Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hazard Family Reunion, 2010

Every year for my whole life, the entire side of my Hazard family (my Grandma and Grandpa Hazard and all their kids and grand kids, and now great grand kids) have gotten together for a reunion. These last on average anywhere from 7-20 days, and are full of very fun, exciting, and sometimes life-threatening activities.

Matt joined these epic reunions for the first time while we were still engaged. That reunion was spent in California, sleeping in tents between a polluted "beach" made entirely of head-sized rocks, and a busy highway. The best part, though, was the hobos and random hitchhikers. It turned out they were quite friendly once you fed them...although a bike did go missing. All in all, that reunion was totally AWESOME! Sadly, after we were married Matt and I were unable to make it out to the next couple of reunions due to distance/money issues/Matt's fear of what could top the last one (no, it was really just the distance and money...although Matt was in awe of our definition of "fun" for quite sometime).

But not this year!

This year the reunion was in beautiful Colorado (where Matt and I have seriously decided to retire) at my Uncle Bart and Aunt Natalie's ranch. We made a little road trip out of getting up there, stopping first in Oklahoma to see my brother Griffin, and his cute wife Ashland, and their adorable little girl, Zoey Jane Hazard. They blessed her while we were there, and it was so fun to get to be a part of that.

This is Zoey. She sleeps like this all the time. She is too cute. We were there just Friday night to Sunday afternoon, but we made good use of the time. My mom and dad and Allison and Courtney were already there to see Zoey, too, so we played tennis, went boating, ate at Ashland's parents' home, talked and laughed, and of course held Zoey lots and lots.

Let the record show that me and Griffin wasted Courtney and my Dad in a game of doubles tennis...thanks to Griffin. I am soooo rusty. Also, let the record show that Bennett is an excellent tennis racket carrier.

Why are these small? This is while we were boating in what has to be the World's best lake. It was seriously the temperature of perfect bathwater. I loved it. Bennett loved it. Matt loved it. We are getting a boat...once we get money...

Tubing with me, Matt, and Bennett on one tube, and my mom and Courtney on the other. I think we were going (maybe) 5 mph and Bennett was literally almost asleep. My mom thought it was very exciting however. :)

I realize this picture is a little creepy, but at least it is normal sized and it is the only one of me and Zoey in her little blessing outfit. Sunday after the blessing (which Bennett decided to cry all the way through so I didn't get to hear much of) we took about a million pictures, but I don't have any right now. They were very cute and professional though, because Allison The Photography Major brought her super nice camera and has a great eye for artistic shots.

Bennett got in on the cute photography skills of Allison also this day. She took a whole bunch of him in his church clothes hanging out in the bathroom (because the lighting was so good) doing things like brushing his teeth and standing next to the toilet. Sounds weird, I know, but I have framed a bunch of these and hung them in one of our bathrooms and it actually turned out really cute. Thanks, Allison!

And this is us just playing.

Sunday night after dinner we packed the car back up and began the next leg of our journey--a 12-hour drive to Colorado. Courtney rode in the car with us, and Allison and my mom and dad were in their mini-van. The original plan was to caravan as far as Dodge, Colorado, but we got separated about five minutes from Griffin and Ashland's house and ended up going our separate directions until midnight. Funny how things work out...or don't...

This may not be exciting to anyone else, but Matt and I anxiously awaited the arrival of the moment when our car would be at mile 6666.6--We were not disappointed. It was great.

The next day we started our trip again and had fun listening to music, watching movies, eating good food, taking naps, talking, and playing trivia games. Matt even got on his motorcycle (which we towed behind us the entire way) and drove ahead of us through the beautiful mountain passes of Colorado. He got drenched in a pretty bad rain storm at one point, but said he loved it anyway. I'm happy for him. Sounds miserable to me.

We finally arrived at my Aunt and Uncles' around 7:00pm and were greeted by a hoard of wonderful people I have not seen in too long.

Natalie and Bart are in the process of building their fabulous dream home right now, so they are living in a littler house on their property at the moment. They also have this gorgeous barn, and a bunch of corrals and pastures. It is beautiful. This barn normally houses about seven horses, but while we were there it was transformed into a basketball court/dance hall/dorm room, since only people with small children (thank you very much) were allowed to sleep in the little house, and everybody else either camped in tents or slept here. As nice as the house was, I have to admit I was a little jealous.

The rest of the week was spent on four wheelers and horses, hiking, visiting Black Canyon National Park, talking around the bonfire, rounding up cattle, swimming, and playing basketball (again, let the record show that I, Haley Dawn Hargrave, took on and took down almost every cousin I have...including the over-confidant teenage ones...in several intense games of Lightening. It will never happen again, so I have to brag while I can).

Bennett and Grandma (or Granny, or Nana, or whatever she will be called) at the bonfire.

