Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baby Paxton is here!

Shane and Darcee welcomed their baby boy into the world on Sunday. Paxton Daniel Ralphs weighed in at 7 lb 12 oz and is just beautiful! He looks so much like his mommy. We were able to visit Paxton and his parents last night and Tate and Tori are in love with their new cousin. Tate can't stop telling me how much he loves little Paxton and how cute and sweet he is. Congratulations, Shane and Darcee! You done good!

Happy Halloween

With still two days left until Thanksgiving, I decided it was not too late to post Halloween pictures. We did the usual: carving pumpkins, Trunk-Or-Treat, Preschool Halloween Party, and Trick-or-Treating. Tate was a pirate, of course, and Tori, a superhero. She was originally just going to be Super Tori, but Tate lovingly dubbed her a "tutu supero" and it stuck. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

We're back!

Hello again! Yes, we still exist. Life has been crazy and we've been enjoying it; regrettably, without posting any fun photos for our friends and family to enjoy. What have we been up to? Well, in a nutshell, . . . Phil has nearly completed our basement remodel, Tori is potty trained, Tate wrapped up his first t-ball season, we successfully completed our first campout since our kids were born, Tate learned to read, Shanon is now the proud owner of a digital piano (YES!), we celebrated 9 years of wedded bliss, Tate and Tori completed level 1 of swimming lessons, and Tate graduated from his first year of preschool and began year number two. Throw in work and church responsibilities, along with playdates; baby showers; ward, primary, birthday, family, and work parties; and a few visits to the zoo, the park, the dentist, the pediatrician, and the eye doctor, and I think that about does it. Life is fun!

While I don't have the time or patience to post pictures of all of our escapades of the past six months, I do want to share some photos of the culminating event of the summer: Tate's Fifth Birthday!

I can't believe I have a five year old. I feel like I am officially moving out of the stage of "young mom". But since Tate missed the cutoff for kindergarten and is not officially enrolled in school yet, I think I'll try to hold on to that title for another year. Tate has grown up so much this last year and I keep telling him how sad I am that he is growing up so fast. But he continually promises me that he'll always be my baby so I guess that will have to do. This year Tate became fascinated with pirates so it was easy to go with a pirate-themed birthday party. (This decision was also greatly influenced by the fact that my incredibly talented and creative friend from our old neighborhood threw a pirate party for her son a few years back which gave me a lot of ideas.)

Tate and Tori on Tate's big day. Just in case you forgot what they looked like :)

Tate's actually birthday was pretty mellow because his party was scheduled for the Saturday after. He did love his nerf gun, though!

With all of my efforts going into the party, I just didn't have the time or energy for a fancy cake. Tate had to settle for five cupcakes with a candle in each.

Now, on to the big party. After sending each guest a "message in a bottle" invitation, complete with an eyepatch for each of our buccaneers, we were anxiously awaiting their arrival. All of the preparations had been taken care of.

The cupcakes were ready, complete with skull and crossbones rings.

The pirate sword fruit skewers were ready and waiting.

Our pirate ship was just waiting for our first mates to come "walk the plank" and take a swim in the "shark-infested waters."

Captain Tate and Mom made sure the water balloon "cannons" were ready to go, in case any unfriendly pirates appeared on the horizon.

Our "swab the deck" slip n' slide was all laid out, complete with sea serpent (look closely in the uppper right corner.)

Captain's Cove was all set up for little pirates to come and relax after a hard day at sea.

Everything was ready . . . . And it was a good thing. Because before we knew it, we had little pirates everywhere!! They all enjoyed walking the plank and splashing into the ocean below.

Most enjoyed using the sponges and bubble bath to swap the deck, and a few even enjoyed sliding down as the sea serpent kept things nice and wet.

Captain Tate even got a little soapy during his time scrubbing the deck.

And then . . the unexpected. The Dread Pirate Roberts turned up, in the form of Daddy! Our little pirates were quick to act. They defended their ship by firing over 50 cannons (water balloons) at this pirate villain. (The kids all loved this.)

