For our Spring Break, we flew to Arizona to visit Tyson's side of the family. Our main reason for going was to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa Smith before they left on their 18 month mission to Cambodia.
We had been counting down the months, weeks and days to this trip! The first of it's kind. One whole week in Mesa, Arizona. No side trips- just one long week playing with cousins in the neighborhood Tyson grew up in. And let me tell you, one week is still not enough!
Taryn and Haddie are great travelers. We set them up with their own backpacks full of coloring, Kindles loaded with Netflix shows, snacks and toys.
It's a long journey out West that starts super early in the morning for us on the East coast, but it's always worth it!
Our first stop at 10:30 am, IN-N-OUT baby! My California roots were doing a happy dance!
Ken & Janette picked us up from the airport (Ken took the day off work - soooo nice!!!!) We met up with Tyson's parents and Tyson's cousin James who had just ended his living in Arizona for a few months for his Art, to head back home to Montana. It was great to see him for a few minutes before we parted ways.
First things first. Feed Bennet the turtle.
Oh how these girls LOVE feeding Bennet the turtle.
Grandma Smith kept green grapes (his favorite) and romaine leaves for us to feed him.
Look at that gorgeous sun! It was about 75-80 degrees for the whole time we were there. WONDERFUL!
Cornhole with cousins.
Haddie & Harper
I'm grateful Haddie and Taryn have cousins around their ages!!
Caleb and Taryn are two crazy monkeys
Pushing throw a day of travel and adjusting to the time change is hard. But cousins, cotton candy, face paint, horse rides, and more sure make it easier!
The girls said it was "the best day ever!"
They crashed hard that night. It was a day well spent!
There is a great place in Mesa called "Krazy Air" which is an indoor trampoline park. WE LOVE trampoline parks!
Caleb played "hookie" from school on this day. YAY!!!
So on our way we went with Caleb.
First, stopping off at a local park, because we arrived a little early.
Then these crazy kids spent their time jumping, climbing and exhausting themselves. I think Taryn and Haddie were exhausted for sure (time change was catching up with them) but Caleb could have kept going for sure.
Exhausting yourself means you need to refuel. Thankfully Grandma and Aunt Netty live right around the corner from our favorite family eatery... "Firehouse subs." We picked up Grandma on our way back from "Krazy Air" and took her for lunch too!
Taryn and Caleb were left at Grandma's to chill and watch a movie while we tried the old "drive around to get your kid to nap" trick. It worked!
We didn't just drive around aimlessly, we drove to Gilbert!
The Gilbert, Arizona temple is gorgeous!!! We jumped out to snap a picture outside while Haddie slept in the car two inches from us.
These naps are crucial to surviving vacation days.
We stopped by Jenny & Todd's house where Whitney had just drove in. It was great to catch up with Whitney, Bailey, Harper and Jenny for a little bit before heading back to Mesa.
Caleb's school was having and Animal night so we stopped by!
There were goats, and Alpaca, snakes, bunnies, chickens, an owl, lizards, toads and so much more.
Our girls were loving it all!
Whitney, Janette and I were laughing about this guy!
Brave Haddie touching a snake (a python?)
These were the CUTEST baby bunnies born just a few days earlier.
They were precious, gentle and so soft.
I couldn't help myself! This is the kind of animal/creature I don't mind loving!
Bunny shirt and holding bunnies.
Oh, and Haddie's hand!
Taryn's heaven! She got to hold so many different creatures. Our animal lover was super happy about it all.
After we had held and learned about the animals and creatures, we played at the park for a bit. Bailey and Haddie played a cute game on the swings. Haddie acted as if she was getting hit and Bailey loved it.
This is what life should be like always. Playing in the backyard with cousins at dusk.
Arizona sunsets can't be beat. I've seen sunsets on the California coast, Hawaii, Thailand, Paris, France, London, and up and down the East coast but nothing compares to the Arizona sunsets.
I think a morning filled with "Just Dance" is a great way to start the day. Janette said Caleb was hesitant to join at first until he saw the girls really loving it.
Next up! Playing at the new Pioneer Park in Mesa, across from the Mesa Temple with cousins!
It was a little too chilly for the splash pad but Haddie gave it a try!
