Monday, March 24, 2014

Dead Horse Point

A few weeks ago, the Shenk family headed south in search of warmer weather. We de-winterized our trailer and headed down to Dead Horse Point State Park, just outside of Moab, for a nice camping weekend. It was a place we had never visited and we were excited to see some sunshine and some great views, of course. Unfortunately, Saturday was overcast and cool but we were determined to enjoy some time outside anyway.
"I think I see something cool over there"
A view of Arches National Park
This road looked a lot more fun than the one below
1, 2, 3, jump!
While out enjoying a drive in the Jeep, we pulled over to enjoy the views and let James and Leo play for a bit. James is content to dig in the dirt or play with rocks, twigs, etc. wherever we go and Leo just needs someone to throw a stick to make him happy. So great how easily entertained they both are!
Enjoying the red rock view and a moment of blue sky
"Throw it, Dad! I'm ready!"
After trying to take a couple pictures of James just playing and being frustrated because he made funny faces at me, I asked him to do whatever he wanted for the camera and I would take pictures of it. This is what he did.

Sunday we woke to blue skies and sunshine and we couldn't wait to get out and take a hike! There is a long loop trail that basically goes around the park, so we opted for that. It was over four miles and James was such an awesome trooper. We are always so proud of how well he does on hikes and this time he did it with two large blisters on his heels (great job forgetting the hiking socks, Jill). Tough guy!
Sunshine and a beautiful view? Yes, please!!
He informed me he looked like "more of a dude"
with his hat on backwards. Whatever that means.
James wanted to take a picture of us. It's actually pretty good!
The rock formations are so amazing!
Waiting for Mom who keeps stopping to take pictures...
This scenery never gets old
Chris stops to admire the view and Leo just wants to keep moving.
That dog loves hiking!
Chris and James make friends with a German family on a tour of the US
and Canada in this one-of-a-kind vehicle they had shipped over. The family
was nice enough to let James sit in the driver's seat and honk the horn. 
Peeking through a hole in some rocks at the view to come
Dead Horse Point and the Colorado River
Leo didn't want to miss the view. Ha!
Thanks, willing stranger, for taking this Shenk
Family photo!
Awesome tree
James posing next to the cairn he repaired. He took it upon himself to fix
all of the cairns along the trail. It was so sweet but so slow...
Totally worth the hike!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

James' 5th Birthday Week

Our little man turned five on February 27! How fast the time flies…
We decided not to have a party this year, but instead celebrated in different ways all week. He loved it! I'm pretty sure he is going to expect this every year now. Oops!

We started out the week with a trip to the movies to see The Lego Movie. It's one of our favorite family activities (the movies, not the Legos) and the movie was pretty cute.
At the movies
Since James only goes to preschool on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, his school party was the day before his birthday. It is customary to bring some kind of treat to share with the class and James chose chocolate-covered donuts with sprinkles. Since I didn't figure donuts would survive well in plastic baggies, I got some little boxes and used some pirate bits left over from last year's festivities. 
I used a stamp on the box and wrote a little note about "donut treasure" inside.
James and his teacher, Ms. Flack
We had our little family party on Wednesday night as well, due to what James wanted to do on his actual birthday. You have to keep reading to know what that is. No one will be surprised to hear that James had very strong opinions on everything his cake. He requested a white cake with chocolate brown frosting on the outside and pink frosting on the inside. Not the prettiest thing, but it tasted pretty good. 

Wonder what he wished for...
A new book from Mom and Dad
Trying on his very own hooded shark towel
A sweet snuggle from my big boy. Love him!!
Thursday finally arrived and he was officially 5! I'm pretty sure he told every person we encountered, whether they wanted to know or not. He got a special donut for breakfast and lots of balloons to play with, courtesy of Mom. Just after lunch, his little friend, Mirai, came over to play. Once it was close to the time Chris got off work, the real activity commenced. James insisted on spending his birthday at Classic Fun Center (I was convinced it was a portal to hell, but I really love him so I went.) We met Chris there and James and Mirai got to playing. There were two main activities that they did that night, the jungle area and the bounce house area so it was basically 2 hours of running and jumping. They had a fantastic time! Dinner from Chick-Fil-A on the way home completed the night. He informed me later it was "the best birthday ever" so I suppose it was worth it. 
The elusive kids were briefly spotted in the jungle habitat.
Weird faces achieved when you ask them to stop running and jumping
just long enough to take a picture.
Birthday family picture
Friday night we had a birthday dinner with some wonderful friends at Carrabba's, which was James' restaurant choice. I, unfortunately, did not get any pictures, so you'll just have to trust me that it was a good time.

