Saturday, October 18, 2014

road trip to utah

Brady, Melanie and I took a quick road trip last week.  By quick, I don't mean a short drive. But quick as in we drove to Utah and were only there 2 days and then came home.
Here are the people we ran into:

Cynthia J, Melanie's friend from Phoenix. We didn't communicate well with her and we had a hard time meeting at the right time when we were traveling through and she was getting off work, but it was worth it. Cynthia has been a good friend for many years. (and she got engaged this past week!)
Brady dropped us off at the temple and drove a few miles down the road to the nearby college campus to find a place to study for a couple hours. The minute he stepped out of the car and onto the campus, he got a text "Are you in town?" "ummm, yes, I just got here" "What are you doing here? I just saw you out the window of the library! Come meet me up here"  It was a friend from the mission field. (Elder Christiansen, no picture)  What are the chances?


We stayed with our nephew and niece, Dave and Chelsea and their 4 adorable kids.
It's always fun when there are an abundance of Hales in one house. Thanks for your hospitality - you made our visit super easy.


As we were walking into the conference center, I realized Brady was talking to someone.  I know there are lots of people who attend conference, but of 36,000 people walking into 5 different sessions of conference, (that's 180,000 people?) what are the chance that someone you went to high school with would be walking in right beside you?  Rachel and Norman B.


This is Melanie's friend from college, Lisa.  She sat with us at conference.  Melanie ran into several friends from college (a college in Arizona).  Three of them she made plans to visit, or at least to cross paths with for a minute, but one she just ran into on the side walk in SLC, on our way to conference. Little Miss Popular!

We ran into the prophet and apostles. Well, from a distance anyway. 

None of us had ever been to the conference center before. I went to conference once with Lauri when she was in college, but we didn't actually get into the tabernacle, we attended in another building, so this was a first for all three of us. This was the 184th General Conference - I remember when I was Mel's age, I watched the 150th General Conference session. Time flies!


Although we don't know these women, they are pretty much celebrities - Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir is so exact when they stand - as they prepare to sing - when someone scratches their nose or something is so noticeable (of course no one scratches their nose during a song).  We attended a non-conference performance in Phoenix once. They snapped and swayed, it seemed so wrong. Their outfits and their height assignments along the rows are so precise. The lights caught the glitter of gold necklaces and they appeared to sparkle as they performed.



We didn't accidentally "run" into Rachel T, it was definitely a planned visit. what a great reunion for these to best friends, (along with a new best friend, Ryan). For many years, Rachel was at our house, or Melanie was at their house at any given moment of any given day.

One of the reasons Brady traveled with us is to attend a mission reunion. He had a great time meeting up with many people he served with in Iowa and Illinois. His Mission President is one of his favorite people.

We had a quick visit with Lesa W.  She lives down the street from a store were were going to be shopping at.  I called and asked her if she was home and could she come visit while Melanie tried on some clothes.  She did and we had a nice 15 minute visit.

Our last visit was quite early on the day we were driving home. We stopped by to see Michael. (he goes by Mike now, but he will always be Michael to me.)  We were going to take a picture with him, but we caught him in his pajamas, so I'm going to swipe this one from Lauri's facebook. It was taken the same weekend so that counts, right?

So that was a lot of visiting, right? AND we got most of the shopping done for Melanie's mission. Mission accomplished! (get it? "Mission" accomplished!).

Here are my travel partners.  I don't really like to drive long distances and they don't mind sharing the driving duties. Plus, they are a lot of fun!

What's with the crazy eye, Mel??