Frisbee was THE game to play. Just by the picnic benches that held out packed lunches and drinks.
It's hard to see, but in the first picture you see Sage and Taryn, hand in hand, walking to the park.
In the 2nd picture you can see Alyssa, Janalee, Bailey, Haddie and Harper walking hand and hand to the park.
I love having older cousins to take care of the younger ones while I chat with my sisters-in-law!
Janalee got a job of face painting at parties.
The girls were happy to have her practice on them.
The only bad thing is my girls have SUPER sensitive skin and had me wipe it off immediately after these pictures because their skin was burning. Janalee said it's the cheap paint someone gave her to practice with. But it was fun!
(our girls break out in eczema after being in Chlorine water, they get heat rash like crazy.. and so many other things. Their skin is soooooo sensitive! )
Pool time at Aunt Nettie's!
It was CHILLY! But the kids still jumped in.
Friday night was pizza at Grandma and Grandpa's. Janette picked up Barro's pizza and we enjoyed a night of kids playing for hours outside. No humidity, no mosquitoes...just barefoot kids running around and having fun while the adults had fun chatting.
We ended the night with the ladies and cousins doing Karaoke style singing to the best songs.
What a fun night !
Tyson and Taryn joined Travis and Sherrod in playing Ultimate Frisbee with Travis' Elders Quorum. They had fun, Haddie stayed close by to watch and play at the park, while I went for a run. Win Win!
We went to Bosa Donuts after with Travis & Sherrod. Trevor met us there too. Bosa makes great donuts! We picked some up to bring back to Mike & Janis too.
Tyson was super excited to meet up for lunch with Colin and Sandy at Joe's Farm Grill. All of them are long time friends since Middle school.
Tyson had been looking forward to this lunch for a long time. So glad they were able to all meet up.
Saturday was also the day Janette hosted the famous family Egg Hunt. The last time we were able to participate, Taryn was only 2 months old. The Booths purchased the best prizes and did a great job at hiding all the eggs around the backyard.
You're released according to age- which means Haddie goes first as the youngest grandchild.
That's our determined Taryn, ready to get all the eggs should could fit into the "basket" provided by Aunt Nettie.
Her "egg-citment" couldn't be held in! Can you see the hatchimal toy flying out of her hands?
I love this photo I caught of Taryn going to great lengths to find as many eggs as possible.
Jumping as high as she could and hanging by her finger tips to get those eggs!
Then after all the eggs were found, cousins took to the trampoline and any spot really, to open their eggs, swap toys and eat candy!
My girls take 3-4 days to adjust to the time zone difference. That adjustment usually comes after a big crash. For Haddie, naps are key. And food. She is our snacker. Food keeps her happy and though it's hard to stop playing with cousins, she knows that naps help! So after she crashed hard at Aunt Nettie's, I took Haddie back to Grandma & Grandpa's to eat lunch and nap.
That really helped her bounce back to her normal self. Well- as normal as you can get when traveling.
It was key to get Haddie back to her happy self because we were going to do Smith family pictures in a few hours!
These are just the snap shots from that night of family photo taking. I'll save the actual photos for a separate post. They're soooo good!
Soaking up every minute with cousins until they had to go home. I love the relationships their building!
The Easter bunny found Haddie and Taryn even all the way at Grandma & Grandpa Smith's home.
We said our goodbyes to Trevor, Whitney and Bailey as they left shortly after we all woke up and found their Easter baskets.
We're very thankful that we got to see them! I know it was a long drive for them to come from Utah and it also meant taking off time for work.
It's hard to come from across the nation and get to see everyone in the family. Trevor and Whitney were champs for coming down to Arizona for a short weekend!
Apparently this bunny cake is a Smith tradition, which I just learned about this year.
But now that Janis taught me how to make it, I think it may become a tradition for us too.
Don't worry - the bow tie will look a lot better next time.
While I worked on the cake and some other things, Tyson took the girls over to Aunt Nettie's to dye some eggs before church.
Everyone was so helpful to Taryn and Haddie!
We loved our time in Arizona, we always do! Family, fun, and great food. What more could you ask for? Everytime we leave, the girls ask, "Can we just stay for 10 more days!?" or "Can we move to Arizona?!"
I'm glad they love beautiful Arizona as much as Tyson and I do.