Thursday, August 25, 2016

First Family Camping Trip

Last weekend was our first family camping trip!

I have been dying to go camping for years now but with being pregnant, then breastfeeding, AZ hot weather, and then an army crawler, it just never seemed to be a good time. Well now that Jack is finally walking I thought it was a perfect time to get out of the heat and house.

Now even though it's "fall" in most places, AZ is still in the dead of summer and will be for quite some time. So we still had to pick somewhere with a high enough elevation to get cool weather. But because it's also monsoon season the weather is pretty unpredictable. Flash floods, haboobs (dust storms), hail, rain, and other crazy weather patterns are all pretty much normal this time of year. And finding somewhere Max hasn't gone is damn near impossible (see Lesser Places). This all lead up to us (really Max) choosing Mt. Graham as our vacation destination.

And it was perfect.

It is a giant tall mountain in southeast Arizona, very close to the NM border. It's a hefty drive (4-5 hrs.) from our house which gave us some pause with a toddler and two dogs but we figured no amount of screaming, or panting for that matter, could last forever right? The drive, though long, went pretty smoothly. The only real "issue" we had is that Jack somehow figured out how to unscrew his snack cup and got granola trail mix all over him, the car seat, the dogs, and the back seat. It was truly impressive.

We reached the base of the mountain around 10:30AM. As you start to climb you can see the world change and that is by far the coolest thing about living here. You can go from desert floor with snakes and scorpions to pine trees, squirrels, and deer in a matter of a few hours. It's truly magical.

We finally got to the top and picked out our campsite. Now for the big test; Jack vs. Nature. He loves to be outside, no matter how hot it is but he doesn't like to touch it. However here, he was going to have to touch it. I got him out of his car seat and let him go for it. He walked around timidly with his arms up so as not to accidentally brush a blade of grass. He was getting his nature legs.

Sure enough pretty soon he fell down and there it was, nature was all over him. He threw his arms up and started whining looking around for anyone to save him. I picked him up a few times and each time was a little easier and eventually he put his hands and head down in the grass and stood up on his own. He started running all around the campsite. Bending down and looking at grass, weeds, flowers, and bark. Pebbles and rocks were his favorite.

Jack conquered nature.

We spent the rest of Friday enjoying the cool weather and chasing after Jack. He was the happiest little camper.

That night was a bit rough, our camping neighbors were a bit loud and crazy and Jack never sleeps well in new places.

We had also placed our tent on what we thought was flat ground only to find out after Jack had gone to sleep that it was sloped. Luckily it was sloped left to right and not head to feet so blood wasn't rushing to our heads but stopping yourself from rolling over your husband, two dogs and into a pack & play all night led to some soreness the next day. But o'well it kept us entertained during our wake hours with Jack.

The next morning Jack got us up around 5:30AM which sucked but wasn't surprising. We ate some delicious oatmeal and headed out to our hike of the day. Max didn't tell me anything about the hike except that there was a waterfall at the end.
I was in.
I was wrong.

Because we are on a giant mountain the trails either have to go up or down.
This trail went down... a lot. Then flat for a while. Then down more. Not so bad. I could do this all day. I basically just fell down the side of a mountain. Who can't do that? But then you look behind you and you remember you can't fall up.

You know in CA when there are rock slides and they put up those giant signs "Beware rock slide area. Boulders could crush you" and you see a tiny orange wood barricade holding up gigantic boulders and all you can think is "No way, who in their right mind goes near that!"... yeah that's what I was thinking when I turned around. There was nothing but a sheer wall of rocks and boulders that I had basically just stepped over to get down this far. I wish I could fall up.

We never made it to the falls. The trail got harder to follow, narrow, and with low lying branches Jack was getting pretty beaten up on Max's back. We also didn't bring lunch so we had to be back at camp around noon. We decided to turn around. Now for the hard part. I basically had to climb up a rock slide.

Now I'm sure over at Lesser Places Max is saying that it was an easy day hike and he enjoyed the mild exercise.

He's wrong.

As I climbed higher and I felt my heart and lungs exploding and I knew the end was near, we stopped for a drink and I looked down to see this little heart leaf growing in the side of the mountain. It was adorable.

