Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Family Portrait, through Ashley's Eyes

Ashley decided to draw a picture of our family. While she was drawing it she said it was hard to make Daddy's little hairs (of course I had to snicker). Then she started drawing herself and said it was a "mess up" so she started over to make her long hairs prettier.

Ashley is on the far left with one long hair going toward the "mess up", I'm in the middle (she had no explanation for the giant ball hanging off the side of my head), Jason is the yellow one on the right.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Great Grandma Brick's Cookies

I figure if I'm going to be a Brick I need to know how to make Grandma Brick's sugar cookies. It seems like everyone swings past the cookie jar several times on holidays at Grandma and Grandpa Brick's house. Since Jason loves them so much I thought it would be a good thing to learn how to make them and to teach Ashley to make them so she can carry on the tradition. Ashley loved beating the eggs and mixing them into the dough. Ash was also a big fan of pressing the cookie cutter into the dough but I think her favorite part was tasting the finished product. Jason said they tasted just like Grandma's but were a little thicker than hers. I guess I'll have to make a few more batches before they're just right.

Snow Fest in Aliso

We brought Ashley to the snow fest hosted by the city. Ashley was fighting a cold and cutting a molar so she was a little clingy but kept a smile on the whole time. Jas took Ash down on the sled and as I waited for them to have a turn I watch a mom come down without holding her two year old and the kid flew about five feet in the air face first, then I watched another mom tip the sled over and roll all over her kids, so I was a little nervous because I know Jason always wants to go fast. Luckily I underestimated my husband's skills and his love for breaking the rules haha. We think everyone was falling because they listened to the rules- hold on to the rails of the sled, do not drag your hands. Well, your hands were the only brakes you had so Jason broke the rules and luckily they both came down the hill with big smiles and without a scratch.

After the sled ride we took Ashley to the snow lot but since it was about 75-80 degrees it was more of a muddy slush lot. After a few snowballs and an attempt at making the world's smallest snowman we were all done and headed home.

Thanksgiving with the kids

The kids and I had a Thanksgiving feast for lunch. I'd have to say that Greyson and Dylan will probably enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners the most because they plowed through all of their food. I'm not sure if Maddy, Ash and Cody were just distracted with the turkey napkins, the fact that we were eating at the coffee table or because there were extra kids but they didn't seem quite as enthusiastic about the meal. I had to make sure all the kids could sport some cool Thanksgiving attire so we made vests and headbands, I was amazed because they all were happy to wear their headbands, the vests...not so much.

After lunch we played pin the feather on the Turkey and followed that up with the carving of our "popcorn turkey" which they all thought was pretty cool. It was so fun to spend part of the day with all five kids.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stone Brewery for Jason's Birthday

Jason had gone to the Stone Brewery in San Marcos to take some pictures of the stone work and fell in love with the place. So I surprised him and took him there for his birthday. The grounds were amazing, it literally was the equivelant of a vineyard but all for beer. My sister Erin, her boyfriend Kevin and my brother met us there. We had dinner and then went on a tour of the brewery which was, um, interesting.

This was the brewery tour guide.

Jason had a good time, which is evident by the picture of him sliding across the brewery floor, so I guess it was a success.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back to Reality

We all regretfully piled into Jason's truck today and said one last goodbye to the goats and ducks before we left. The drive home was pretty nice, then we hit Vegas and were swallowed up in a cloud of smog and traffic, quite the opposite of the life we had been enjoying in Springdale.

The drive home was fine but it seemed a lot longer then the drive there but I guess that's how it always is when you come home from vacations.

Jason and I had been wondering if Ashley would remember the trip and if she had a really good time and those questions were answered when we pulled in our complex and she said, "we're home, I don't wanna be home, I wanna be in Zion!" She was so sad that she even shed a few tears. It was sad to see her upset but it was also nice to know that she had such a great time.

Now we're back to our crazy life and the hustle and bustle before the holidays which will only make us miss the slower pace and peacefulness of our trip to Zion that much more.

A more mello adventure

Well, after yesterday's adventures I think we were all looking for something on the safer side. So we decided to rent bicycles and ride a trail in the park and then ride along the scenic road through the park.