Here you can see how Captain Tate was especially proud when one of his cannons was a direct hit. He's running back excitedly to tell his Mom. (Even tough pirates still need their mommies :)

Time for grub and grog. Hotdog pirate ships accompanied our pirate ship fruit skewers and chips.

Buccaneers enjoying lunch in Captain's Cove.

Then it was back to work: Treasure Hunting!!

After following some clues, we found the "X" that marked the spot and started digging!

Loads of treasure was to be found. Even by the tiniest of pirates.

Captain Tate, taking a break from the digging to crack quick smile.

Then the faithful crew shared the treasure they had brought, in the form of presents, with their Captain.
And the unwrapping of the often told about, but rarely seen, actual pirate sword.

Yo ho, yo ho - a pirate's life for me!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to Tori!

Tori turned two last week! Can you believe it? I can't. And apparently turning two is exhausting . . . this is Tori at about 10:30 AM the morning of her birthday party. I was arranging cupcakes and she zonked out at my feet. The kitchen floor looks comfy, huh?
Best buds . . . when they want to be :)
Tori and her uncles chowing down at her brithday lunch.
Tori and her "cupcake cake". She blew out her candles like champ.
And downed her cupcake in style. Blue frosting everywhere!

Tori took present unwrapping very seriously. Mostly because she had to fight Tate for every gift. You can see him in the background being held back so he didn't rip open all the presents for her. He's so helpful :)

Tori pulled these cute clothes out of a gift bag from Aunt Andrea and exlcaimed "I lub these!"

She was really getting tired of Tate trying to get in on the present action. Check out the evil eye she's giving him. The super-hero mask only adds to the look; like she's trying to shoot lasers at him.

Our party guests were good sports as we played a few games from "Minute to Win It". Tori was actually quite skilled at "Elephant March".

Although you're really supposed to have the panty-hose on your head, modeled below by Phil. It's a good look for him, don't you think?

Tate loved this game, too.

Uncle Tyson and Oma playing "Nose Dive".

Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate two years with this little cutie! Here she is posing with some of the loot she collected. She especially loved the bright pink shoes which she insisted belonged on the wrong feet. Happy Birthday, Tori-Girl!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Viva La Mexico!

In an effort to escape the cold, snowy, barren, wasteland that is Utah in February, Phil and I decided to head south. Way south. I'm talking "Cruise Ship To Mexico" south, baby! We enjoyed our first real vacation of our marriage aboard the Norwegian Star and had an amazing time.

Here we are at 4:30 in the morning, waiting for our flight at the SLC airport.

This is us at 10:30 the same morning, after an hour and a half flight to Long Beach and three hours of sitting around waiting for time to pass so we could finally board the cruise ship. Notice the slight change in disposition.

This is just outside the Long Beach airport. I was so excited to see palm trees!

I began having second thoughts about the decision to live on a ship in the middle of the ocean. Just kidding!

I knew I was going to lose cell phone service as soon as we pulled out of the port, so I had to take the chance to talk to my kids one last time!

We saw many amazing sunsets throughout the cruise. This picture was taken on the evening of day 1 as we were leaving Los Angeles and were passing by a picturesque light house.

So I am sure you have heard that there is an endless supply of food available upon a cruise ship. This fact is indisputable. But I, personally, was completely unimpressed by the selection and quality of the food. By day 7 I could not eat another morsel of cruise ship food. Phil, on the other hand, didn't mind it too much.

Did you see that?? I promise a dolphin just flipped out of the water right there where that finger is pointing. We saw several dolphins and a few whales but failed to catch any appearances on camera. We also sailed through a school of huge jelly fish.

Just arriving in Cabo San Lucas!! It was a gorgeous area with beautiful beaches and rock formations.

When we arrived in Cabo, the cruise ship couldn't take us right up to the dock so we had to ride in these little "tenders" to get to shore. They packed 150 people in those bad boys.

Here we are, aboard a smaller boat that took us to begin our kayaking/snorkeling adventure!

