Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Departure

The shopping season this year was a little strange for me. With all of the things we needed to purchase for our house in Page, I admit that I often put Christmas gift shopping on the back burner. In the end, it all got done, and we didn't even have to scramble at the last minute.
We had the missionaries over for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner and then had our usual Christmas traditions. We always read the Christmas story from the Bible and then we open one gift, often pajamas. The kids were kind enough to sleep all the way until about 7:00 on Christmas morning.
Once gifts were opened, breakfast was had and everyone was settled and content, we looked around and decided that we were going to pack and depart for Page a day early! Our original plan was to leave the day after Christmas, but with all of the work we had to do in the coming week we thought an extra day would be good to have. The kids were troopers getting all of their stuff together, helping us load and rolling with it all. Sometimes having older kids is a real bonus.
AZ, here we come!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Page House Transformation Project Part I

As soon as we arrived home from San Antonio and the Junior Olympics, we shifted gears. In September, the people that had been renting our house in Page for the last two years informed us that they were buying another house and moving out. After several false starts, the house was finally vacated the first weekend of December. In between the time we found out they were leaving and when they actually left, we made a major decision about the fate of our beloved home. Rather than trying to sell it again, we opted to turn it into a vacation rental!

Page is in the center of what is known as the Grand Circle. If you have never heard that term, you are certainly familiar with all of the things in the near vicinity that you can visit. Just pick a direction, and within a matter of minutes or just a couple of hours you can be at some spectacular places like Bryce or Zion national parks, The Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam, The Grand Canyon, to name a few. Then of course there is our personal favorite and closest option, Lake Powell!!

We know a couple of people that are getting into the vacation rental business, and it seems to be a pretty great option. The biggest obstacle would be getting the house in tip top shape and then furnishing the whole thing. All four bedrooms, three bathrooms, 2600 sq. feet of it! Wowza!

It actually turned out to be a blessing that we had some lag time between finding out our renters were leaving and when they actually left. It gave us more rent money of course. Very good. But it also gave us time to make plans, shop around and wrap our heads around all of the things we would need to do to get this up and running. Black Friday was a lifesaver as far as cost for a lot of the household goods we needed.

Back to the return from San Antonio.

We got in from our Texas travels at about 9:30 Sunday night. We were beat after all the excitement. Come Monday morning, we kicked into high gear. After sending the kids off to school, I took the morning off of work to help Theo load up all the stuff we had amassed over the previous two months. We even borrowed a trailer from a friend and put a hitch on the Acadia. Theo was off to begin the renovation process.

Yes, that is as crazy loaded as it looks! Inside the car was packed inside to the roof which had a rug strapped on top, and the trailer was piled to the sky with everything from our washer and dryer to our dining room table and chairs (I got a new ones! Yay me!).

Theo spent a week in Page working on the house. Unfortunately, it needed more work than we had anticipated. We were so very lucky that many of our friends came and helped! Thanks Moses, Otis, Mac and of course Theo's mom, Lisa! They tore out carpet, hauled trash, took down blinds, patched holes, painted, painted, painted, and scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed!

Also while in town, we had new floors put in the house. Wood in the kitchen and carpet everywhere else. This made such a huge difference!

With the days flying by, we had to save a lot more of the work for after Christmas. Theo is such a hard worker! He made so much progress. Check in again After Christmas for the second part of this story and all of the "after" pictures.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

San Antonio

Last year, our three younger boys participated in the Junior Olympics held in Albuquerque. At that event, they advertised the venue for the following year, San Antonio, which would include tickets to Sea World! They have looked forward to it ever since.
Fast forward one year, and the boys have been working hard with their running club, the Amarillo Striders to prepare for this big race. A wonderful bonus was Grandma Ross agreeing to fly out from Salt Lake to spend the long weekend with us!
The boys in their team gear

On our way into Sea World for the traditional pasta dinner

It was a little chilly and misty strolling through the park which was all decorated for Christmas.

Checking out the course the day before the race
We really wanted to see as much as we could while we were in San Antonio. One of the things that the boys wanted to try was a pizza place called Dough. It was great gourmet pizza, and the best part was the dough each kid got to throw for themselves. It was then fired in a woodburning brick oven. Delicious!

The day of the race arrived, and we had a kid running every hour from youngest to oldest. The number of kids was a lot bigger than the previous year, over 400 in each race! It was crazy! All three of our boys ended up right in the middle of the pack. We were so proud of them!
After the racing excitement, we decided to head to Sea World. This still seems strange to me that San Antonio even has a Sea World as they are so far inland (look at a map!). We trekked all over the park looking at the exhibits and taking pictures.

Late in the day, we decided to hit the famed Shamu show. Many years before, we had gone to Sea World when the boys were pretty young. Drake was the only one who really remembered (especially being soaked with Grandpa Martin during the dolphin show). On that trip, we didn't get to see Shamu since she had given birth just one day before our arrival. All we got to see was her swimming laps with her baby. Bummer! So this time around, we were pumped. We got to the arena, got our seats and settled in with anticipation of the spectacle. And then, the announcement....

The trainers were so excited and pleased to announce that for only the 29th time in all of Sea World history, Shamu had given birth to a beautiful baby just days ago! WHAT?!!! You have got to be kidding me! They gave us a bunch of interesting stats, pointed out the mom and calf circling the pool, fed Shamu some fish, and that was IT! I couldn't believe it. What luck. (*sigh*) At least there were plenty of other things to see.


On our last day in San Antonio, we went to visit downtown including the Alamo and the River Walk. The kids were all super anxious to get to the Alamo. I think they looked forward to it even more than Sea World. Their history teachers must be doing something right! It was actually pretty cool!


Anyone you ask about sights to see in San Antonio always mentions the River Walk. You have to go there! I was reserving judgment as I tend to do when people hype something a bunch. It was actually super cool and far more beautiful than I anticipated. Grandma even sprang for a boat tour. It was awesome.


After playing tourist, we had one last lunch stop before we had to take Grandma to the airport. A friend of mine had suggested we seek out Lulu's bakery at some point for a colossal 3 lb. cinnamon roll. They were also famous for their chicken fried steak. How could we pass that up? We found the little hole in the wall and we were not disappointed! Pure heaven!

With full bellies and happy hearts, we whisked grandma off to the airport and winged our way home to Amarillo. What a wonderful time we had! Thanks, San Antonio!