What was left for us in Arizona? Lots more coloring,
A cookout at Justin and Marie's cute house,
and more cousin time.
Megan was a little jealous of any attention Sammy got from Grandpa.
They played fine together when they didn't have anyone's attention to fight over. We played at the park near the Campbells' house.
Movie night at the Campbells'.
More pictures of a couple of best friends.
We went on a hike. When I told the kids that we weren't allowed to take home all of the interesting rocks, they asked me to photograph their rocks for their collections.
It was a pretty tough hike, but there was no complaining. B sang "Jingle Bells" over and over all of the way down the mountain.
We enjoyed some final rain free outside time before returning home to our soggy trampoline.
As with all winter travel, there were some hangups. Our flight ended up leaving about five hours later than expected. We had time to break out some Christmas present crafts.
Sammy charmed everyone in the airport. He loves to make general announcements when he learns something that he thinks might be interesting to all. He says, "Hey everybody! Going on a plane, everybody!" He made a lot of these announcements in our extended airport stay. My personal favorite was when I was leading him to the bathroom for a diaper change. "Hey everybody! Poop, everybody!" At the top of his lungs.
Sammy doesn't like ear buds. He just likes to do what his brothers are doing.
Except for being extra long, our trip home was uneventful. We were sad to leave our family in Arizona for a little while. When we got home, we were sad to learn that Seth had moved up his move to South America, and was planning to leave only a couple of weeks after we returned home.
Christmas was over, but we had some sunshine to store up before we could go home to rainy Seattle, so we went with the Campbells to the zoo.
The elephant exhibit at the zoo in Tucson is amazing. The elephants were moved away from our zoo in Seattle because we didn't have enough room for the elephants to be healthy.
Tucson has nothing but space, so they have lots of elephants.
A zookeeper brought out an anteater to demonstrate its skills and abilities up close.
Sammy was a fan of giant tortoises.
We got to spend more time with the Hoefferles. I wonder what we could do to persuade them to move to Washington.
These Northwesterner children are not used to the excessive sunshine of Tucson. Sometimes we even have to wear our sunglasses indoors.
While the rest of you are bundling up for the end of the year, we are outside in shorts eating ice cream.
One of the things I wanted to do in AZ was visit the San Xavier Mission just south of Tucson. Our homeschool curriculum this year includes the spread of Christianity around the world, and this is a living example.
Of course we have lots of crafts and games,
and lots of cousin time.
The cuteness continues.
We took a trip to the ostrich farm at Picacho Peak with all of the cousins. B and Ryan are best friends. Each of the kids got a big cup of animal feed to give to the animals.
One of the burros bit Sammy, and the fun of being close to animals was over for him. Since this experience, butterflies have been known to frighten Sammy.
mean and scary ostriches,
and lorikeets that landed right on us.
This was enjoyed by everyone except for Sammy.
We had one more chance to see Uncle Fred and my cousins, Graelyn and Isaac, who came out for a few days after Christmas. We met them at El Guero Canelo for some authentic Sonoran Mexican food. Uncle Fred had the kids as diverted as ever.
We had a big family kickball game on New Year's Eve. The kids went around and around kicking, running bases, and getting back in line. After almost an hour of this, space case Peyton asked me why she was getting back in line. Apparently she had never really seen the point, but it hadn't occurred to her to ask before. Most of the rest of the kids were done soon after. I think Eloise and Jared could have played all night, but it started to rain.
All rain in Tucson is short lived. It was dry enough to do sparklers outside for our New Year's celebration.
And then it was Christmas morning! I think the look on B's face captures the excitement perfectly. All of the kids got roller skates/ roller blades this year.
Eloise had worked very hard to make a book for her brothers. She spent about six weeks of evenings after all of the kids had gone to bed painstakingly writing every word and drawing pictures of a cat named Julie who likes to swim, and her friends Ollie the Otter, and Barky the Dog. We bound it with cardboard and cloth, and then she wrapped it. I think she was gratified when Jared and B dropped everything, stopped opening presents, and read her book right away.
Christmas was on Sunday, so we went to church for an hour after we opened our gifts.
After church we went to Colette's house for Christmas dinner and opening cousin gifts. The Knight kids got matching t-shirts from Mom and Dad.
We tried out some of the new toys and games.
When we went home, Jared took his skates out on the patio.
The weather was so nice that we got lots of skating practice in. Eloise still shuffles, but Jared is starting to glide.
B still prefers biking and chasing balls.
The Tucson temple is supposed to open this summer. This trip was our first chance to get a look at it. We ran into our friends, the Hoefferles who saw us stopped by the temple as they were on their way home from a family gathering in Mesa.
Todd's family has been waiting for a temple to be built closer to them since they moved to Tucson thirty years ago. They have always had to travel over two hours to get to the temple. After all of those years of waiting, this temple feels like it is ours, even though we live so far away.
Just up the road from the temple is Uncle Fred's apartment. We stopped by for a visit. He had the kids shrieking with laughter within minutes of arriving. He would say, "Don't go in the closet! No one is allowed in the closet!" They would all dash into the closet, he would open the door, and they would all scream with laughter and leap onto the bed as he said, "Just don't get on the bed!" Uncle Fred never seems to get tired of making the kids laugh.
Uncle Fred's neighborhood has a skate park built in a drainage canal. These kids aren't ready to do skating tricks yet, but they liked showing off their skills (after one day on skates) to Uncle Fred.
We topped off our day after Christmas with a trip to Jimmy John's for dinner.
I'm so happy that Uncle Fred is living in Tucson. This means we will get to see him more often than we ever have before.