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

border crossings

On our vacation, Suzanne and I stayed right across the border in Canada, but many of our activities were in New York so we crossed the border back and forth several times during our trip.  We had our passports ready, but we found we weren't prepared for the verbal questioning about ourselves, our backgrounds, our plans and intentions. Suzanne and I are about the least suspicious people on earth, but somehow we felt suspicious or guilty each time we tried to enter another country. 
"Whose car is this?" It's a rental. 
"Where did you rent it?" Buffalo Airport.
 'Why is it registered in Ontario?" I don't know, it's a rental.  (see? we already seem guilty because Avis rented us a car of a suspicious foreign origin!)
"How long have you known each other?" ok, Suzanne and I have known each other since about 1983 so this should not be a hard question. We were friends in a young adult ward and have been best of friends since.  However, when asked to come up with that information on the spot, we both stumbled over the answer because I though we were taking about the car registration and why we were taking a foreign car over the border. Anyway, we finally gave a stupid answer along the lines of : "ummm, we met in Relief Society? back in the 80's?" (well, not quite that stupid, but we seemed to answer in a tone of voice like we were even questioning our own answer)
"Where are you going?"  well right at the moment, we were going to go find a convenience store, but generally for the day we were going to Rochester to visit the George Eastman House and Museum of Photography  and then to Palmyra to walk through the Sacred Grove. But that all sounded like a little much and really, was he the least bit interested in how we were going to entertain ourselves for the day? So how do you answer that? We are going to Rochester? We are going to a museum?  We are just driving around New York to see the sights? Suddenly a simple question becomes hard because he is looking at us like he doesn't believe us anyway. We felt like we needed to add  "but we will be back across the border before dark tonight. I promise we'll be back at our hotel before the street lights come on."
"What hotel are you staying in?"  My mind starts going blank. . . Super 8?, or Motel 6? I know it has a number in it, but I can't remember under pressure! 
Honestly, if they were looking for suspicious activity based on not being able to answer basic questions, we probably should have been hauled in and handcuffed.
I start wondering what/who they are looking for - terrorists? drug runners? what do they do with this information? verify it? are they going to call the restaurant we are heading to? to see if we are really going where we say we are going?
We realized at one approach to the crossing station, we had the song "American Woman" blasting on the radio. What are the odds?
"Who rented the car?" (Well, we both talked about it, I actually reserved it, we put Suzanne down as the primary driver, and I paid for it on my credit card. So that questions - under pressure - was a hard one to answer. . . who is actually listed on the paperwork if he wants proof? 
"How long are you staying?"  like overall? for our vacation? or how long are we staying until we cross back over the border in a few hours? See how these questions are so hard? 
"What do you have in your trunk?"  ummm . . . I think there is nothing in there, but maybe we left an extra pair of tennis shoes? and an umbrella in it?, but under this kind of pressure, I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA!! And I don't know if someone is going to actually check our answers for accuracy!
"Roll down your back window." After having just answered a question about the trunk and worrying if he was going to check to see if we really had the umbrella in the trunk that we said we had, we said, what? the very back window doesn't roll down.  He looked at us like we were pretty stupid - which we kind of were - and said "roll down your back seat window." Oh, well ok, we can do that. And yes, there is an umbrella there too. 
We struggled with the citizenship grilling so many times we decided we would be prepared toward the end of our stay. We anticipated any question they could ask, rehearsed simple answers, laughed about how ridiculous this all felt, got our passports out of our purses and ready, and stopped to cross the border.  The man we handed our passports to just laughed at us. He was the toll booth operator and he just wanted his $1.50. The border station booth was another 100 yards away. 
The last day, right before we were going to cross the border one last time and head to the airport, I wanted to walk out  to take a picture of the falls from the bridge. I had to cross a pedestrian border station to do so.  There was a coin operated turnstile to walk out onto the bridge.  It ate up my first 2 quarters and didn't let me through. I risked my last 2 coins on another turnstile and walked out.  Walking back I was hoping that I didn't need more coins because my pockets were empty and worrying if I had taken too long, because Suzanne was waiting for me at the car. So my thought process was somewhere else when I was then caught off guard my more guilt-ridden questions to get back off the bridge and into the fine country of Canada. "How much longer are you going to be here?" Oh my goodness, if you'd quit asking me all these questions, I'll be out of your country in about 10 minutes. I promise!
I realized that it had been 10 years since I had been to Niagara Falls on our infamous road trip with the Wagners (4 adults, 7 kids). We had been enjoying the American side of the falls, until we heard there were better views and more to do on the Canadian side. The adults had our drivers licences, but we had no IDs or passports for the kids. We asked if we could walk across the border, and if so, could we come back without identification for the kids. We received this answer: "I don't know." How could anyone who works at the border all day not know the answer to that question? We chose to risk our citizenship and walk across with our little group (rules have changed in the past 10 years, we would not be able to cross without passports now).
As it ended up, we were able to get back into the country after being grilled about how we knew each other, where we were from and where we were going. One of the teenage boys couldn't answer the question quickly "Who is your father?" He stumbled over that question because the question was asked so sternly, he wasn't sure if he should say that the man standing next to him was his father? or if he should further explain that he was adopted and that he had another birth father. His father, Joe, was standing there wondering and worrying if his teenage son would be detained in Canada while the rest of our families continued on our merry way. I can totally sympathize with Drew now. Those simple questions become hard to answer when you are at risk of being detained!

