Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nice and Breezy in St. Geezy

I have been incredibly blessed to have amazing friends in my life.  College was no exception.  I had an amazing group of girls that are still called my roommates despite the fact that we all are married and therefore have eternal companions as roommates.  We all have kids similar in age so it's fun to keep in contact as we enjoy our crazy mommy adventures.  By some miracle, (and a lot of work) the stars aligned and we were able to find a house that we could stay in St George, Utah.  Whitney, Alisia, and I were able to meet up there and enjoy a few days of friend catch up and child rearing fun.  We missed our roomie on the East Coast as well as Treesh.  Her amazing, miracle boy had some pretty important appointments that we are glad he was able to go to.  Hopefully, we'll get another trip with all of us there.
Anyway, Laila and I drove the 8 hrs that it takes from Phoenix alone.  We put on our big girl pants and survived to tell the tell.  Laila was awesome on the road.  We enjoyed our Disney Pandora station as well as our "Princess Show" (Frozen.)

When we arrived in St George, Laila and I enjoyed a walking break at the B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L St. George Temple.  I'm pretty sure there are few things that invoke such a calming, welcoming feeling as seeing this majestic, white building against the red rock as you come into the city.

Soon after, we met up for an exciting meal at the Pizza Factory.  We realized quickly how much fun we were going to have as 3 moms with 5 kids!

^ She loved the twisty breadsticks. This mother was so proud!

The next morning we got all 8 of us packed into Alisia's sequoia (I wish I had a picture of 5 carseats and me in back!) and we enjoyed the nice walking paths in Snow Canyon.  I'm telling you, every time I'm enjoying the red rocks, they make me fall more and more in love with their beauty!  Throw some friends and our cute kids in the mix, and you get a great day!

The great part of having the house was that we could head back for nap time. Us moms got to enjoy some talking. We would make dinner and just hang out around the house. (Yet somehow, we still stayed up super late still talking! ha!)

The next morning, we packed all up again and went to the temple grounds.  I love seeing how excited our kids are to be on such holy grounds. We tried taking as many pictures as possible, but our kids (mine in particular)  had their limit...

^She also is an AZ baby through and through. The wind was blowing so she was cold!

Afterwards, we took our stroller brigade to a park nearby and let our babes enjoy the beautiful day.  

 ^Truly in her happy place

We made an awesome stroller train!  By the end, moms and kids were ready for naps again and another fun, slow evening at the house.  I wish I had taken more pictures. Especially of our delicious trips to SWIG and more of the wonderful home we stayed in thanks to some friends of the Horito family.  However, I was just too busy having fun and enjoying my girl being friends with my friends' kids.  I can't believe how quickly our lives went from this:

To this:

The next morning, we head out again for our drive home.  Laila did a great job again, but let's just say we both needed a break in Wickenburg to stretch our legs a bit.  On a side note, our drive home also got a bit more spicy when a bird totally did a kamikaze dive in front of my car.  I briefly closed my eyes so I didn't see impact, but I did see the rest of the bird ricochet over my car. Gruesome? You bet.  The rest of the drive, I would randomly see feathers floating up over the car.  As my dad would say, it doesn't have the guts to do that again... eck....

It was a short, but sweet trip. I am so glad everything worked out and I have friends who were willing to meet us half way for some fun! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Shields in Chi Town 2014

If you didn't know, we REALLY love visiting Chicago. Proof HERE , HERE, and HERE. It's such an awesome city and we love any excuse to see the Walkers so that's always the cherry on top for us.  This time was no exception.  Michael had meetings so he was there most of the week.  Adelaide and I joined him on Thursday.  It was our first time having to pay for her plane ticket.  That hurt but I think she loved the space.

He picked us up from the airport and hustled us off to the ballpark.  Baseball, hot dogs, great seats, Chicago skyline, and my family- excellent combination!  Phoenix is climbing into the 90s so it was nice to be chilled again!

The next day, we joined forces with the Walkers and headed to a friend of theirs' home outside of the city.  She was kind enough to watch all three of our kids so that the four of us could go to the Chicago Temple together.  It was so wonderful to be able to be in such a sacred place with family members.

^This pic was taken later, but we had to get a group shot.

