After leaving San Diego we drove into Arizona on December 12th. Our camper needed some repairs so we left it with a dealer in Phoenix and then drove south, into Mexico. We had gotten a fabulous deal on a condo near Puerto Penasco right on the Gulf of California. While at the resort we enjoyed the many different activities available, but our favorite part was all of the space!! A small, two-bedroom condo might not sound like much room for 8 people….but when those eight people usually live in a 38 foot camping trailer it seems enormous!!! We loved having two bathrooms, a comfy couch and the beach view….and having a shower big enough to turn around in didn’t hurt either! We stuck close to home that week other than one day when we ventured into town to have lunch and check out the street market. The kids had fun bartering for a better price and they each ended up with their own special souvenior.
Lance and Ben checking out the pool
The view from our balcony
The kids had a blast on the bungee trampoline….here’s Ben doing some pretty sweet jumps!
Joe and Sam really enjoyed meeting other kids who loved playing soccer just like they do!
Ben loved playing on the beach
Lunch at The Friendly Dolphin while exploring the town of Puerto Penasco for the day.
Abby trying out one of the ukuleles
Some of the pretty shells we found on the beach
The beautiful sunset on the last evening we were there
While in Mexico we got to celebrate Abby’s 12th birthday on December 15 and Joe’s 14th birthday on December 19. It was a special place to have a birthday and we had fun at both of our mini celebrations.
Abby’s birthday dinner
On Sunday, December 20th we drove the few hours back to Phoenix. We picked up our camper and started our week at a campground in Tucson. We were excited to be there and also to be staying put for a while so it was time to decorate for Christmas. Because of limited space we had not brought many of the Christmas decorations that we would normally use with us, but we did bring our stockings which we hung on the towel hooks on the back of the bathroom door. We also had a couple of random things like Christmas dish towels and window clings. Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf in Zeeland, couldn’t make the trip, but thankfully he sent Missy (his elf cousin) in his place! We also went hunting for the perfect *tiny* Christmas tree. We ended up with a live tree that we decorated with lots of cute handmade ornaments the kids had made, a couple of strings of popcorn and some lights. It was a pretty cute little tree and, even though it made our camper even more crowded, we were excited to have it around.
Having fun while picking out our Christmas tree
Here is the cute little tree we ended up choosing. Since it was a live tree it got to stay with the cousins…Dave and Liz, and hopefully they will enjoy it for years to come!
Rosemary and Joe while she shows off her new little stocking ornament from Grandpa and Grandma Haveman. Now we know….Rosemary is one of those names that you can’t find personalized ornaments for….so this one has it written in 🙂
On December 22nd we celebrated Rosemary’s 1st birthday. We went to Red Robin for dinner and then came home for cupcakes and present time. Her first taste of cake was a success and after a few exploratory finger jabs it wasn’t long before the frosting was gone….in her tummy and all over her face. What a quiet party compared to the birthday bashes we have had for the other five, but it was very nice.
Our sweet ONE year old!
She really enjoyed her first taste of red velvet cake!
While in Tucson, we were able to get Rosemary’s 1 year pictures taken. I love having that milestone captured forever.
While in Tucson, we were so glad that we got to visit with my cousin Essie, her husband, Hsin-Fu and their two boys. It was great to see their new house and meet their youngest little guy, they had never met Rosemary before that either. We were even able to go out on a double date with Hsin-Fu and Essie a few nights later which was a great time to catch up without the distraction of kiddos running around.
Abby selfie with Hsin-Fu, Essie, their boys and most of our family!
Date night with Hsin-Fu and Essie at the historic Arizona Inn in Tucson
Our Christmas celebration was a special one. Usually our holiday is full of many different family gatherings, and while it’s lots of fun, it’s also very busy. This year we were very intentional about what we included and what we didn’t and we had a really great Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus as a family.
Christmas Eve memories
This little guy is super excited about opening his stocking on Christmas day!