 2004 - the day we entered Canada with 7 kids and almost came back 
to the United States with 6 kids.

                        2014 - The water is still flowing 10 years later.  And we all successfully          crossed the border into our homeland!

Friday, September 26, 2014

emergency selfies

I recently read an article regarding selfies in an emergency situation.
"For many frightened air passengers, the best part about surviving a plane incident is living to tweet about it."
Suzanne and I ended a trip recently and walked into an emergency situation at the airport.  A gunman from an robbery in Tempe had ended a police chase by abandoning his car at the airport and tried to get lost in the crowd.  (Unfortunately, he was trying to get lost in a building that has an abundance of surveillance cameras. His picture was plastered all over the news stations - a red shirt and dreadlocks. One picture showed him having taken off his shirt, but a bare chested man with dreadlocks doesn't blend into the crowd either).
Anyway, so we ended our flight, got off the plane and found the pedestrian traffic stopped at the end of the hallway.  There was no communication (announcements, loudspeakers etc) and we were left to figure out what was going on. One salesman at a kiosk felt he had a captive audience to sell his credit card with bonus frequent flier miles. One woman who looked like she was dressed as an airport employee, but was actually a bank employee, also selling frequent flier miles, yelled out at the crowd: "You all have phones! Look it up yourself ! It's on the news. Quit asking me!"
So Suzanne and I found a comfortable bench to send out messages on facebook and chat with our friends about being on lock down at the airport. Some friends hadn't heard that anything was going on, Other friends had more information and were sending us links to the local new station to read what the current situation was. The situation could have been so much worse, we could have been locked down in the plane before we were released into the airport (which I think happened to some flights - that would have made me crazy and claustrophobic!) We were actually in a safe wing of the airport, so that obviously could have been worse. And even when we were shuttled out of the building, it wasn't a 110 degree day in August, so that could have been worse too.  
Suzanne and I entertained ourselves sending pictures on facebook and doing a crossword puzzle and reading.  When we were finally released, I was worried that the baggage claim area would be a mess with all the flights coming in for a couple hours. But we will never know if they were a mess, because we were directed downstairs, and then straight out of the building!  No information, no direction, just "get out".  People were saying we were getting bussed somewhere.  It really was weird to be escorted out of a building and then buses started coming to the curb and . . . I guess we were supposed to get on the bus??  Anyway, we took the airport bus to the Light Rail Station, bought a one-way ticket to Central Phoenix and asked Brady to come get us down at Camelback. Brady had tried to come to the airport to pick us up before we realized what was going on. He said he couldn't get near the terminal and the traffic was crazy and congested, so we sent him back home until things smoothed out. We drove back down to the airport later that evening to retrieve our luggage. I felt sorry for the baggage claims personnel. What a mess!
Apparently Suzanne and I are of the opinion that selfies and cameras are appropriate in an emergency. I suppose we weren't really in an emergency, just a "situation". But I think getting our cameras out to document life - good, bad, or otherwise - is something that is more and more prevalent. 
"So what do you think of plane emergency selfies: Do they make light of a serious situation? Or are they a cool way to celebrate survival — and to let loved ones know you’re okay."

overheard

Talking about Topher's server, how big is was, how much storage it had - "He could scan himself right into it and still have room left over . . .  He could Willy Wonka himself!"

We were talking about Dave's Steel Toed Boots, and then the conversation flowed toward Steel toed Flip Flops and Steel toed toe socks.

In a game, a questions was: How many miles around the equator of the earth? After we figured out the correct answer, Dave said:"With the miles on my truck, I've driven around the world about 6 times!"

Talking about a documentary on farming and how awful the poultry business is:
". . . Foster Farms and what are the other ones? Pepperidge Farm -- no, wait, that would be a documentary about goldfish crackers."

Talking about a documentary involving whales and dolphins in captivity.
Dave:"They're taken care of and fed, aren't they?"
Kyle: "Well, we could put you in the bath tub and  bring you a sandwich every day."