It may sound silly but I was really scared of this adventure too. After elementary school the last time I rode a bike was when I tried to ride trails with my brother one day while I was in college. It ended after about 10 minutes and me almost tipping over and down a 15 foot drop. I was definitely a little nervous about my biking skills and wasn't sure what this trail was going to be like but the boys were really excited about it so I couldn't say no. After the guy adjusted the seat for me he had me ride down a little street and turn around to make sure everything felt right. Well, the street was a normal sized street but I was so afraid I'd turn and fall over the I just kept riding until I found a house with a round driveway. After we got the trailer for Ashley hooked onto Jason's bike we piled blankets on her and headed off. I was VERY shaky to start off and when I say shaky I mean people probably drove past me thinking I was a drunk bike driver because I was everywhere.

Once we were off the road, away from the cars and on the trail I was so much more comfortable and ended up having a ball. We got to ride our bikes next to the river, over beautiful bridges and saw the most incredible views of the mountains. Ashley was having a blast in her trailer and I couldn't stop smiling. Once we finished our trail we hopped on the main road through the park and road about a mile or two and then we decided to turn around because the cars driving past us were making us crazy. Once we were back on our trail we stopped at a dam maid in 1930 to help with the water flow into Springdale (the gateway town to Zion National park). We all climbed out on the rocks to have our pictures taken and then we headed back to the bike rental store and by the time we were done I was begging Jason to get me a bike for Christmas because I loved it so much.

Our day ended a little early but we spent the afternoon playing "Tiger Golf" as Ash calls it until dinner time. We had a magical last dinner at Oscar's where we sat on a patio with heaters and white Christmas tree lights surrounding us. We spent most of the dinner laughing as we looked back on our crazy adventures, it was the perfect ending to a trip that we will always remember.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rainy and FREEZING in Utah

We woke up this morning to dark clouds behind our mountain ridge instead of the usual sunny glow. We were all hoping for rain so we just kind of assumed we wouldn't get any since that how it usually works. After breakfast we packed the lunches and bags and were headed out for the harder hikes today.

Let me remind you that I'm afraid of heights, so much so that when we're coming home from Laughlin and going through the Cajon Pass I make Jason drive on the right side of the freeway because that drop off makes me crazy. Well, the Cajon Pass is nothing in Utah and today I somehow gathered up the strength to just push through and get over the fear so I am VERY proud of myself.

We started the day off at the Zion Lodge and hiked to the Grotto. After we reached the Grotto we crossed over the main road and were headed to the Emerald Pools via the Kayenta Trail. When I research and plan for the hikes on these trips I always make sure the path is really wide and there is no danger of falling off a cliff because I know I just couldn't do it. Well, someone forgot to mark this trail as being REALLY REALLY SCARY! Holy moly! I think I might have gasped and told Jason to walk closer to the inside of the path every 50 feet. The hike was only about 3 miles but it was probably at about a 30 degree angle 90% of the time so we all got a good glut workout. As the hike kept going and going it seemed like the trail got more and more narrow and I kept thinking if it's not better in a couple minutes I have to turn around. Eventually we got to the Upper Emerald pool which was incredible. Standing at the shore of the water dug into the side of the cliff with trees of every color surrounding us was unreal. There was a lookout point a few minutes away from the Upper Pool and we were all amazed at how high we were. Tthe trees and cars that we felt so tiny next to were now little specs and all kind of blurred into one.

We headed to the Middle Emerald pool next and started to feel some tiny rain drops every once in a while. Those tiny rain drops got a little bigger and more frequent as we descended the mountain side. Once we were back at the river we decided to head back to the meadow near the grotto and had a VERY chilly lunch on a picnic bench while Ashley slept on top of the table.

