Its always tennis season…

Hunter was at tennis practice when his coached asked when his soccer season was going to end, so he could start participating in tennis tournaments on Saturday mornings. I informed the coach that soccer was a year round sport and we would just need to fit the tournaments in when we could.

He replied that he’s familiar with year-round sports because tennis is the same way, there’s never an off-season. I reminded him we’re very familiar with year-round tennis because Hallie never has an off-season. She moves from school tennis. To sweat-it-out-in-the-heat-of-summer tennis. To take-a-vacation-in-Idaho-and-enjoy-the weather-there tennis. To beautiful-Utah-summer tennis camp. To fall-clinic-and-prep-for-the-school-season tennis. She just cycles through all the seasons.

She’s had a couple tournaments recently in preparation for school try-outs and I love to watch her play. It’s equally fun to watch her dad cheer her on and support her. Its going to be a fun season, I can feel it!

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Christmas break…

We have had my brother come visit us after Christmas for the last several years. We love having them and we have a routine of all the things we know we can fit it into the week between Christmas and New Years. For one reason or another, they weren’t able to join us this year. So we decided to make a last minute, quick trip to California – during what was quite possibly the coldest and rainiest week of the year! Several times the week before, we were tempted to cancel all together because the forecast was so gloomy. But in the end we went and we made the best out of a very rainy situation.

The best decision we made was inviting some friends to join – they have an RV and were happy to join in our rainy fun. We were very strategic about our activities. We tracked the weather so closely and as soon as there was a rain-free window – we were outside, bundled up! We spent a morning riding bikes along the pier. We could have done this for hours, but our window was short and we didn’t want to end up drenched. We started out with Briggs on his little bike and before we even left the parking lot, we switched him to a tandem which was such a smart move on our part – his little legs would’ve had a hard time keeping up.

One evening *before dinner* we went to Balboa Island to grab a frozen banana/treat. As you can imagine, nobody was overly hungry for dinner. And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get how people rave over the frozen banana! They’re hard to eat and they hurt my teeth – but the kids didn’t seem to mind. Dip anything in sprinkles and they’re a fan.

We had access to a small enclosed dinghy boat which kept us entertained and warm for hours. Even when it was rainy outside, we could take it out and put around the bay. One evening we took the boat out and enjoyed all the Christmas lights on the houses bordering the bay – it was fun to spot the houses that had received awards for their display. A few of the displays were pretty fancy. We learned that they have a boat parade before Christmas where everyone decorates their boats and several were still decorated and cruising around the bay.

The kids wanted to play in the ocean and no matter how many times we told them just how cold the water was, they were convinced they were going to go skim board and play in the waves. It was a brief excursion to the beach (when Briggs managed to get fully wet) but we did manage to roast some hot dogs and make smores and we would’ve stayed longer but we ran out of wood and we were too cold without a fire.

The kids rode the small but fast ferris wheel at Balboa fun zone. We must have caught the only two hours it was open for the day due to rain – because we didn’t see it running much the whole time we were there.

And when the rain totally shut us down – there were always puzzles. And Jack’s Surf Shop. And games. And movies. And tacos.

We packed in a surprising amount of fun for just how miserable the weather was. Literally two days after we left it was beautiful and sunny once again. I guess we’ll have to head back another time and hopefully not pack everyone’s comfy!

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Happy wall 2021…

I don’t cry when I take the tree down, but I hate losing our happy wall of friends’ and family cards.

I’ve seen a couple of fun ideas floating around the internet of what to do with these cards once they come off the wall. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll end up doing with them, but for right now they’re still on the fridge. They are always my last Christmas decoration to come down.

I like when friends come over and they ask about some of the cards. I get to do a little rundown of what makes that family so special, how we know them and why they’re on our fridge. And sometimes there’s a connection we didn’t even know existed.

I’m forever grateful for the many families that have crossed our paths and made it such a delightful road to travel.

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ASU Wrap up…

We have carried ASU season Football tickets for years. And every year when it’s time to renew, we do this little song and dance.

