up up and away / the airplane ride.
the flight was uneventful and super fun (mostly because it was short!). i especially loved seeing the grand canyon from above. we snacked on gummi bears to keep our ears from popping and read books and played with stickers. upon arrival, our jackets were peeled off, never to be seen again. hooray. the weather is gorgeous in arizona. and so is my sister, gabi and her family and her new house. we were welcomed with open arms, an open fridge, lots of togetherness and spring break arizonian fun. i want to set up an RV in their driveway. there is just no one quite like a sister.
gabi and her foursome / pizza night.
i got a glimpse of what life is like with big kids!! the cousins were so sweet with benji; fighting over sitting by him, helping him, playing with him and pushing him on the swings. he was like a mini monarch. speaking of which, my brother-in-law brad took gabi and i to the movies. ever since he married gabi (i was eight!), he has been so good to me. he introduced me to the works: popcorn and jr. mints and tall drinks and previews.
later in the week gabi and i enjoyed makeovers, watching Top Chef (where have i been?!), great podcasts, shrimp burritos, watermelon slushes from Sonic and a lesson in painting walls. she picked a beautiful martha stewart shade at Home Depot. it's called nutshell. we painted and chatted after the kiddos were tucked in. the opportunity to watch another mom mother her children is priceless. especially if she's as good as gold like gabi is. being my oldest sis, she has always been one to teach by example. one thing i hope to copy is the way she reads chapter books (each kid, a different book!) with her kids at night.
i always come home with a new perspective on things. i told her i didn't even feel like blogging while i was experiencing her busy lifestyle. i assured her i wouldn't be reporting any of this on my blog! then i got home, got sucked in and couldn't help myself. if you know my blog at all, you know i am a big fan of posting vacation wrap-ups. without trying, they are always lengthy with gaudy details and photographic evidence oozing with all the fun we're having. (if you are someone other than my mom or my sister, thanks for tuning in!)
the kiddos / fun in the sun.
every day we had an outing with the kids. even dropping them off at piano lessons was enjoyable. it's so refreshing getting out of one routine and jumping into another. the trip zipped by so quick. i lost track of the days and suddenly started to wonder how people with real lives ever find time to blog or read blogs. one day we went to the phoenix zoo which reminded me so much of the san diego zoo from last year. it has great features, including a little people farmland and a few splash pads. i guess spontaneous splashing is a necessity for locals come august.
gabi's backyard isn't quite finished yet, but the kids had a ball driving plasma cars on the patio and burying each other in sand with the worker's shovels. it was pure luxury to wear sunglasses and sandals again. benji kept saying, mom, it's real sunny out here. when he'd start digging in the sand he'd prop his sunglasses up on his head like a big person.
yum / fresh from the farm.
joe's farm grill was a perfect spot for brunch. outdoor seating, delicious food (mini apple fritters!), and farm fields all around. it was a hip little spot to eat. i imagine i'd become a regular if i lived nearby. jake opted for a giant hamburger and orange soda, in true growing-boy fashion. it's crazy to see these kids grow up before my own eyes. jake and i watched Avatar together one night. i (shockingly) really liked it and wished i'd seen it in 3D. it is crazy creative, don't you think!? am planning to make dan watch it soon so we can discuss.
adventures / boys will be boys.
sam and luke play club penguin on gabi's computer. (if only she could dictate her hilarious blog posts to them!) i loved their banter about video gaming, it totally took me back to playing sonic the hedgehog with my brother in the beginning phases of sega. these boys (willingly!) shared all their cool toys with benj. one afternoon we headed to schnepf farms for a hayride and a trainride and vegetable picking. later on, gab and i baked a beet bundt cake with the dozens of beets the kids picked. the cake was moist and delicsh but still tasted a little like earth which is a nice way to say it kind of tasted like dirt in bundt form. gabi kindly wrapped up the leftovers and sent them to her in-laws. if you find yourself deep in beets, you might want to give this recipe a try!
another highlight was taking the twins to tennis. they played hard so i told them we'd head out for a treat to celebrate. they had a brilliant idea to go to the new frozen yogurt shop, cocoamoe's or kokamo's or cocomo's. we never did find it, but they loved taking turns spelling it out into the GPS. it's a wild ride when you have two six year old back seat drivers. benj was happy to watch all the events unfold. so many characters, so many plots to follow.
loving spring break / benji and me at joe's farm.
a big thanks to the arizona cousins.
jake is tall and athletic, energetic and helpful. he recently turned twelve and gabi threw him a party complete with marshmallow guns. he and b were fast friends. he held benji's hand, pushed him on the swings and protected him from all signs of toddler danger. his favorite flavor of soda is orange. jake's adoption was an answer to so many prayers.
emily made a cardboard house just for benj to play in. she read a dozen books to benji and tucked him in at night. if only she could've fit in my suitcase! she likes sports, dancing to the radio and braiding her new lifesize bratz barbie doll head (i'm jealous, i never had one of those). i love the story about the time gabi and brad first laid eyes on her.
sam and luke are twins and completely crack me up. they are so clever and witty! we made cookies together because i have such fond memories of baking cookies with them in 2007. (they were only three and knew all the ingredients by heart!) they are becoming big kids but still on the verge of being little. i took every chance i got to snuggle up with them. benj was impressed with their piano playing and marble tracks. i'm impressed with gabi's juggling act! read her adventures with kindergarten and dealing with double the meltdowns!
thank you, gabi for all the fantastic fun. and yes, this is my small ploy to get you into blogging again!