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!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lions, and Tigers, and Trains, OH MY!

About the first week of November we decided to have some fun with one of our Saturday mornings. We climbed on the train and headed up to Albuquerque to spend the morning at the zoo. Erik was so excited to get to ride a city bus from the train station to the zoo, in fact that may have been his favorite part of the entire day. 
It was really fun to take Erik to the zoo. This is the zoo that I grew up going to, and I have to say I've never been to another zoo that I like quite as much as this one (not that I've been to a ton, but still...). We had to start by dropping a few pennies down the wishing well. It's still just as cool to watch the coins rolling round and round on their way down as it was when I was a kid. 
 Erik was most excited to see the elephants and the lions, so we headed for the "Africa" side of the park. Turns out that actually the elephants are on the very far edge of the Africa area, and the lions aren't even there at all. Erik was mildly interested in the monkeys and tigers and zebras and things of that nature that we were walking past, but he was mostly just a man on a mission. He wanted those elephants!
Leaving the monkey house, Erik realized that Dad had fallen behind a bit and ran back to get him. 
Watching some really pretty parrots and other exotic birds.
 If you've been reading our blog for a while, you may know that we can't pass a statue without having a bit of fun with it. Like this time, and this time, and this time (this last one is the best).
Finally, we got to the elephants. Erik was SO excited! The zoo had a brand new baby elephant (she turned one month old the day we were there), who was on display for the first time the weekend we were there. We were at the zoo early enough in the day that the place was pretty empty, but I think just about everyone who was there were all gathered around the female elephant enclosure. We got a glimpse of the baby, but it wasn't worth fighting the crowds, so we decided to go give the other elephants some attention since I'm sure they were feeling left out.
This guy was putting on a great show playing in the water. Erik was fascinated!
We did eventually make our way around to the big cat area, and saw the lions, but the darn things were just laying around sleeping and Erik was incredibly UNimpressed by them. I'm not even sure he believed us when we told him that what he was looking at was a lion.
We ended the trip by feeding the ducks and the koi in the pond for a while, and then headed back to the bus stop so we could catch our train home. 

This was such a fun trip. It all worked out perfectly, with the train getting us there right as the zoo opened, and giving us just enough time to have some fun before eating a picnic lunch on the train and getting home just in time for Erik's nap. It was fun to go back to a place with so many fun memories. Ethan and I were both surprised at how much smaller it all seemed to us now that we're "grown up". It's still the best zoo I've been to, and we're excited to take Erik back to see the rest of the animals that we missed this time around. We'll probably have to wait until Spring though, since so many of the animals hide away inside during the winter.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tomé Hill

It's been really fun to get more familiar with the Belen area now that we're here. Neither Ethan or I had ever spent any time here, despite having lived in NM most of our lives. Belen is right off the freeway, and I've driven past it more times than I could even try to count, but I'd actually never driven through the town until we moved here.
A few weeks ago we decided to take a Saturday morning and go see a local landmark, Tomé Hill. It's a volcanic hill that rises up from the valley floor, and is visible for quite a ways in all directions. It is right along the old Spanish El Camino Real (King's Highway) and would've been a good landmark for travelers going back and forth between Mexico and Santa Fe. There's a neat little park at the bottom of the hill with statues and signs telling the history of the area, and from there it is a 1/4 mile hike to the top of the hill. 1/4 mile doesn't sound too bad, but the hill is pretty steep and rocky, so it's harder than you might think, although still very doable.
Looking through La Puerta Del Sol towards the trail head. 
 Erik tripped and fell into a huge patch of goat heads while we were reading the signs and looking at the statues. His poor little legs were pretty torn up and one of the thorns stabbed through the bottom of his shoe and broke off in there, so he got to ride most of the way up the hill. He probably would've ended up riding anyways, the trail was pretty darn steep with lots of loose rock.

Took a break half way up for mom to rest and pick the thorn out of Erik's shoe. And for him to throw rocks. 
 Erik's a pretty tough little kid, he did end up walking some of the way, and when we got to the top he climbed all over the rocks up there.

 This is the only petroglyph we saw on our hike, but there are supposedly 1800 of them cataloged on the hill. It would've been really fun to see some more of them, but oh well.
 We finally made it to the top. The view out over the river valley was gorgeous, especially with the vibrant blue sky and puffy white clouds. You don't get to see sights like this in Mississippi!
 Tomé Hill is actually the site of an annual pilgrimage for local Catholics. Every year on Good Friday hundreds of people come from all over to make the climb to the shrine at the top of the hill. Supposedly the climb is a great way to make penance for your sins.
Two of the three crosses at the summit, there's an altar (I guess that's what you'd call it?) under the central cross. 
 After spending quite a while wandering around the top of the hill looking for more petroglyphs and just enjoying the gorgeous day, we headed back down the hill. This was a fun way to get outside and get to know the area around us.
I love this view of the valley. It's so typical of NM. Once you get too far away from the river, life seems to just dry up and the desert takes over. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Balloons