Melanie: Did you have fun in San Francisco?
Brady: 'Yeah'.
Melanie: Did you take any pictures?
Brady: 'Two'.
(apparently it was an amazing and life-changing trip)

I actually read this on a Craig's list advertisement: "Cooked chicken drum sticks and thighs. I bought two boxes for my family and we only ate one.  It comes with about 6 pieces."  (I don't think someone was selling it, just giving away some extra food, but still, . . . .  ewwww)

"I just drank a sip of eggnog and my stomach is churning."
 "Next time I'll just buy you egg nog jelly beans instead of egg nog milk"

We were taking about a train that goes clear across Canada - like a cruise ship, but a train.
"What do you do all day? On a ship, you can go to movies or go swimming, but what do you do on a train?"
"Throw Rocks"

Road sign - Strong Crosswinds Possible  "I read that sign: Strong Crossword Puzzles. . . . Puzzles? ok . . . Bring it on!"

"Do fishes fart?"

Mel --"Your car sounds like a carnival ride".

Mel --"It looks like an albatross pooped on my car".

Rachel -- "This was easier when we were five" (fort building)
This comment isn't necessarily funny. The humor is that they were building a fort, from which they were planning to watch a movie.

the crowded house

I was going through my list of blog entries and found a post that I apparently never hit the "Publish" button.  It is from 2 years ago, but full of fun memories, so I'm going to share it 2 years late. 
 
 I'm posting more pictures from our reunion. It's a little much, I know. but if not a post about a reunion, the only thing left to post about is sales tax forms and collection calls. That's about all that's going on in my life this week.
We went on a road trip with these crazies. Our four kids, of course, and their cousin Ben. Plus Dave and I. And we picked up Dave's brother Eric on the way too.
Ben lives in Florida, flew to Phoenix and took a roadtrip with us. I couldn't imaging flying west across the country, then driving north across the country. Too much traveling for me. I am becoming kind of a baby about long trips. I'm probably going to be an old lady that doesn't like the long drive to Mesa. I'm glad it wasn't too much travel for him, because we really enjoyed spending time with him. I wish his wife and kids could have come too.
The reason for this trip was the upcoming 90th birthday of Dave's dad. (Thank Chelsea for the cool cake)
There were a lot of people coming to celebrate with him. I saw this book in the living room, the title seemed kind of appropriate. As you can see, the house got a bit crowded and spilled out into the back yard.
There were a couple people I didn't get a clear view of their face, because there was a camera in use most of the time.

As reunions go, there is time for 3 brothers who live in 3 different states to spend some time together.


There were some games going on - I'm not sure what the rules were, but the point would be use great force to see how high you could send the kickball into the atmophere while on the swingset. The other rule would be to make sure the ball was sent "skyward" and not toward the women relaxing in the lawn chairs nearby.

We spent one morning (about 12 of us) at an indoor gun range in town. Can I say that was a lot of fun? I've never done that before. You can see from the picture below how well I am doing.
                                       
(Just kidding Tamera. You were awesome!)

We had a picnic breakfast at Justice Park where the boys would often go when they were growing up.


Of course there was some raspberry picking in Grandpa's garden!

There was some barbequeing in the back yard as well.

I don't think the swings ever stopped.

There were a bazillion pictures taken of this beautiful sweet little thing (Aleah). And all but one were happy. So I'm going to post it .
Delos and 3 of the 5 boys.
We are planning another get together in 4 years. That's probably logical to have big get-togethers spaced out over time because this family lives from the east coast to the west coast, but it is hard to go that long without seeing each other.  Good thing for blogs and facebook!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

this week

We had some crazy flooding in Phoenix recently. Some referred to it at the 'Hundred Year Flood'. That is a good name, and sounds dramatic to have that kind of flooding every 100 years, however, we had similar flooding in the first few years I moved to Phoenix, perhaps 35 years ago. So maybe it was the "Great 35 Year Flood".  The TV was all weather related news for 24 hours straight.  A year ago, Atlanta got an inch or two of snow and it shut the city down.  The whole country laughed a bit at that (not understanding the whole situation, of course), but I think the whole country was laughing at Phoenix for shutting down with 2 inches of rain.