Bennett and Grandpa (or Gramps, or Papa, or whatever he will be called) taking a walk.

One day almost everybody decided to hike up this huge mountain, which the name of I cannot remember except that it did not fit the mountain at all. It was named something like "Mount Sniffles," but would be much better off with a name like, "Mount Fall-To-Your-Death." Matt (with the previously broken shins) and I (the mother of a small child) and a few others (the smart ones) volunteered to stay home and prepare lunches for everybody once they came off the hike.

So while everybody else was hiking incredibly steep, though scenic, Mount Fall-To-Your-Death, Matt and I stayed home and played with our little boy and enjoyed a day together.

Bennett being introduced to the horses (or puppies, as he calls them. Anything with four legs is a puppy to Bennett).

Matt and Bennett on Bear (I think. There were a lot of horses and they all looked the same to me). Bennett liked the horses, which is good because he has been practicing hard at riding them lately...

This was taken a few weeks earlier. Yes, he's naked...and SO happy about it.

I would also like to announce that it was on this day I rode on a horse while it ran...on purpose!! I have ridden horses while they ran before, but it was always because they were running away with me and I would have to either jump or fall to save myself. I am terrified of horses. Matt is a great horse-riding teacher though, and he took me out while Bennett was napping and very patiently taught me how to be on a horse without fear of life and limb. Imagine my surprise when I learned that horses are not horrible creatures with the desire to kill you at the first chance they get. It was really fun/still a little scary, but I did it and I was sore for three days afterward. I am so proud of myself.

Later that afternoon, we got in our car and drove to where the trail head for the hike begins. Actually, I should say we attempted to drive to where the trail head begins. We never made it, because the road leading up to it was carved by mountain men a century ago who apparently had no value for life. The road twisted through insanely treacherous cliff-like territory, plus, it started to rain and there was mud and much sliding involved. It was all very adventurous.

In truth, it really wasn't that scary, we just had to go super slow and be careful not to plummet thousands of feet off the side of the mountain. It was actually really a pretty drive, just an intense one.

A great majority of Bennett's time on this trip was divided between the four wheeler and the three wheelers. There were several of them, and if I ever wanted to know where Bennett was I just had to look outside long enough to see him whizzing over the bumpy ground at break-neck speeds, laughing with delight. Grandpa was Bennett's favorite riding partner, although he would go with anybody who offered and singlehandedly ran two of the four wheelers out of gas from constant use.

The day after the hike, Bart said he had a Longhorn (imported from Texas, where they used to live) that was up in a pasture and needed to be moved down to their ranch. Matt, of course, volunteered to help, along with almost every other male in our family. We are all cowboys at heart.

This is Asia. I guess he put up a pretty good fight, because the boys were gone almost all day. They finally got him in, though, with the help of a few four wheelers and some expertly skilled drivers/cow wranglers and a bit of good luck.

Hail, the conquering heroes.

Our family, like most families, has many traditions. One of these traditions is to have a "Family Dance." I LOVE the Family Dance. It is easily my favorite part of any reunion (aside from being with family) and, I hate to admit it, but I am an excellent dancer.

We danced in the barn to many a favorite song. I think the best part is that there are only a handful of people in our whole family who can actually dance. The rest of us just fling our arms and legs around and have a great time doing it. Nobody was hurt this year, thank goodness, but that has not always been the case in the past.

The Family Dance is usually held later at night, so Bennett got to stay up waaaay past his bedtime to participate in this fun event. He still managed to rock the floor, although he had this blank expression on his face the entire time.

Oh, my tired little boy. What a good dancer you are.
(like your mom)

The last day of the reunion we spent packing and taking our last rides on the horses (for Matt) and the four wheelers (for Bennett).

My handsome cowboy, riding bareback and barefoot and looking dang good doing it.

This is the last picture we took before we got in our car to head home. We said good-bye to everybody as they sat on their horses and waved. And then we drove.

And drove. And drove. And drove.

For 16 hours straight we drove, our car only stopping to get gas and food, and then it was back on the road. Straight through the day, and the night, and the day, getting home around 7:00 the next morning. It was awful and good all at the same time, because out of 16 hours of drive time, Bennett was only awake for maybe six of them.

When we got home we fell (literally) into bed and slept until noon, at which point we set about destroying our home by dragging everything from the car out into our living room, and leaving it strewn across the floor for several days while we had both contracted a stomach bug and were violently ill.

But that's another story for another time.

Oh, life is so fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Waaaaaay Behind...

I have so much to put on here, I don't even know where to start. But because I am tired of receiving calls and text messages asking us why we haven't been updating, and because I am easily swayed by peer pressure, I will give you a brief sneek-peek into what you have to look forward to in the future.