That night, Christi and I stayed up WAY too late and snuck out to see "Divergent." She introduced me to the series so we thought it was only fitting that we see the film together in the actual city the story takes place.  That part was cool.  The movie we both have our own individual resentments but we are glad we went. (In our jammies)

Saturday morning we went to the top of the Willis Tower (aka Sears tower) and enjoyed the remarkable view and juggling a couple cranky kids. Then we hustled out to the ballpark to enjoy the AMAZING weather by watching a baseball game together.  Laila got a little nap (in my arms) but, boy howdy, it was not long enough.  She woke up with a tantrum that had a force like I've never seen from her before.  It was like she has stored up her crankiness from her whole life and let it out that day.  It nearly broke my heart.  When she calmed down, the rest of the day was great.  Luckily, that experience didn't ruin the whole game.  (The crazy drunk people beating up on each other right in front of us after the game didn't ruin it either.)

^Channeling her inner Dauntless

That night, we saved the best for last and enjoyed every bite of our Giordano's.  YUM! Then the Walkers had to head back home.  I hate good byes.

The next morning, we head out for some more fun adventures around the city.  We always enjoy seeing "The Bean."  Laila LOVED chasing the birds around.  It was pretty hilarious.  Then we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Laila fell asleep in her stroller in time for us to walk around the city and see a few shops.

We then took the train to the airport so we could hop on the shuttle to our hotel.  Our flight was at 5 AM the next morning so we made sure to get a hotel close to the airport and tried to get some sleep for our extremely LONG Monday!

^This girl loves her train rides!

As luck would have it, a huge snow storm hit Chicago as soon as we left.  We are glad we had beautiful weather and another incredibly fun experience in an amazing city!

Friday, April 18, 2014

All Aboard the Ban(nister)- Wagon

Well, I have to say it is really fun to see our projects literally start creeping upstairs. I've tried finding every before picture I could of our hall and bannister. You've already seen our steep stairs carpeted update HERE.  Since the carpet update, we added some stuff to the walls including a gallery wall.  We have also painted and stained the railing and bannister (Hence, the title. I realize it's a stretch of a title but go with it.)
The top of the stairs started like this:

The master bedroom is on the left.  Laila's room is off to the right followed by the linen closet, the bathroom and the other two bedrooms.  It's not a very deep space at the top of the stairs and I had the random switch to our fan down stairs and our fancy schmancy Honeywell thermostat (Shout out to husband's place of employment and a fine piece of technology) placed in the middle of the wall.  Because of their placement, I knew I couldn't hang most traditional frames without it looking off balance so I thought a gallery wall could help hide the awkward placed but well used switches.  I also thought it would be a great way to use some frames that I already had lying around.  Let it be known: Pinterest makes gallery walls look easy.  They are not.  Ours went through a few versions.

 ^He's the best.

We finally ended up with this: (For now)

The pictures of the pictures aren't the best quality but we have an S frame that I made from a wood cut out from Michaels and I used an old placemat we had for the background. ha.  The Bountiful temple is where we were married. The top plaque says "Happily Ever After." We have a big family picture and our darling newborn Laila. All the other pictures are beautiful places we've been including: Costa Rica, Provo, Bryce Canyon, Hawaii, Florida, San Fran and Arizona.  The switch and the thermostat are still there, but this arrangement works for us right now.  
I like the progress of the wall collage pictures because you start seeing the bannister transformation.  We started with the railing a few months ago.  Luckily we finished that part, because whenever I wanted to quit, I could look at it and chug on. 
 ^You can see the original honey oak wood topper on the ground.

The base is metal so Michael sanded it a little. (I can't handle that job.)  Then we painted it with one layer of primer, and two coats of oil rubbed bronze paint. Thank heavens for nap time. I would paint one section at a time.  Each spindle. Three coats.  I might have whined a few times. But I got it done. It's not perfect, I have a few places I need to fill in and touch up but I'm happy with the result.  Here it is without the wood:

I might have threatened Michael in a not-nice tone that the wood topper needed to get finished the weekend I finished painting because I couldn't handle waiting another couple of months.  I just wanted it to be done! He lovingly obliged me and worked while listening to conference.  He stripped away the old finish. Then he stained it with multiple layers and we let it dry.  He put some finishing touches and then we took the wood in to finish the project.

It looks great.  But I have to admit the top wood is a bit darker than the stain of the railing going upstairs. You can't easily tell a difference, but it's there.  I almost started crying.  The top just has one layer too much and we wanted it to look like the railing.  My sweet husband calmed me down and said he's ok with fixing the top part (even though it means more hours of work for him.)  For now, it still looks great and is quite the change.



So...what do you think? Do you want to hop on our bannister wagon with us and celebrate another project finished?