Now I guess I can admit it wasn't the hardest climb but it was not easy. And to someone who has gone on like 5 hikes in the last 2-3 years this was pretty hard. The fact I survived is a win for me. Even Jack was mad when we got back to the car.

But we made it.
We went back to camp and had some lunch and snacks and watched Jack play some more.

Considering that he slept for a lot of the hike we weren't too optimistic for nap time.

And after trying for about an hour we gave up. Just as we were climbing out of the tent from the failed nap attempt it started to sprinkle. It was on and off for a while but then what seemed out of no where it started to down pour and I mean pour. It even started to hail.

Max and I made the call to pack it up early. We were planning on heading home Sunday morning but with only another hard night with little sleep and more rain to look forward to we didn't see much point in staying. Max rushed us into the tent and he stayed outside packing up. Jack, me and the dogs packed up the insides of the tent safe and dry...mostly.

Once there was a break in the storm we made a run for the car so Max could break down the tent. He threw the last few things in the car and were out of there. The drive down the mountain in the rough weather wasn't easy but we made it.

We were sad to leave so soon, the trip was more fun than either of us expected. We were so proud of Jack and how well he did. We can't wait to go on another trip.

We looked back for a final look at our dream vacation and the entire mountain was engulfed in a hell storm. We made the right call. But that didn't make it any easier.

I miss you mountain. But we'll visit another day.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sewing School

Last Thursday was my first day of school!

Well sort of...

Way back in May for Mother's Day Max (and Jack) gave me sewing lessons! I have been a self taught sewer ever since I got my Nana's sewing machine 3 years ago. I loved it as soon as I started. My mom has been my main source of information as well as youtube and trial by fire. But nothing I made ever made it to the next level; it never had the umph I was looking for. So being the wonderful husband that he is Max found a place that gave lessons and signed me up.

And last Thursday was my first day at The Sewing Asylum!

I felt like a kid. I was nervous about all the other people liking me, I didn't know my teacher, and I had no idea where I was going or what to do.

My biggest worry; however was that I wasn't good enough. I am an accountant after all, and we aren't known for our creativity (and if we are it's probably not a good thing). I thought everyone there would be working on grand ball gowns, detailed quilts, or super fancy embroidery and I'd be there like "hey can I make a skirt, that's only two pieces right?".

Max proceeded to make fun of me and tell me that only I would worry about not being good enough for lessons. I guess I'm still a 12 year old girl at heart.

I walked in and tried not to be shy or embarrassed that I had a sewing machine from 1950 while everyone else had newer fancier ones. I set up and tried to ignore my own thoughts. I distracted myself by looking around the shop and listening in to the general hum of conversations. To start off the shop is small but super cute. It has plenty of notions and fabric and one long table for machines and three cutting tables. It's actually pretty perfect and it makes me long for the days of my craft room.

Once class started the instructor / owner, Erica, was quick to get me set up and introduced, which I greatly appreciated. I brought a pattern along because frankly I wasn't sure what to bring and that seemed like a good place to start :).

(I'm doing view B. I can't wait to see it finished!)

I told her I haven't really sewn anything post pregnancy so getting measured was priority #1. Shen then told me to use a pattern like 2 sizes larger than I thought! I wasn't upset by being bigger, I had a baby who cares. I was more shocked that I was so far off base. I guess that's why I'm there.

She then told me the single greatest piece of advise I had ever received. IRON THE PATTERN PIECES. Ok for those that don't sew, patterns are printed on super super super thin tissue paper and it's folded like a billion ways to Sunday and un-folding it takes a pure act of God. This is the main reason I gave up on patterns and started making my own things. Also ironing a thin piece of paper seemed like a fire hazard, but she assured me I wouldn't burn down her adorable shop. And of course she was right. I now had perfectly flat pattern pieces. I would pay for lessons all over again just for that.

I spent the rest of the night pinning, cutting and sewing a few pieces together.

And of course Max was right too. I made friends and no one hated me or seemed to judge me. We swapped stories and gossiped the night away. I have to say I'm super excited for my next lesson this week!

And I can't wait to share the beautiful dress I am sure to have by the end of this ;).