Anyone who's ever spent time in the Albuquerque area in October knows that this is balloon season. There is something about the air currents in the valley this time of year that makes for especially great hot air ballooning, so people come from all over the world to enjoy it. Our first taste of the fun was actually towards the end of September. I was on my way home from the General Relief Society meeting broadcast, and as I drove over an overpass I saw a hot air balloon lighting up in the night sky just a few blocks down the road. I flew home as fast as I could and grabbed my boys, and we went to go check it out. It turns out there were three or four of them there as part of a festival that was going on that day. I don't know if they'd been flying earlier in the day, but by this time they were just inflated to look pretty in the dark. We got to walk right up to them and talk to the pilots/crews. It was really fun, I'd never been that close to one before. 

 Our next bit of balloon fun was when Kett and Cam came up for a visit during the Balloon Fiesta.
The day Kett and Cam were there, we were too lazy to get up in time to be there for the morning ascension (we'd have to wake up about 4am), but we did make it to town in time to watch them fly for a few minutes before they started coming down all around town.
Erik got a hold of the camera, sorry about the smudges in the pic. This was the view as we came up the freeway into town.
When they run out of fuel, they have five minutes before they deflate, so as they run low they start coming down all over the place...
...including right in the middle of the road. The balloon crew and helpful bystanders had this guy out of the road in about one minute.


We had stopped just to sit and watch the balloons, but when we realized they'd be landing just down the road we had to get a closer look. Especially since this is the same balloon we got to see just down the street from our house a few weeks before. 
 The Balloon Fiesta is the largest ballooning event in the world, the most photographed event in the world, and the largest annual international event held in the USA. As kids we always begged mom and dad to take us to the fiesta, but it never happened, they weren't willing to fight the traffic and the crowds. We'd see balloons any time we were in ABQ (and sometimes they'd even come over to our side of the mountain and we'd see them closer to home), but we never actually went to the balloon park. Ethan and I decided we wanted to give it a try this year, so we looked at the event schedule and decided that if we were only going to go once, we wanted to make the most of it, so we chose to go to the Special Shapes Glowdeo. The special shape balloons are every kid's favorite, and the balloons are so beautiful all lit up at night. Plus, there was going to be a fireworks show afterword so there was really no contest. It had to be this night!
It took us 45 minutes of fighting traffic to get into the parking lot at the balloon park. Maybe mom and dad were right about the traffic being bad, but this was still going to be awesome, right?!
Headed from the parking lot to the main entrance.
Looking out at the swarms of people on the balloon field. Maybe mom and dad knew what they were talking about when they said it would be too crowded...

We got there about an hour before sunset, so we spent some time wandering looking at the different vendor's offerings. Our favorite area was where they'd been having chainsaw carving competitions. There were some really neat pieces of art there. 
Ethan and I were both as excited as little kids. We'd both dreamed of this for as long as we could remember!
 Unfortunately, baby decided she was hungry (and I mean HUNGRY) right as the sun was going down and the first balloons started inflating. So I left the boys sitting on a bale of straw watching the balloons inflate while I ran real quick to get a bite of dinner for us all. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in the park. This was the food line.
 I ended up spending nearly 45 minutes standing around waiting for food, about 30 minutes of that time was prime balloon viewing time. Because we only have one phone, Ethan and Erik were not allowed to leave the spot I'd left them at, so they weren't getting to see any more of the balloons than I was. It was killing me to see all the balloons just right over there, but I'd already paid for my food and I wasn't about to just walk away and leave it (although, if I'd known how long they'd take getting it, I'd have just walked away and been hungry).
 Finally, our food was ready, so I rushed to find the boys and see balloons. It was SO neat to be walking around looking at the balloons up close. Some of them were ones I remember seeing as a kid, many of them were new. They were so much bigger than I'd ever realized, and looked so neat glowing in the dark!
Sorry, the balloon pictures aren't that great, but night pictures are hard enough, then throw in a bunch of glowing moving objects and it's nearly impossible! This is a guy with a jet pack and a spider man piggy bank.
Erik's favorite, the "moo"
It turns out that the balloons only stay inflated for about an hour, so the fun was over WAY before we were ready for it to end, especially since I'd spent half that time waiting around for mediocre food.
The fireworks show was SPECTACULAR! Erik wasn't so sure about it, but Ethan and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may have been the best firework show I've ever seen. It was really nice to snuggle up on the grass of the balloon field as a family and watch the show.
It took us 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot, and then we still had to fight our way onto the freeway and get ourselves home.
So mom and dad may have been right. It was VERY crowded there, and we spent 1.5 hours in traffic for 1 hour of balloon viewing (with half of that fighting the crowds for food instead of enjoying the balloons). BUT, it was also really neat to see it all up close and to be right in the middle of the action. While it probably wasn't worth the price and the hassle, we still really enjoyed our evening there and made some fun memories.