Happy New Year!
It has been an absolutely exciting year for us, full of drastic changes and amazing adventures and opportunities. Here’s how our year went, with plenty of photos to prove how amazing it was!
We began the year on the road (how appropriate for us). We had just visited family for Christmas and began the long journey back from Wisconsin just before the New Year. We started the 2013 in Utah, then arrived home to Arizona by evening.
January wrapped up pretty uneventful with a little snow and rain but decent temps.
February was a quick month. We have always tried to explore our area and especially since I work at a resort, it’s important to become knowledgeable about the area in order to recommend things for the tourists to do. (Makes me sound smart when they ask me.) This month we drove down to Camp Verde and visited Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well, Native-American ruins. Some of the coolest ruins I’ve seen. It’s almost as if they built the first high-rise apartment of their day.
March was a busy month for us. Mason took a field trip with his school to the Grand Canyon. What a field trip, huh? We went to a public museum when we were little. THIS is why I love living out West. These kids get to experience and live so much history here.
And-we’re right next to California!
I began planning a trip to California as soon as I moved to Arizona. I had been to California before but wanted to show my boys. We’re only a few hours from the coast so why not, I figured? This trip wasn’t exactly as well-thought out and planned as I would have liked but we did see some really cool things. The problem was I wanted to see ALL THE THINGS. You just can’t do that in California with a few days. I don’t think a lifetime of exploring in California would be enough.
We began in Vegas. My mother-in-law and her fiance flew into Phoenix and spent a day with us in Sedona and we followed them out to Vegas a few days later. We met up at a resort and did some sight-seeing and eating and eventually drove to a friends house in Paso Robles, CA.
We drove around California–a lot. Most of our time there was spent on the road. We saw wine country in Paso Robles, drove over a mountain on a dirt road and descended onto the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Still–one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. We drove up the 101 to Big Sur, saw condors and watched for whales and seals and then to Monterey where we spent the night with a fireplace in our room. On the way home, we stopped at Pismo Beach, where the boys were excited to drive on the beach and drove through Santa Barbara, Pasadena, and Northern L.A. on to Joshua Tree National Park before heading home.
In April, flowers were blooming everywhere in the neighborhood and the days were warming up nicely. Thanks to the kind folks at Out of Africa Wildlife Park, they comp’d us a couple of tickets and we took a trip down to Camp Verde. You can read all about our trip here.
May brought even more flowers and sunny summer days. We spent a big portion of the month fishing, playing, and lounging by the creek. More kids moved into the neighborhood too, which made the boys very happy. They came equipped with a trampoline. The boys became very close friends to their neighbors, very quickly.
I’m very fortunate to work at a resort and receive the benefits I do from local businesses. One of those local businesses, Blazin’ M Ranch, offered my family free tickets to their Chuckwagon dinner and variety show. We all had a blast and our cheeks hurt by the end of the night. We took old fashioned photos, we each took a turn shooting a Colt-45, ate a fabulous chicken and bbq rib dinner, and watched a highly entertaining show with comedy, music, and ghost riders. It was one of the best nights we’ve had out as a family.
I bought a BMW convertible in June!!
And my husband and I celebrated our 7th Anniversary and really had the best time. He arranged for a limo to take us to dinner and then we spent the night at the resort I work for, in a house with a hot tub outside. Jackson joined us after dinner and we had a blast!
Later in the month, Pink Jeep offered me a free tour and threw a party for their concierges. I did the Broken Arrow tour before ending the night with delicious hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and live music.
July was HOT! It was all a sweaty, hot blur. There were swim lessons for the boys…
…A trip to Colorado and some jeeping in the mountains above Ouray…
And a celebration and photographer gig for moi, as our two friends Dawn and Kristy took the plunge…literally.
Somewhere in there, I celebrated my 32nd birthday.
August was hot and the days were sticky as the monsoon rains came. The swamp cooler did little to provide comfort. To beat the heat, we decided to take another road trip adventure. This time, through the desert to Page, Arizona where I took a photographer’s tour of Antelope Canyon. The boys and I hiked to Horseshoe Bend, and we visited Glen Canyon Dam as well.
