Friday, February 28, 2014

Ride On {favorite friday}

[Arizona 2009]
Monkey Boy loved this motorcycle as much as his dad did.  It's hard to believe this photo was taken over four years ago... my, how time flies!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cake For The Blue & Gold Banquet

Monkey Boy decided on a much simpler cake design for the Blue & Gold Banquet this year.  Although it proved quite daunting trying to get all those lines drawn on there.  The silly cans of 'squirt-frosting' were not as easy to operate as they looked.  I still think he did a great job.  (See last year's radical army tank cake HERE).

- xoxo Jess

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Webelos Hike & Military Man's Birthday

Monkey Boy is working on finishing up his requirements for Webelos in Cub Scouts and his Faith In God before his birthday next month.  He only has a couple of requirements left to do for his badge in the Outdoorsman and Readyman.  His den spent last Saturday hiking near Madera Canyon - the same trail our family did on New Year's Day (I wrote about that hike here). 

It was also Military Man's birthday that day.  He joined Monkey Boy for the scout hike, then enjoyed the rest of the weekend with Grandma Brunette and Grandpa Dan who were also in town visiting for the weekend.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I {heart} Lazy Afternoons With My Babies

I sure do love our quiet afternoons together.
Happy Monday XO

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Young Women's New Beginnings

Last week the girls participated in their Young Women's group annual activity, "New Beginnings" to celebrate the program and to help welcome in the girls that will be joining them this year as they turn 12.  Their YW leaders are all so wonderful and such great examples for our girls - they are well-loved and appreciated.  Well done ladies!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Many Welcomes Home {favorite friday}

[England 2009]
Five years ago this week Military Man was on his way home from a deployment in Iraq.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dashboard Bling

This hula dancing beauty has to be one of the coolest gifts I brought back with me from my visit to Hawaii last year.  She's danced her way through many off-road adventures this winter.  Here we are, off on another Brunette adventure... it's that time of year again - Tucson Rodeo Days.  The kids are out of school for a four-day weekend and Grandma Brunette is here for a visit... should be a great weekend!

Happy Trails!
  - Jess

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Perfect Climate

It's been absolutely perfect climate lately.  Not too hot, not too cold.  We've been leaving the door open to let the fresh air circulate through the house.  Daisy spends most of her day laying outside in the sun while Copper lays in the house - in the doorway just like this.  I know before long it will be too hot to do this, and the open door will give the flies access to the cool of our house... so we'll just enjoy it while we can.
Happy Hump Day!
XO - Jess

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Good Sign

These sweet smelling blossoms are a very good sign that my poor little lime tree has actually survived another season under my care.
Happy Tuesday!
- Jess

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gettin Crafty With Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is about the one time a year I get a little crafty.  This year for Monkey Boy's class valentines I let him have a go at Pinterest ideas and he really liked this one from designwashrinserepeat.com

Easy enough!  

And of course, we can't be out done by Grandma Brunette.  She sent each of the kids a giant card with crisp dollar bills folded into origami hearts. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Combat Paintball

There are seven strategically positioned players, (five in view) in the image above.   Can you spot them?   It's unbelievable how well they blend in with the elements, but I suppose that is the point.  Military Man and the kids have enjoyed several weekends of paintball in desert over the last couple of months, and last weekend I finally decided to join them - but just as a spectator.  I attempted photographing the action, but honestly, they hid too well and the images just weren't that interesting.  It was however awesome to watch from a distance, and witness their strategies unfold.  Sometimes opponents had no idea how close they really were to each other because they were so good at sneaking in on the defenders.  I suppose they'll have a few more weeks of this before it becomes too hot out and the rattlesnakes start reclaiming the territory.  Hope you all have a great weekend! - XO - Jess

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Spring Is Sneaking In

I cannot wait until the trees are full of foliage again... I don't care so much for winter.  I know I shouldn't complain, after all we did hit eighty-two degrees yesterday.
- Jess

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hiking in Turkey {favorite friday}

[Marmaris, Turkey 2008]

Celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary in the Mediterranean.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Elephant Head At Sunset

We live in a truly awesome place, and I am grateful for this.

- Jess

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2nd Annual SUSD Symphony Orchestra

Buggy was invited to perform at the district symphony orchestra concert again this year.  The program was much shorter than last year.  By only learning four pieces this winter, the students were better able to focus and play more complicated parts.  Their performance was absolutely outstanding. 
     Warrior Legacy by Soon Hee Newbold
     It's All About Love! by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, Arrangement by Jack Bullock
     Aboriginal Rituals by Elliot Del Borgo
     Circus Galop (from The Irish Dragoon) by John Phillip Sousa

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Culprit

After a couple of weeks of my coming home to curtains half-hanging from the rods, blinds disheveled, and furniture in disarray every time I left the house... I have finally found the culprit of this mess.

The instigator, THIS CAT has been taunting - teasing - provoking the dogs from the safety of 'outside'.  Little does this naughty little kitty know, Copper is capable of opening the front door handle all on his own if it is not locked.  Hmmm... clever kitty better just watch out because I may just accidentally forget to lock it next time I run out on an errand and save myself the headache of rearranging the room every time he is spotted.