Do we still want them? How many do we want – will the whole family use them? We know we’re going to miss this game and possibly that game…etc. And every year, we have decided we want them. Our family enjoys this activity together and they all vote that this is an activity where they want to spend their weekends. Luckily we’ve got family and friends who have also decided this is where they want to spend their weekends so we’ve got some great company.

We sweated through the majority of the games and by the end of November, the weather was tolerable! 🙂 Somehow in all the games we attended – this was the only family photo we got and it was the very last game.

Hunter’s favorite thing to do was take friends and meet up with friends that have tickets as well.

Bennett had friends at most of the games as well because his friends have tickets with us.

Hallie loved when she was surrounded by cousins – those were the best games for her.

I liked the games most when I had a cotton candy sucker!

Steve’s brother has tickets with us so we sit with him all season long. But when family comes to town, we try and make it a family affair. Father, Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews – they’re all fans of football.

We’re always so hopeful that the season is going to be successful – and by the end of the season we’re just hoping for a win. This year was no different. We had some great wins and some disappointing losses and an even more disappointing bowl game. But in the end – we had fun as a family. And when we’re not watching the games at the stadium, we’re watching them at home – and all the other teams we follow. It makes for an eventful fall.

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Years ago, when Steve and I graduated college, we moved our little family (just Hallie) out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a job. As luck would have it Steve’s brother and his family lived out there as well. As we were transitioning to Wisconsin and trying to find a home, we lived in Steve’s brother’s basement for several months. This was overly generous on their part and it was the beginning of some of my favorite relationships. Our nephew was a senior in high school when we moved in and was getting ready to head off to college, and although our crossing was brief it was powerful. When we moved into our house, I remember him coming over to the house to help me paint Hallie’s room. We sat in that room talking for hours about how he saw the world and what he wanted to do when he went off to college. Before moving out there, I really didn’t know him so this time period was very formative.

Flash forward 15 years – and he’s got a family of 3 and another on the way. And when they told us they were coming to Arizona for a very short visit, we were able to convince them to stay with us and let ours kids build some relationships. This nephew is actually the oldest grandchild in the family. So it’s weird for my kids to think of him as their cousin, because he feels a little more like an uncle. And truth be known, he’s far closer in age to us than most nephews so he feels more like a brother – we were so excited for their visit.

Our time was short – 48 hours, so we had to be very strategic about what we could fit in. We were a little surprised they chose going to the lake for the afternoon because it would take hours, but I’m so glad we fit it in. We had a beautiful afternoon. The weather had started to turn cold, but we had a warm day – which still means the water was cold, which means I was not about to get in. But the kids all got in. Half the kids surfed, the other half went on the ZUP board.

Their little guy was confident he wanted to give it a try. And by the time it was his turn, his courage had dried up. We did our best convincing but he was not having it. I asked Hunter to get back out in the water to go with him. (Which also took some convincing because once you know how cold the water is, it’s hard to go back in!) And with Hunter as his partner, he was willing. It started a little rocky – Hunter was trying to figure out how to double ride the board, and their boy was still unsure as was evident by his bulging eyes. Eventually, they found their rhythm and he was all smiles. It was cute to see him conquer his fear and proudly wave at his parents in the boat. Their daughter on the other hand could not be persuaded to try!

We had boat dance parties and cheered on those that braved the water. The kids jumped in and out of the water so many times. And our nephew tried his hand at surfing and did amazing. An afternoon at the lake was the perfect activity with their family.

That evening, we made it to an ASU football game. Our nephew went to Stanford and he proudly walked into the stadium wearing his cardinal red – and we were proud devils. Only one of us could walk away that evening happy with the game – we were very happy!

Several family members joined us at the game: Steve’s dad, brother, sister and brother-in-law as well as 5 of our nephews, it was a family affair!

The next day, we had a family gathering with the extended family (although the ASU game could count for a partial extended family gathering!). Most of Steve’s siblings were able to gather to say hello and meet our nephew’s youngest child for the first time. It was such a great night for them to see the family. The live away from any family, so to come and see so many faces in such a short time was a treat. Their kids only have 1 cousin – so coming to Arizona, they gain more cousins than they can even name.

Their visit was too short. But we’ll take it. We capitalized every minute, talking into the wee hours of the morning. The kids played and had a great time.

Everyone connected.

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