The rain and flooding started about 2 or 3 am, so it was pretty severe as we started our day. Melanie left for school, got about 3 or 4 miles and received a text that school was cancelled, the campus was shut down so she turned around.  Those few miles took her 1 1/2 hours to circle around and get home. Kyle was driving in the same part of town and ended up at work 2 hours late.  Rachel zipped to work like every other day, and Roxanne won the prize - she got on the freeway for her regular 25 minute drive and got there in 8 minutes.  The freeway was empty (flooded sections closed behind her route). Brady was out of town and was surprised to hear the reports from northern California. He also was missing an important test at school so was relieved to hear that the campus had shut down and his vacation wouldn't adversely affect his grade.

On another note, Melanie needed a picture to send to her Mission President.  We couldn't find a reasonable picture anywhere in our files for the last year or two (they just needed a nice head shot, nothing fancy). It is very difficult for this girl to smile into the camera.  Not only were our files full of silly pictures, but when we went out into the yard to take a specific picture for her Mission President, the photo shoot started out like this:


I'm not sure her Mission President knows what he's getting with this girl!

letter to the tooth fairy

I was looking for some artwork in the kids' memory boxes, so I sat down and enjoyed a trip down memory lane looking through the kids saved projects, pictures and stories.
I found a few funny notes. Some I'm not sure what was going on in our family one year. Perhaps we were particularly poor??  And there seems to be an unsympathetic tooth fairy.

Dear tooth fairy,
can you give me 3 dollars because what I need is for lunchs at school.
love Roxanne
write back to me

Dear Roxanne,
Here is some money for one lunch.  Maybe you could save some money or do some more chores for more money.  This is a very nice tooth.  It looks like a front tooth.  Smile a Lot!  love the Tooth Fairy

Dear Santa clause,
for christmas what I really really, really want is on my list with a star by it.  But I have not had a Jeep for 3 or 4 years. Pease can you get me one? If I don't get one I'll probably be very upset. I don't want to be grumpy on Christmas.
write back
love, Roxanne
write back
p.s. Please can you get me a jeep?

Dear Hale Children-
Hey Where's the cookies? And the milk? Well, I helped myself to some cocoa- hope you don't mind (I had to even go through your cupboards to find a cup).
Enjoy your toys. Your house looks different this year, you weren't sleeping in the same rooms (I think I almost woke up your Grandma)
Have a Merry Christmas
and a fun New Year!
Santa
P.S. Roxanne-- It's not a "Barbie Jeep" but I hope you have fun with it (and I hope you let your little sister ride it sometimes)
(Don't be grumpy on Christmas)

Dear parents,
it was so late I couldn't vacume well I could but I was too tired. So I stayed up ti about 11:15 doing my room but tomorrow I will vacume as well as I can and make sure it stays like that the whole day. I want to make you proud.
love, Roxanne
I love you
(age 9) (I guess I was a slave driver - making my 4th grade daughter stay up through the middle of the night to clean her room!)

I have a letter from Roxanne's Grandpa Hale.  It is in response to a letter Roxanne had written. Roxanne was age 5 1/2 and apparently had written about the pinewood derby, sleeping on the top bunk, and playing in a tree house.  His letter is adorable. He has not been able to communicate (think and write) well for some years so it's fun to remember his 'old' self. He was surprised that she wasn't scared to sleep on a top bunk, he suggested a movie she might like etc. However, he has always had a side of his communication that is distinctly his, for instance, besides responding to the info in her letter, he also included this information to a 5 year old:
It is time to do a lot of work in the raspberries.  Raspberries grow new canes to have fruit on every year and I must take out the old canes and the smaller weak plants so we will get a good crop.   A couple of weeks ago we had a few warm days and I set out a double row of strawberries.  I humped the dirt up so it was for or five inches high and about two feet wide.  Then I covered that with black plastic and put dirt on it along the edges so the wind wouldn't bow it away. Then I cut an "X" in it about four inches on each cut and set in a small strawberry plant and watered them. We saw this method used when we were in Australia dn I decided to try it.
Then the snow was on the ground last week I spread nitrogen on the lawn area.  As the snow melts it will dissolve the nitrogen and make the grass grow fast and green and thick so we will have a special lawn for you to pay on when you come this summer.
(It cracks me up that he told her the measurements in the garden and explained nitrogen for the lawn. He went on to tell her about optimal temperatures in the greenhouse to start his tomatoes , etc)

Anyway, it was fun to read letters and look at school papers and artwork and remember years gone by. I miss being a mother of small kids. Of course I look back and wish I had done some things differently, more effectively, more energetically, etc. But overall, they were fun years for me. I hope the kids will remember their childhood as fun years too.