We were all tired but felt like we could eek out one last tiny hike before we called it quits. We remembered seeing a really cool trail off Carmel Mountain HWY the day before so we decided to try it. I had remembered doing this hike as a kid with my parents so I knew it couldn't be too bad, WRONG!!!! I obviously wasn't scared of heights back then. The first 10 minutes of this hike was going up dirt stairs that climbed right up the side of the mountain, once we were done with the stairs I quickly realized I was in for a challenge. This hike opened up to a VERY deep canyon (when I say VERY deep I mean 1,000-1,500 ft deep). We had a path about 4 feet wide to hike on with a railing sporadically appearing along the trail to keep you from falling to your death. About half way through there was a spot where the path had completely eroded away so they built a little bridge across made of metal and wooden planks (you should have seen how quickly I flew across that!) Once we got over that we were inside a cave in the mountain and then continued the hike up to the canyon overlook point. We arrived to the top with some sprinkles on the way and while we spent no more than 2 minutes admiring the view we watched a giant rain cloud move through the canyon, heading straight for us. We quickly snapped our touristy photos next to the sign and vaminos, off we went! Jason was so fast I couldn't even see him after about 3 minutes. I thought hiking that trail was scary before, well now I had to experience it in the rain with slippery rocks and mud, JOYOUS! I was so cold and scared that my knees were shaking but we all managed to get down in one piece and I think we would all agree that we would probably never do that hike again.

On our way home from the park we were talking about how scary the hikes that strongly warn you of the possibility of falling to your death must be. When we got home Jason got on his laptop and googled the two trails we had done and what do you know, they have the highest death rates out of any trail in the park! No wonder I was scared! Looking back if we would have known what they were before hand I don't think we would have done them, or at least I would have skipped them. At least we left the trip with some exciting stories to tell.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Waking up in Utah

Last night we got settled in our hotel room around 2:45 in the morning but that's really 3:45am here in Utah. We always like to get an early start when we're here because we want as much time as we can have to enjoy the beauty. When I woke up the first thing I did was run out to the balcony to get a good whiff of the cold fresh air. I stood outside with my cup of coffee watching the sun rise up over the mountain ridge making the grass glisten and the goats and ducks come to life.

We started our morning off with breakfast at the Pioneer and we all gorged on the best breakfasts ever. While we stuffed our faces our daughter drew her first picture of a person. Oh how I've been waiting to see her draw a giant head with stick legs and arms coming out of it. I almost burst into tears because it was just one of those things I've been so excited to see her do. Of course I asked her to draw lots more so she drew sad faces, happy faces and a picture of her and daddy with his "little hairs". As we waddled back to our rooms (feeling 5 pounds heavier) to pack the backpacks for the day we all laughed wondering how we were going to hike after our feast. Luckily we all managed to digest it quickly.

We entered Zion National Park and drove along the scenic drive and Mount Carmel Highway so Erin and Kevin could get a chance to see the entire park. I think they both stared out the windows with their mouths open saying WOW the entire drive. Jason and I still marvel at the beauty in the park and I think we always will.

After our drive we went for a quick hike to the Weeping Rock. Listening to the trickling streams while taking in the scenery is unbelievable. There are things in Zion that we just don't see here in Southern California. Ashley had fun finding fishies in the creek and watching the rock "cry".

Our next hike was the Riverside walk which is breathtaking because you're walking along the river and surrounded by beautiful trees and mountains that go straight up for what seems like miles. It was fun to watch Ashley stare up at the cliffs in awe while she rode around on Jason's back. When we reached the end of the trail we ate our lunches along the edge of the river. While we sat there I was so happy because there were no cell phones, no emails, no tv shows it was just the five of us and our PBJ's and it was heavenly. (I've never thought of myself as a crazy nature loving person but I'm finding out that I kind of am which is fine with me as long as I don't start braiding pants from hemp)

After lunch we had hiked back to the car and it started to get really cold so we decided to call it a day and head home.

Once we were in our room I had a Birthday surprise for Jason so I sent him and Kevin to the maid's closet to sneak another pillow. When he came back in the room there was a lap top with a big red bow waiting for him. I was so happy to see his face light up and he had the BIGGEST smile ever. Now he can't wait for next Sunday so he can watch football on the couch and monitor his stats and the games from his laptop without having to get up and check it in the kitchen (a whole 9 feet away).