Just a view of one of the resorts and beaches at Cabo. We were taken by boat over to this beach where we were issued snorkeling equipment and given a kayak and oars. Then we kayaked across the bay to another, more secluded beach. Kayaking was pretty awesome, but, unfortunately, requires two hands so I didn't get any pictures.

This is called Los Arcos and was part of the amazing rock formations at Cabo San Lucas.

Look really closely at this picture. It is not just a really bumpy rock. There is a colony of sea lions laying out in the sun. It was pretty cool, but surprisingly smelly.

We went snorkeling in Cabo and it was FREEZING! I actually can't believe I jumped in, knowing how cold the water was. But I am so glad I did. It was awesome to see such colorful fish so close up. I definitely want to do this again in warmer water. Plus, you just look so cute in your equipment :)

A view of our cruise ship from the beach. This beach was pretty cool because on one side you can dip your feet in the Pacific Ocean and then walk 150 feet to the other side and dip your feet in the Sea of Cortez.

On the beach in Cabo. This beach was beautiful. That rock formation on the left is called Neptune's Finger. Our guide told us we were free to decide which finger it was.

On to Mazatlan. We got a taxi driver to take us around and give us a tour of the City in this bad boy. We saw old and new Mazatlan, a cliff diver, the Golden Zone (poor excuse for a shopping area), and the beach. FYI - The drivers in Mexico are crazy. I think stop signs are just a suggestion not a hard fast rule because nobody really pays attention to them.

A view of the older part of Mazatlan. You can see a famous cathederal that we visited toward the top of the picture. That part of the city was pretty ghetto and I didn't feel entirely safe.

The cliff diver. This guy is freaking crazy.

It looks like he's going to crash right into the rocks, but I'm fairly certain he didn't. (I don't know for sure because I was busy haggling with a Mexican lady over a necklace.)

Hanging out on the beach in Mazatlan. I wish we had beaches in Utah. Although I could live without the peddlers trying to talk you into buying something every 8 1/2 seconds. How many times do I have to explain that I don't want a bracelet with my name on it?

We had just pulled in to Puerta Vallarta, which was beautiful! Much more green than the other two ports.

A lady was walking around encouraging people to take a picture with her bird. I could have sworn that before she put it on my shoulder it did not have a human face growing out of its back. But the camera doesn't lie, right?

At every port, there were guys dressed in camo, wielding machine guns. I'm not sure if they were there to protect us or to protect the Mexican people from us. I highly discouarged Phil from taking this picture because I wasn't sure if they would open fire.

This pirate ship was hanging out in the harbor at Porta Vallarta. I thought it looked pretty cool.

This pic was taken just before our camera battery died. Which totally sucked because we were about to take part in the best activity of the whole cruise. As part of the "Canopy Adventure" in Puerta Vallarta, we were able to do some hiking, climb rope ladders to 150 foot platforms in the trees, cross rope bridges 150 feet off the ground, ride ziplines overlooking the jungle below, and repel down trees. It was slightly terrifying and completely AMAZING!! But, sorry, no pics.

They had an art gallery on board the ship. It seemed kind of odd to me and most of the art was pretty much hideous. Especially these particularly atrocious works that they had on display one night. I told Phil to act like he was really interested in them to see if the gallery people would come try to talk him into buying one. Apparently he can't pull off "art enthusiast" because nobody came.

Confession: I spent a fair amount of time at the internet cafe checking the e-mail for updates on our kids. I missed them so much!

The staff surprised us with a new towel animal every night. They even held a class teaching you how to make your own towel animals at home. Sadly, we did not attend.

Phil ordered this dessert one night and he said it was delicious. It had these two candy stick things sticking out of it; he was in serious danger losing an eye.

I think this was taken while we were waiting for one of the shows to start. There was a different show every night - a hypnotist, a Vegas style show, an improv group, etc. - all of the entertainment was awesome.

Waiting for our flight home outside of the Long Beach airport. I was so excited to get home and see my kids!

The two reasons why I couldn't wait to come back to the cold and snow in Utah! (A huge THANK YOU to Grandma & Grandpa, Andrea & Josh, and Oma & Opa for taking care of Tate and Tori while we were gone!!)