This turned out to be our last road trip of the year and our last trip together as the four of us. From now on, it’s my boys and I on our adventures. For a while, at least. Becoming a single mother this month was the beginning of a new set of challenges in life but doors of possibilities flung wide open so I could believe and hope in our new future.
Some great photography was made too.
September was a new beginning for us. We tried our best to work out the kinks of a single-parent family and trudged on with our lives, while beginning our home school phase. We dove in head first and began creating a schedule that worked for us. We seem to all really enjoy it.
Monsoon season was especially wet this year, which made the creeks rise more than usual, which meant less creek time for us. Excellent fishing for our Blue Heron friend though.
We celebrated Jackson’s 5th birthday in September with a super hero birthday party. I made super foods and a super hero backdrop photo booth. Our neighbors and friends came and made it a great time with live music and even fire dancing. We have the most unique neighborhood full of amazing talent, by the way.
Another perk of the job, a free helicopter ride over Sedona from our friends at Sedona Helicopter Tours. Absolutely, hands-down, the BEST way to see Sedona. I took my little man for his special birthday treat. I’m not sure who was more excited though. That was the most excited I’ve ever been at 8 am. No question.
We spent the rest of our summer days doing things in the community to keep busy. We went to our first annual Verde River Days where the boys dug for treasures in the sand, climbed a rock wall, and the big one tried out his hand at kayaking–solo. He loved it and looked like a real natural. He’s done this before though. When we lived on Lake Vallecito, our friends would take him kayaking and he loved it then.
In October, we celebrated another birthday. The big one turned 11. Seriously. Someone tell me where years 1-10 went please. Oh! Right there in the photo album. :)
For Mason’s birthday treat, he really wanted to do the ropes course up in the trees in Flagstaff. So we took his neighborhood friend and they had a blast racing through the course. Smiles to prove it.
We ended the month with Halloween and a very lucky streak, as we won the “Guess the weight of the Biggest Pumpkin” contest at our local grocery store. I guessed the weight right on the dot and won in a tie-breaker. I carved my first ever Halloween pumpkin scene and later took the boys trick or treating around town. We had a great night!
Jackson also took up skateboarding this month with a new birthday present and we began to become regulars at the Sedona Skate Park.
November was a tough month, spiritually, as I lost my grandmother and struggled with my marriage even more. It was a month of dramatic change in myself and becoming who I am meant to be, without reservation or apology. This was my biggest month of growth as I struggled to deal with my own grief in more situations than one. My grandmother taught me to believe and hope and to always do what makes me happy. So I will. In her honor.
We visited relatives in Wisconsin for a few days while we celebrated my grandmother’s 97 blessed years. It was a wonderful visit with a whole bunch of emotions but I am so grateful to have had the time with my family, my sisters and brothers, nieces and nephew, my parents, my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. Unfortunately, we had to get home before Thanksgiving, which saddened us all. It took a few days to get back into routine but we did and we had a fabulous Thanksgiving meal, just the three of us, in our Sedona home.
One more to go..
Bring on December!
December was a great month. Only a touch of snow in the beginning and 60 degrees and sun on Christmas Day. A little weird for us Northerners, but we’ll take it.
We had our first ever group field trip with members of the Sedona R.O.C.K’s Homeschool group. Our new friends at the Chocolatree allowed us to hang out in the chocolate room making deliciously sinful organic chocolate treats.
It’s been a joyous and blessed year and December proved that to be true. Christmas miracles happened left and right for the boys and I and the boys declared this Christmas to be their “BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVER.”
Looking back on our year, it’s been pretty darn fantastic, despite the drama in my marriage and losing one of my world’s greatest ladies, my grandmother. We are so blessed to have the opportunities we do out here and the love of our neighbors and friends, more like family, around us. This year has shown us some incredibly difficult lessons but it’s also changed the way we do and feel things. And you know what they say: Change is good.
As we close the door on 2013 forever, we take with us the courage, the hope, the belief, and the perseverance that 2013 created in us and use it to make our dreams happen in 2014.