new favorite place to go in Albuquerque. I'd been there as a kid and remembered it as being really fun, but I didn't think that Erik was old enough to appreciate it so we hadn't really planned on going any time soon. Then, one day we were going to be in ABQ for the afternoon and called Mom Mower and Aunt Abby to see if they wanted to meet up with us somewhere in town. They chose Explora, and we decided to give it a try.
To my surprise, Erik loved Explora more than he's loved any other place in his life. I've never seen him so engaged in anything for such a long time. He was fascinated by all the interesting things around him and actually played and explored clear through his whole nap time without every acting tired in the slightest. We've been back several times now, with Nate and Kate and with my family and it has yet to fail to hold the same fascination for all of us. I won't even try to show you all the neat exhibits and activities, here's just a few shots to give you an idea of what this place is like.
Exploring the effect of slope on the trajectory of a moving object.
Animating a movie with Aunt Abby.
One of the most beloved areas, TRAINS!
Drawing circles with Daddy.
Another favorite; giant bubbles!
Exploring electricity.
With even more exhibits on light, sound, water, music, air flow, color, etc we've killed many hours here already and plan to do so again soon!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Well, I guess now that all the major winter holidays are passed, it's about time to tell you what we did with them. 
We had a really nice Thanksgiving. We spent the holiday in Stanley with Ethan's family, and had a really great time. Kett and Cam were there with their new little guy and we all ate like crazy and just enjoyed one another's company. I neglected to take any pictures though, sorry about that!
Christmas was wonderful. The weekend before, my cousin Ed was getting married in Albuquerque so I had nearly all of my family staying at our house for a few days, so it was almost like Christmas. Ethan only got one day off for Christmas which meant we didn't have time to travel anywhere, but luckily for us Mom and Dad Mower live an easy drive away and we got to go back out there and share Christmas with them. It was really nice and relaxed. Mom had made mountains of Christmas goodies and for Christmas dinner she made tamales and posole so I think we all gained about a million pounds while we were there; everything was SO yummy! Erik loved the tree and the lights and everything! He was careful never to show it to the camera, but he really had a good time. 
The afternoon/evening of Christmas Eve, Ethan Abby, and Dad went up to Santa Fe to see the lights and luminarias in the plaza and to do the "canyon walk". The canyon walk takes you up one of the older streets in town where everyone has tons of luminarias lit and there are lots of neat art galleries and other fun things to see. The whole town walks up the street and enjoys the sense of Christmas and community. We did this our first Christmas after we got married, but hadn't been back since, so we really wanted to go back. At the last minute I decided that I just wasn't feeling up to walking up the hill in the cold so I didn't end up going, but judging by Ethan's pictures it was sure beautiful. 



 Christmas morning we explored the contents of our stockings, opened presents, and had cinnamon rolls and other yummy things for breakfast. I think Erik really liked the presents, but he was careful not to give away his feelings by smiling or doing anything as obvious as that. Oh well...

Best smile we got all morning.

Abby bought Dad a can of whipped cream for Christmas, and Erik was just as thrilled as Dad was. He immediately ran to Grandpa and held out a finger to be filled with the good stuff. Now I know what to get him next year!
We had to go back home that night, but we had so much fun with our Mower family!
New Year's Eve was pretty quiet around here. We made some munchies and watched a movie. We hadn't really planned to, but we ended up being awake at midnight and learned that all the engines down in the rail year blow their whistles for the whole first minute of the New Year. It was kinda fun to hear!