Sunday, January 17, 2010

Zion in Winter

For Christmas we gathered almost the entire Bailey family together -- my mom and dad, brother Ryan and his wife Hanni, Sister Shalise and Steve, (brother Matt was a scrooge), and with all of our kids spent the weekend in St. George. It was cold. Dixie of Utah my foot. Phoenix has nothing to worry about, believe me. But in Phoenix, you can't see Zion in winter, and that is worth frozen extremities any day, if you ask me.

Intrepid souls that we are, ice and snow did not dissuade us from taking at least a couple of short hikes. And was it ever rewarding. Not only did the kids get to "ice skate outside" (much to my horror at times), we were rewarded with views that could not be beat.

This picture does not do justice to the Great White Throne. There was no way to capture the scale of that thing. Amazing.

Here we are at the gateway to the Narrows. The shot below perhaps gives a sense of the immensity of this place.

Here I am with my dad and boys along the Narrows trail. Dad and mom both worked here after graduating from high school in the 50s. It was nice to be back with them some 50 years later.

After leaving Zion, my dad, mom and Shalise's family spent some time with my family in Snow Canyon, playing on the sand dunes there. The photo below is Keegan and my dad. (Check out the look on Keegan's face-- he is full of it, I'm telling you.)

My only memories of this place were as a kid many years before, with my parents watching me and my siblings as I now watched my kids. Coming back with my kids and my parents was an interesting experience. Sweet with both memory and new fun, of course, but also odd to be here as a parent, together with my parents.

I found myself wishing hard that my parents were young again. They treated us to such wonderful times as kids, and I wanted them to have the same experience all over again with my kids, to share in what I was feeling watching them. As much as they enjoy my kids (and frequently remind me that it is much more fun to be a grandparent than a parent), with my parents in their 70s Father Time hangs a little heavier over the joy of these moments. It makes carefree, uninhibited exuberance a bit harder to come by. How nice it would be to have them as same-aged family or friends, seemingly with time to spare and just watch my kids enjoy life and grow up. I don't really believe in regret, it is a pointless emotion, but if I have a regret in life, it is that Kath and I did not start our family a little sooner. Nothing to do about it now, of course, except make the most of the time we have left with all of us on the same planet, and so that is what we did.

Here is Kate taking a flying leap.

Alden and his cousin Liam were in heaven. Just blow that picture up and look at their faces -- everything that is wonderful about little boys can be seen right there.

Needless to say, a little sand in the hair is a small price to pay in a place like this -- good thing there were showers at the house we rented.

Here we are at the end of the day, a great day to be alive and with family. I will post later about more fun with the Bailey Fam in St. George.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where have we been (2009 edition)?

Okay, so we have been away for a while. Sorry. Where have we been? Partying, of course! You see, from October 31 to Christmas is always a big party for the Baileys. First comes Halloween, a perennial hit, then in order: Brett's birthday (Nov. 5th), Alden's birthday (Nov. 10th), Keegan's birthday (Nov. 24th), Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Wahoo! Between that and work, I have had little time to do anything else. I will try to make up for it though. Below, posts from each of those events (except Thanksgiving--too busy cooking, I guess).

Halloween 2009

We started off right, with Keegan being as big a goofball as he could possibly be (and trust me, that is big) during the carving of pumpkins.

The kids were, respectively, Hermione Granger (Kate), a Star Wars Clone Trooper (Alden) and Batman (Keegan). We bought their costumes early, and I think Alden and Keegan did not take them off for a moment during the full week before Halloween. They were in heaven.

In case you didn't know this, being Batman is very, very serious business, and he never, ever smiles when his mask is on. Never. In fact, if you feel you have to smile, it requires lifting the mask, letting everyone know it is really Keegan, and then smiling.

Cousin Jude was our first trick or treater. They look like they could be trouble one of these first days, don't they? It was a very successful evening, with Keegan even eating so much candy in one fell swoop that he said, "I'm sick" and promptly threw up. Nice finish, no? Who are that kid's parents anyway?

Aldy's Birthday

This boy is something special, no doubt about it. He is the most persistent force on the planet (next to gravity and erosion, of course, though he is gaining on the latter almost daily). He knew what he wanted, and wore his mom into going to Target with him three weeks before his birthday to make sure she bought the correct presents (Star Wars Legos and a Batmobile). She did so on the condition that he would not open them before his birthday. He agreed and kept his word to the letter, but proceeded to tote all three boxes (which were too big for him to carry in one load) into every room he occupied during the three weeks, as well as carrying them with him on every car ride. At night, he would line them up in his room and fall asleep looking at them. One day, he lined them up very precisely on the breakfast table while eating and, looking dreamily at them said, "Dad, don't you just love how my presents look?"

Needless to say, what it lacked in surprise, Aldy's Birthday made up for in sweet anticipation. Here are a few photos.

Here he is doing his best Scooby Doo impression with Grandma.

Uncle Ryan and aunt Hannie came by, with a Star Wars toy that did not require assembly, thank goodness.

Here he is opening a transformer from Grandma and Grandpa, with my family around him. It was one of the few surprises of the night, but a big hit--at least after the 2 hours it took two or three adults to figure out how to transform it. The engineer that makes up those directions needs to be pushed off a very high bridge somewhere for the sake of parental sanity.

Post party he spent literally hours on end, without interruption, assembling his Star Wars legos. (The one on the right had like 400 pieces and was incredibly complex.) He spent every minute of the assembly process with his tongue hanging out, intensively following every step of the 100 page instruction booklets (Transformers need to hire that guy). He did the entire thing by himself, with minimal help. Just amazing.

The result was severely chapped lips (just take a close up look at those) and a proud self discovery. At the end, he said, "Dad, I am good at building things, aren't I?" There can be no doubt about that. He really shows a discipline and ability to concentrate that is beyond me even at age 47 (impending senility could have something to do with that, I suppose). In any event, he is just a great boy, who is so endearing we can't help loving him completely and dearly.

Keegan's Birthday

If Alden is endearing, Keegan is "cheeky," as my very english Great Grandma Mim would say. He is just a character. Here we are holding hands and singing happy birthday to him. Note the persistent Batman regalia, almost a month after Halloween. You can guess what his birthday wishes involved.

As you may recall, he is a big cake and icing eater -- and nothing gets in the way of that, ever.

Did I mention he was cheeky?

Bat Copter's and Bionicles, and he was a happy little man, especially once the construction expert in the family put the latter together for him.

Christmas 2009

We followed all that up with a great Christmas day. Keegan's brother and sister helped him figure out the finer points of present opening, and we were off to the races.

By the way, anyone who thinks he is not seriously beautiful just needs to get their eyes checked. Dang, he is a handsome little guy. Thank goodness I married up -- no other explanation for it!

Kate scored an iPod this year (as well as the new Percy Jackson book) and was off to her own world quicker than you could say boo. Teenager-dom is so close I am already shaking in my shoes and thinking about buying my first ever gun.

Aldy scored an Optimus Prime and a huge bionicle thingy that kept him occupied for most of the next two days.

Keegan got a Blue Beetle to go with his Batman set, and was happy as a clam. He carried it around with him for days.

Here he is with Grandpa, saying that this was "just what I always wanted." I don't think he even knew what it was.

Grandma Gayle made a special quilt for Kate, who really does love her Grandma very much.

We finished off Christmas Day with a great Moon family gathering, and it was a perfect way to top off the day. But that was only the beginning of the fun. More to come in the next post!