And there he sits diligent.  Observing.  Waiting for an opportunity to give chase.  (Seriously, he's spent the last two days like in this spot watching that dumb cat lay around in the yard).

XOXO - Jess

Monday, February 10, 2014

Elusive Cardinals

The area I was in when I heard the commotion of these beautiful birds was not ideal for spotting a thing, dumb! dense! brush!  You'd think with the branches being bare this time of year that it would be much easier to spot the bright red cardinals as they were swooshing around above my head.  Before I realized what was making such noise all around me, I'll admit I was a little afraid because I was alone and in an unfamiliar area.  Then of course a huge, silly sigh of relief came after I saw that they were just birds, probably upset that I was advancing through their neck of the woods.  Remembering I had my camera, I then tried like crazy to capture a shot worthy of bragging about.  I was not so fortunate... they smartly stayed just far enough away to make me frustrated enough to give up.

Until next time, you coy little birdies...
XO - Jess

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Adventures In Geology

Military Man took last week off from work to have some uninterrupted study time before he tests for his next rank this week.  He also started classes back up since he should be 'home' and have internet access for this semester.  With all that studying going on he decided he needed an outdoors getaway, a break from the books.  I accompanied him on an adventure along the Santa Rita foothills to look at rocks and land formations.  There wasn't much to photograph but leafless trees and old dry weeds - and rocks, lots of rocks.  However, I will not complain as it has been unusually warm this winter, while much of the country is experiencing extreme winter weather.  Winters in Arizona are THE BEST!

Have a great week
- Jess

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gilbert Temple Open House

Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend the Gilbert Temple Open House.  Crowds of curious people and long lines were expected... but it was worth every minute of our seven hour trip - especially on such a beautiful winter morning.  We thought it would be great to take the kids inside so they could see all of the rooms, not just the baptismal font where they can go when they're 12.  The girls were just babies (23 and 7 months old) when they entered the temple for the first time in Manti Utah, so naturally they don't remember the experience.  And all three of them have been outside on the temple grounds of several temples while Sam and I went inside for ordinance work.  Since Freckle Face turned 12, she's had the pleasure of doing baptisms in both the Gila Valley and Mesa Temples here in Arizona and she was excited to be able to count this newly completed one with the others.  She was eager to show her brother and sister what she knew about the temple.  We met some friends from our ward there, the Gardner family, and were able to go through the tour with some familiar faces.  Buggy found her place being a 'big helper' to the Gardner's three little kids.  I knew it was going to be a bit much for the introvert in me with the big crowds and so much to see and reflect on, so I didn't really plan to take any pictures but I did bring my camera just in case.  The Gardeners were nice enough to snap a couple pictures of our family after the tour.

To see more images of the temple and to learn more about the purpose of temples, visit the links below:
Gilbert Arizona Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
First Look Inside
The Purpose Of Temples

Have a great weekend everybody!
XOXO - Jess

Friday, February 7, 2014

Goin' For A Ride {favorite friday}

[New Mexico, 2004]
Today's {favorite friday} image is a snap shot of the kids at ages 4,3+1, navigating Freckle Face's Barbie Jeep through the rough terrain along the edge of Cannon AFB golf course which was just outside our back yard gate.  This was one of their favorite daily activities.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Invitation To Compete

Last week Buggy interviewed for a spot at the National American Miss pageant and they called her back with an invitation to compete this summer at the 2014 Miss Arizona Pre-Teen Pageant.  Can you say EX.CI.TED!!!  This means that over the next couple of months we will be brushing up on etiquette and presentation and everything in between.

So stay tuned, there's more to come.
- Jess

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hot Rod - Pack 313 Pinewood Derby

I made the decision awhile back that when it comes to certain activities the kids are involved in, it's best for me to leave the camera at home and not worry about taking pictures.  When I did take my camera I felt like I was missing the fun because I was too busy trying to capture everything.  Besides, I couldn't really get the kind of pictures I wanted without being a nuisance or a distraction to everyone around me.  Anyways... this was one of those activities where we just take a picture afterwards and enjoy our time while there. 

Monkey Boy's certificate was the "Hot Rod Award" and although he didn't have a very fast car again this year, he didn't seem to mind much - I think he really only participates because that's what his troop is doing that week for their scout activity.  He won 3rd place for Webelos and gets to go on to the Regional Pinewood Derby next weekend.  (I should mention the placement was by default as there are actually only three boys in his group).  He doesn't expect to win any races at regional, but he's excited to go see all the really cool car designs and find out who does win.  (Did I also mention we live in an area full of engineer nerds? Not that it matters but I think that's part of the reason his pinewood derby cars just aren't competitively fast... that, and he just doesn't have much interest in it).

- Jess

Saturday, February 1, 2014

First Flight - Wright Flight Tucson

After four months of  "training" Monkey Boy finished up his Wright-Flight program and was able to take his first flight today.   I was a bit worried because Arizona has had unusually pleasant weather this winter and we hadn't seen clouds or rain in months.  Sure enough, Grandma Hall comes to visit from up north and she brought along more winter-like conditions.  The kids were fortunate enough to have the skies calmed down by the time they were ready to fly.  I am still trying to figure out what kind of plane he co-piloted, so I'll fill in the details later but if you want to learn more about the wonderful organization that puts this program all together visit the Wright Flight link here.