The Saturday after Christmas Lance and the kids went to the Tucson Desert Museum. They had a great day learning about the desert landscape and animals and especially liked watching the falcons show off their awesome flight and diving skills. http://www.desertmuseum.org
One of the falcons at the Desert Museum
Crazy kids with a saguaro cactus
The pretty desert landscape
One thing we really enjoyed about our campground in Tucson were the fruit trees all around. There were orange, lemon and grapefruit trees and we were told we could pick as much as we wanted to. When we first arrived it took the kids less than 5 minutes to start picking bowls of lemons and planning their lemonade stand. They were very busy the first couple of days picking, squeezing and mixing to make the lemonade. They made $7 total, but I think it was more about the process than the cash!
Sam managing the lemonade stand
We had some craft time to make Christmas ornaments. One of their new friends from the campground joined in.
On December 27th we left Tucson and went to Phoenix for a few days. I have another cousin who lives there and we had a fantastic time visiting them. Dave, Liz and their two girls (with another joining the family soon!) were very welcoming and we loved hanging out with them. Abby got to try babysitting for the first time (for someone else’s kids) which she really liked. We also had a fun New Year’s Eve party there with good food, games, fireworks and lots of laughter. We were able to park our camper right outside their house for that night so it was super convenient to just walk outside to our house and go to bed after we watched the ball drop.
Olive Garden for dinner with Dave, Liz and their girls
Abby frosting the cupcakes she had made the night before
Ben, Liz, Karen and River decorating cupcakes
New Year’s Eve bonfire and fireworks
The next day (January 1st) we said good bye to Dave and Liz and headed west a couple of hours to Brenda, Arizona. My Uncle Dave and Aunt Maud live in Phoenix, but have a trailer there to escape to when they want to be in the middle of the desert. We camped there for a few nights and had a great time with them. Uncle Dave and Lance took turns taking the four older kids out for trail rides with his ATVs which they loved. While they were doing that Aunt Maud and I went for a walk on the trails in the desert with Ben, Rose and Elise. One of the days we were with them we went to a Rock and Gem show in Quartzite. If you know our Sam at all, you probably know that he is very interested in rocks….finding them, cleaning them, identifying them, breaking them open, displaying them and sometimes selling them. It was fun to watch Sam at the Rock show, he was totally in his element and could have spent hours more just wandering through the vendors and admiring the cool rocks. He used some of his Christmas money to buy a few that really caught his attention and is looking forward to displaying them in his room when we get home.
Uncle Dave and Abby all ready for some off-roading
Joe out on the trail
Elise and Ben exploring the desert on our walk
Checking out the merchandise at the Rock Show in Quartzite
Driving a hard bargain…..
Sam pretty happy with his purchase!
Aunt Maud and Rosemary
We left on Tuesday after having a very nice time with my aunt and uncle. The kids really enjoyed hanging out with them….playing games, doing puzzles or talking rocks (a passion that Sam and Uncle Dave share!) and Lance and I had fun visiting with them in the evenings after the kids were in bed. Thank you Uncle Dave and Aunt Maud for your hospitality!
Uncle Dave, Aunt Maud and our family right before we left for Tombstone
From Brenda we headed southeast to Tombstone, Arizona. We only stayed there one night, but packed a lot in. Our campground was only two blocks away from the historic downtown street so we went for a walk in the evening to check things out. We ended up exploring the Bird Cage Theatre which is now a museum in the old saloon. There are legends that say it’s haunted, but we never spotted any ghosts! It was pretty interesting though, to see the many antiques from Tombstone including the horse-drawn hearse used during the time of Wyatt Earp, guns, portraits of the many famous town residents and we even saw a mummified merman (although I’m not really sure what that has to do with an old western town!!)
Inside the Bird Cage Theatre
A posted notice to the “shady ladies”
The stagecoach on the street of Tombstone
The next day we walked back into town and did something that was on my list to do sometime during this trip…..have an old-time picture taken of our family. We all had a lot of fun with the outfits, it was like playing dress-up. Ben loved the hat he got to wear…..but not as much as he and Sam loved holding guns in the pictures! Ben liked it so much that afterwards we could hardly get him to give them back so he ended up buying a toy gun with some of his Christmas money!
Our “Wild West” family 🙂
Well, I know I’m pretty behind in my entries, but this will help to catch us up a little bit….the next state we tackled was New Mexico and I’ll get to that next time!