The rest of the week was spent opening presents that arrived and playing with all his new goodies. Thank you so much to all of you that sent cards, presents, and phoned. We love and appreciate all of your birthday wishes! 
He actually reads the directions and builds the Legos himself now.

Chris and James closed out birthday week on Sunday with a great day of skiing together. 
Daddy and James hitting the slopes!

Happy Birthday to our amazing boy who makes everything better just by being part of our family! We love you more than we could express, even with a week of fun activities and treats.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Return of The Paul Family

After enjoying a wonderful visit with my friend, Stacy, and her kids, Reese and Quinn, last summer, we were thrilled to welcome them back this winter for some fun in the snow! It was also a treat to have Stacy's husband, Danny, along on this trip. 
How cute is this little family?!
Stacy is an outstanding photographer ( and you know I love taking pictures, so this post will be chock full of pictures. Don't say you weren't warned.

James absolutely loves having Reese and Quinn to play with and they seem to have such a great time together. They're just too cute! 

Wrestling in the backyard
They're either making snow angels or playing dead… not sure which.
Sand toys become snow toys in the winter (courtesy Stacy Paul)
There is a great place to go snow tubing in Heber Valley called Soldier Hollow, so we bundled everyone up and headed there for a couple hours of tubing fun.
Let's do this thing!
Reese and James about to head down together
It's fun for adults, too! Don't I look
like I'm having fun?! (courtesy Stacy Paul)
Selfie with James before we head down the hill
There was a really neat attraction nearby, Ice Castles of Midway, so we headed there after our tubing fun. It was like walking around in icicles. They also had an ice slide which the kids loved!
James and I at the entrance (courtesy Stacy Paul)
Reese, James, and Quinn just hanging out
On Saturday, we headed up into the canyon just to play in some serious snow since warmer weather in the valley was melting the snow in our yard. It was snowing pretty heavily up there and we all had a great time just being silly together. 
Winter wonderland
The winter version of Stacy and Danny
Snowball fight! (courtesy Stacy Paul)
Chris throwing a snowball at me. True love.
In my pursuit of awesome pictures, I wandered into an area where I sunk
down to my thighs in snow. It was cold. And deep. And cold.
(courtesy Stacy Paul)
This is our snowman, Snowvador DalĂ­.
The amazing view from where we were playing in the snow.
While we were up in the mountains, Stacy was nice enough to take some family pictures of us. Since we weren't wearing our snow gear for the pictures, she only had about five minutes before we started turning blue. This is the amazing awesomeness she got in no time flat. 
I suppose that James face is better than when he fake smiles at us...
I admit to liking this face the best. He's so cute!
Love my boys!
How sweet is this?! What a great shot!
Of course, playing in the snow is exhausting! We had some pretty pooped kids on the drive home.
They are so cute!!! (courtesy Stacy Paul)
On Sunday, James had his final ski lesson at Brighton, and the Pauls came along to cheer him on, and so Quinn could play in more snow. We had an awesome breakfast at the Silver Fork Lodge and then went back to watch his race. It was a super snowy day!
Look at him go!
On their last full day here, we decided to take in the Natural History Museum of Utah. It is such a great museum with tons of fossils and interesting interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. The kids had a blast! There also happened to be a chocolate exhibit going on, which was awesome for Stacy and I. Souvenirs were purchased. Chocolate souvenirs.
James and Quinn holding hands on the way in. How cute is that?!
Stacy and I in front of a wall of chocolate we wished were real.
We always have such a great time with the Paul family and are so thrilled they come out to visit us! I would also like to say a great big "Thank you!" to Bronze and Symoni for letting us use their SUV so we could all fit in one car. You guys are the definition of great friends and neighbors. Thanks!!
Leo went into a depression when they left.