After enjoying the weather at hole in the rock on Friday afternoon, we braved the afternoon traffic and headed South towards the newly purchased home of our friends the Ramos family. They had only moved in about a week earlier. The drive was surprisingly long, although to be fair, construction, traffic, and an accidental detour through the largest airport on earth didn’t help. Once we got off the highway we still had about a half hour to drive, through beautiful desert and a pass through the hills. We weren’t sure what we would find in their town but it was great to pull up to their home and see Valerie and Ella’s smiling faces.
We hopped out of the car, exchanged hugs, and were directly off to play at the neighborhood park. The girls loved going down the slide; Ella is very adventurous with her arms-first approach. She then asked for the “weee.” Which is of course the name for the swing. Anna tried out her first big-girl swing and as a result fell off her first big-girl swing. It was so wonderful to see them together. They would wander around the equipment trying to find one another. They would walk together holding hands.
During our little grassy photoshoot Ella decided to sit down. Anna was confused why they should stop holding hands so she tried to pull her back up. I think I relived a bit of our first times with Valerie and Daniel and how easy it was to be their friends as I watched Anna and Ella gravitate towards each other. Which makes sense because Ella and Valerie are both so happy, kind, sweet as sugar, and the best kind of friends to have.
After a tour of their lovely new home, Valerie and I ran out to do the grocery shopping. I was so grateful to be able to give my input about foods and help out my friend who was amazingly hosting us with a broken arm, she is incredible. Jacob watched the girls while we were busy shopping and then making dinner.
Everyone was so glad when Daniel came home from work. Dinner was so yummy and then the men gave our girls a bath. They had a giggly great time together and when it was over Ella was happy to get out but started crying tears of sympathy when Anna was sad that bath time was finished. We got her mind off of the torture of leaving water by making our bed together, which led to playing on the bed with her friend. I think about 15 minutes of fun ensued. Ella was jumping all over the place, and Anna was rolling all over the place. We were tickling, giggling, and having way too much fun. We even got out a blanket to play parachute with them. With four adults around the bed we somehow kept our two girls on it. It seems girls don’t have to be taught how to have fun at sleepovers, it just comes natural.
Ella has always been blessed with a head of hair. She was literally born with more hair than Anna has acquired in her 2 years. So Valerie had some pointers for taking care of my toddler’s locks and we got out the spray bottle, comb, and rubberbands to try out some pigtails on my cutie. I figure if Daniel can make Ella look so cute, maybe I can work some of that magic too. Ella even tried to give me some pointers, she combed Anna’s hair for me. The girls had a blast with the spray bottle. Apparently water in the face is just as refreshing as the wind but more hilarious.
Saturday morning we drove out to the local arboretum. The place was really neat. Anna and Ella got free rides on our hike in our baby backpacks and we checked out the local flora with their name tags. We also had our local tour guide, Daniel, to help us learn about cacti, their proper pronunciations, and how to prepare them for eating. For instance, we were really amused when Daniel told us that his dad grows prickly pear cacti in his backyard and cooks it up just like a steak.
The canyon we hiked through was beautiful and we loved catching up with our friends about their awesome trip to New Zealand and reminiscing about Connecticut a little bit. The girls had fun at the craft stations. They colored rainsticks and strung beads.
The girls loved running around the children’s garden. I guess I’m not the only one unsure about spiny plants because this area was free of them. They had a lovely sundial, where you get to be the gnomon. There was a fountain, not exactly made for splashing but the weather was nice so the girls did their thing. There was even a maze to run through. It was a nice place for them to take a break from riding along and get to do some exploring of their own.
We finished up the trip out with a picnic lunch including sandwiches, chips and salsa, fruit, and a variety of desserts. The girls also tried a few pouches but stuck mostly to the fruit before running off and playing. They picked up sticks, hugged, chased interesting animals like dogs and squirrels, and Anna tried her hand at escape. Jacob bolted across the picnic area when our daughter who had been innocently wandering saw her opportunity and went for it, disappearing up a side trail. Sneaky is a word she knows now for a reason, oh she can be so sneaky!
We could not keep our girls awake on the ride home, we had had so much fun and food and were all tuckered out. The girls napped ALL afternoon. We had two more activities planned before dinner but the girls slept right up until almost sunset. I think Anna slept for almost four hours, not including the car ride. They sure wore each other out.
We did squeeze in one more attraction before dinner time, visiting Ella’s grandparents who have three baby calves and prickly pear cacti growing along their property line. We fed the cows and the baby calves chased each other around for us. One was named Michelle Obama and another named Rambo II. I could only ever come up with “Brownie” as animal names go so I was impressed. After dark, the girls jammed to some music inside with sets of maracas. They were so cute.
The girls didn’t melt down too much for dinner considering how long we had postponed it. Anna definitely had a lot of Mexican food this trip and man can she put away some beans and rice! But Ella was the one who enjoyed the guacamole, I guess Anna did inherit some of my tastebuds.
In the evening, Daniel’s sister joined us for our campfire with s’mores. We read more books and were surprised to find the girls ready for bed before midnight after that huge nap. We loved chatting about the landscaping and the interior design decisions yet to be made. They tried to talk us into a few of the nearby houses for sale, including one that shares a fence-line. It would be pretty cool to cut a hole to fit a pint-sized door in it for our girls.
Daniel and Valerie were amazing hosts for us, and Ella for Anna. Anna was really grateful for a playroom and normal toys for a change. Life in hotels can be a challenge, so our respite with a laundry machine and bins full of toys was a blessing to all of us. We left in the middle of church on Sunday. We wanted Anna to have some nursery time since she loves it so much but we also had a full day’s drive ahead of us. So we slowly said our goodbyes and gave our hugs and were back on the road.