Ready to head home at the end of a weekend getaway:
Jaren, Makayla, Lexi, Cami, Analyce, Braxton, and Jeremy.
1 Feb 2015
My oldest nephew, Jeremy, is a helicopter pilot. He flies emergency rescue-type life flight air-evacuations in Gilbert, AZ, but every once in awhile he takes an out-of-town gig during his days off for some extra pocket money. That's what he did yesterday, Saturday, covering for a pilot in Springerville, about an hour from my house. To my great pleasure, he brought the rest of his family along with him and we enjoyed spending the weekend with the whole gang!
Front-to-back: Jaren, Makayla, and Analyce.
When Jeremy's crew arrived around 7:00 on Friday night, all of my own children also joined us for a dinner of do-it-yourself sub sandwiches and chips, followed by a long night of sitting up to talk and laugh together. Since Jeremy and Cami have five children ages 8 and under, it was a full house! Which, of course, only multiplies the fun!
Analyce, Makayla, and Jaren feed the ducks near our house.
Jeremy was gone before 6:00 on Saturday morning and didn't return until 7:45 that night, so it was just Cami and me with a house filled with active, noisy children. The kids had been hoping madly for snow, but instead all they got was drizzling rain all day long. Our snow from a couple of weeks ago has all melted off, so all they found when they went outside to play was mud.
We started the morning with breakfast burritos, and then the children passed the time by watching several Disney movies and playing whatever indoor games they could invent. Tuna sandwiches for lunch were followed by another movie. By late afternoon, cabin fever was setting in, so I grabbed some bread that was getting a bit stale (since I've sworn off flour for 2015 and Dylan rarely uses the bread), and I told the three older kids that we should walk down to the neighborhood pond and feed the ducks. They happily agreed.
Though the pond is only about three blocks from my house, it was pretty chilly outside and our dirt roads had become mud-tracks. I wondered if this had really been such a great idea. Once we got there, however, I knew it would be a big hit. As soon as the kids found an opening between the rushes, the ducks spotted them and headed right for them, hoping for some food. The kids were thrilled!
Once the kids had exhausted our bread supply, rooting for their favorite little ducks to reach the morsels before the larger, more aggressive mallards did, they decided that we needed to go back for more bread. They were plotting a way to entice the ducks out of the water and onto the tiny strip of sand at the side of the road.
And so we hiked back home for more bread, but this time I decided we would take my car back to the pond. By now it was after 5:00, meaning the air was getting colder (39 degrees) and dusk was nearing. Since we were driving, Cami decided to bundle up the two babies, Lexi (22 months) and Braxton (9 months) and join us at the pond.
Cami with Braxton and Lexi.
The kids' plan saw moderate success, with a few of the braver ducks venturing out of the pond to gobble the bits of bread that had been left at the side of the water. In order to tempt the ducks out of the water, the kids had to back away from the area. When the ducks stepped out onto dry land, it was so hard for the children to stay back, especially Lexi, who would shriek with excitement and leap forward, scaring the birds back into the pond. Even the older kids jumped and cheered whenever the smaller black ducks beat the mallards to a crumb.
Chris and Sarah arrived while we were at the pond, so they joined us, although Chris had to restrain their dog, Diego, so he wouldn't chase the ducks away. The pond is one of Diego's favorite places to play.
Playing a hot game of Wizard.
After returning from the pond, everyone got involved in a game of Wizard, which is Analyce's new favorite game. They got so into it that the game was still going strong when we called a halt for dinner. For Saturday night, it was tacos.
I would like to point out that I remained strong in keeping my New Year Resolution of no flour or sugar in 2015, despite the bread-based meals we enjoyed this weekend, and it is paying off, slowly. Today, exactly one month (31 days) after starting, I've lost 9 lbs. And that was even with one weekend of travel and of navigating the food selections during a full day of wedding festivities! And eating out twice.
While the others were eating sub sandwiches and chips, I stacked the provolone, roast beef, buffalo chicken, lettuce, red onion, and tomato (with a layer of mayo) on my plate to eat with a knife and fork, and I said no to the chips altogether.
When everyone else had breakfast burritos, I skipped the tortilla and instead mounded the sausage, scrambled egg (with diced chilies and onion), and shredded cheese in the middle of my plate and used a fork.
While they ate tuna sandwiches, I mixed my tuna and celery with shredded lettuce and ate it as a salad.
Finally, for last night's dinner I skipped the corn tortillas and ate my taco inside-out, with all the ingredients mixed on my plate: taco-seasoned ground beef browned with sauteed onion, topped with tomato, green onion, olives, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. It was yummy, even without the fried tortillas.
Jeremy in the kitchen.
We all stayed up much too late again, talking and talking, before everyone went home and we all turned in around midnight. Then this morning, Jeremy made French toast for everyone. It was a huge hit for the little people, even though they'd all had a breakfast of cereal earlier that morning. When Jeremy finally sat down to enjoy his breakfast, he found himself surrounded by tykes who wanted "Moh!" (That was Lexi's word.)
As for me, I made myself an omelet of leftover sub sandwich fixings: provolone, roast beef, and red onion. Surprisingly tasty, though I admit French toast would have been better...
Jeremy is a popular guy at breakfast time!
Soon after breakfast, Sarah, Chris, Jacob, and Danielle came over to see our guests one last time before they left the mountain, but they arrived just as Jeremy and Cami were preparing to head up toward Sunrise Ski Resort to let their kids play in the promised snow. (That area is more than 1,000 feet higher in altitude than our town; hence, more snow.)
Danielle and Jacob with Braxton.
So it was just me and my kids for about two hours while Jeremy's crew frolicked in the snow. Except, to our delight, they left little Braxton with us. We all enjoyed the time we spent with him.
Cami had predicted that her children would only last ten minutes in the snow (Jeremy predicted fifteen) before they were too cold and begging to be back in the car, but the kids surprised them. They had a great time playing and, when they drove back to our house afterward, the children were already begging to come back to Aunt Mary's place sometime when there's more snow. I surely hope they will!
Dylan got a sweet smile from Braxton when he took this selfie!