Road trip

Meeting Cousins


Blessing Zoey Jane


Hazard Family Reunion 2010

Four Wheeling

Barn Ball

Black Canyon National Park

Hanging Out


16-hour non stop trip home

Not to mention a severe round of the stomach flu, tiling, painting, backyard BBQs, building, mowing, game nights, cleaning, organizing, new stake church calling, relaxing and a whole lot of being together. It's been pretty intense, but a ton of fun! Get ready to read!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Best Three Years

August 10th marks the three year anniversary of me being married to my best friend. I am the luckiest girl.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nothing Better

This week was filled with absolutely average, run-of-the-mill happenings. Nothing incredible. Nothing spectacular. Nothing out of the ordinary. Which is why I have nothing to complain about.

We are loving our place in life right now. (Well, I am writing this alone, but I think Matt and Bennett are pretty content with themselves, too.) We have a great home in a great little neighborhood, a fantastic ward with wonderful friends, family who loves and supports us no matter what, a job that Matt loves and excels at, a little boy that makes our lives so dang fun...could it get any better? I submit to you that it could not.

Well, actually I could really use a good foot rub right now, but anyway...

Some of the highlights from this wonderfully average week include a neighborhood birthday party, taking a dive in my neighbor's trash, preparing our home for deployment, eating at friends' houses, and a super fun date night for me and Matt. Allow me to illustrate.

Here's some of us at Bennett's first official "Friend Party." It was for the little girl across the street turning one, so it was really more for the adults than the kids. Still fun, though. Most of the people invited were from my walking group, and we all vowed to walk a little extra the next morning to work off the delicious Princess Cake and ice cream cones we ate.

It never happened though, because we made it one block the next day and came across this...

A treasure trove of children's items! Seriously, it's like one of our neighbors decided they were done with kids for the rest of their lives, so they just chucked everything they owned out on the curb. Our walk came to a screeching halt while three of us picked through the pile and another person ran home to get their car...which we packed. This picture is only some of the stuff I got personally. Other people took home way more. Mostly it was just toys (which I thoroughly washed and sanitized) but they were all practically brand new and they even had batteries in them that worked!

What I am most excited about though, is this adorable corduroy bedroom set from NoJo Baby Products that Bennett will inherit when he is ready for his toddler bed.

This is from the Internet (obviously) but I got the mobile, the bed skirt, a changing pad, a little throw blanket (not the one pictured, but just as cute), and three little wall decorations. Online this stuff is selling for about $190, so I am rejoicing in my good fortune. Thank you, anonymous neighbor! And a special thanks to you, Clorox Bleach, for making this all possible.

Besides rummaging through garbage cans, large portion of our time lately has been spent getting ready for Matt to deploy. Which means it is a good thing we are saving on stuff like bedding because in the last couple of weeks we have spent major on things like alarm systems, garage door openers, bathroom light fixtures, laptops, a camera, Army stuff, a hitch for the car...the list goes on and on. I know it is all good stuff and we are really fine with the spending, it's just a lot to do all at once and I have had more than one heart palpitation in the process.

Also, the last couple of weeks has been nightmarish for poor Matt, since he was just moved to a new unit one month before they deploy (I will never understand how the Army thinks). So because he was the Executive Officer of his old unit, and is now the Medical Platoon Leader and the Medical Staff Officer for the Colonel of this new unit, he has been expected to move both companies to Iraq simultaneously. Just so you know, there is a lot of stuff that needs to be moved when hundreds of thousands of people and equipment move overseas for a year. Like, a lot of stuff. Needless to say, I have seen Matt only a handful of hours in the last few weeks, as he was gone to work by 4:00am and not home until 9:00pm most days. Exhausting!

Therefore, Matt decided we needed to do a little something to relax together. So Saturday night he took me on a way fun date that started with milkshakes and arcade games, and ended with a movie and pizza that was delivered to us in the theater (did you know they can do that? Pretty cool). Mostly it was just fun to spend time with Matt as a grown-up and not have to constantly be on the lookout for Little One.

This was my favorite game we played at the arcade (besides Guitar Hero, which it is a good thing we do not own because I could totally get hooked on that). It was this super intense safari hunt where you had to shoot giant spiders and bees before they got to you first. Matt and I took down most of the monster bugs, but the Mega Spider got us at the end.

We must have done OK at some of the games we played however, because we won Bennett this weird squishy-frog-ball thing with our tickets at the end...and then I left it in the theater. Sorry, Bennett.

After that we ate pizza and watched "Despicable Me," where I learned I have the nose of a super-villain. I always knew this thing was good for something. :)

So now it is Sunday (actually I am posting this on Tuesday, but I started it Sunday) and Matt and Bennett are hanging out in the chair sharing potato chips and Hershey's Kisses and life is good. Which brings us full circle from the beginning of this post. Which is an excellent place for stopping.

Have a great week!