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Phoenix Family Festivities

After a quiet Christmas with our little trio, we were ready for a week full of family! The Moody gang descended on our home at about 1:15am Monday morning (the 27th). Stephen, Silas, & I picked them up from the airport. We were thrilled to have Mom & Dad, Stephanie, Amy, Tim & Ben finally meet Silas! Jon joined us the next day–making a grand total of 10 people in our house. I’m so glad we had room for all of them to stay with us, thanks to some air mattresses borrowed from friends.

As soon as they walked in the house, they swarmed Silas with love, adoration, kisses, & hugs. Silas loved the attention. I’d never seen him smile and laugh so much as he did with Grammy, Grampy, and all the aunts and uncles. Aunt Stephanie was a pro right from the start since  she worked in the maternity ward last semester. She even got Silas to copy her in making “o-o-h” sounds. It was fun to see everyone pitch in and help with baths, diaper changings, feedings, rockings to sleep, dressings, play times, and cuddling fests. We didn’t realize how much Silas looks like his Uncle Tim until Tim held him. They have the same mouth! I’m convinced Silas’s IQ went up several points due to all the interaction. Grammy read him books and even started teaching him phonics! How special to see my baby loved and handled so tenderly by the Moody men.

Aunt Amy was Silas’s personal photographer, and she captured some precious moments and expressions.

Monday was our Moody family Christmas. Stephen had been wanting to try a deep-fried turkey for a while, and this seemed to be a good opportunity for him to attempt it. He borrowed a deep-fryer from some friends, and we managed to make a pretty decent bird! First, we brined the 18 lb. turkey in salt water for several hours. Then the three gallons of oil (yes, 3 gallons) had to be heated for about an hour. Next, the turkey went in to fry for another hour. It came out beautifully. Stephen did a great job carving a turkey for the first time ever. I think the best part was seeing everybody chowing down on the turkey bone of their choice–we were a hungry bunch! All in all, I think it was nice to try a deep-fried turkey, but I’m not sure it was worth the extra effort.

After a big family dinner, we sang some carols and opened presents. The harmonies of singing together as a family are something I’ve missed. Those boys have really developed a good set of pipes.

Tuesday, we walked around the beautiful lake in the Estrella Mountain Ranch community. The sky was so blue and the air was still. It was good to stretch our legs for some exercise.

Stephen met us for lunch at In-N-Out Burger. You just can’t visit Phoenix without trying a mouth-watering In-N-Out cheeseburger. For those of you who may not know, In-N-Out is burger joint located only in CA, AZ, NV, & UT. They pride themselves on fresh ingredients, and you can sure taste it!

Tuesday night, the family watched Silas while Stephen and I had a date to a friend’s wedding. You might remember reading about the Jack & Jill bridal shower we hosted in August. It was a joy to see Rob, Crossroad Baptist Church’s former intern, and Jenel, Stephen’s boss’s daughter, tie the knot. They were married in the courtyard of a beautiful castle just before sunset.

I was most impressed with the mutual love and respect Rob and Jenel’s families had for one another. That’s rare. I’m sure many in-laws get along fine, and maybe even like each other, but to see two families who held one another in such high regard was special.

In contrast to Tuesday’s clear and sunny skies, Wednesday was surprisingly rainy, cloudy, and cold. I’m not used to such conditions! We managed to see a lot, though, on such an inclement weather day. Apache Trail was our destination. It is a scenic drive through the mountainous east valley desert that leads to Tortilla Flat (a town of 6 people), Canyon Lake, and Roosevelt Lake. We drove until the paved road turned to dirt. It was a cool drive that I’d like to repeat in better weather. Back at the start of Apache Trail, the family checked out Goldfield, an old mining town turned tourist attraction.

For supper, we decided to hit Organ Stop Pizza since we’d heard so much about it. It was jaw-droppingly awesome! Basically, the entire pizza parlor was part of the Wurlitzer pipe organ. We ordered our pizza and settled in for an amazing concert by one talented organist. There were trumpet pipes on the second story, lights, bubbles, flags, bells, washtubs, drums, an accordion, piano, farm animal noises, and much, much more that were all incorporated into the music. We put in some requests for songs, but the place was so packed, that the organist never got to our suggestions. He must have known every possible song by heart. He played the Canadian national anthem (by request), the Star-Spangled Banner, a medley of songs from Phantom of the Opera, and theme from Mission Impossible. Silas’s eyes were filled with wonder at all the flashing lights!

Then it was off to the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall. Believe me, it’s not easy to coordinate with a large group of people in a huge mall. I was surprised to discover the Anthropologie store. I’ve browsed their website a few times, but didn’t realize they had a storefront. Stephen & Silas loved the Microsoft store (Stephen, the gadgets & Silas, the lights).

Thursday morning we girls hit some stores for our New Year’s Eve party supplies. Stephanie fell in love with a mini disco ball while Amy picked up some party hats for everyone. When we returned, Stephen was home from work early, so we bundled up (it was so cold!) and drove to White Tank Mountain Regional Park for a short hike. We arrived at the park near sunset, so I was able to snap a few pretty pics of the saguaro cacti. The family went on ahead of us as we were getting Silas ready for the trail. He wore his adorable baby winter pea coat! We saw some mule deer cross the road before we headed up the trail to the White Tank waterfall. (Don’t worry, I didn’t take Silas on these rocks. The boys decided to get in a little rock climbing.)Along the way were some Native American petroglyphs. Mom and Dad have been fascinated by Arizona plants and animals & had lots of questions, so I definitely need to brush up on my flora and fauna before any more inquisitive minds visit us.

We had hoped to show the guys some F-16s practicing maneuvers around Luke AFB, but with it being the holidays, no jets were taking off. For supper, we introduced the family to Garcia‘s, an old family run Mexican restaurant with plenty of chips and salsa.

After dinner, a quick trip to Cabela’s, a huge outdoor sporting goods store with lots of animal exhibits, finished our tour.

Friday was a monumental day since our family portraits were scheduled for the morning, party prep for the afternoon, and New Year’s Eve party for the evening. We managed to make it to the JC Penney photo studio in time. It was a challenge for the photographer to fit us all in her frame. Although we wished David and Tammy could have been in the pictures too, I honestly don’t know how they would have fit since there were so many people already! I’m so thankful we got some good pictures of little Silas Clark with his extended family.

That afternoon, Mom, Amy, and Stephanie kicked it into high gear preparing food, cleaning, and decorating for the party. The guys helped quite a bit too with Wal-mart runs, decorating, and such.

I literally could not have done it without all of them since I wasn’t feeling well and had to go to bed during most of the preparations. I’ve never hosted a New Year’s Eve party before, but it was a blast! Our main course was Hoosier chili and cornbread with lots of snacks and desserts on the side.

We played a hilarious round of Catch Phrase and some Mafia.

One advantage of living on the west coast is that you can pick your New Year’s celebration time. We opted to watch the ball drop at 10pm for our party. That way all the kiddos and non-night owls could hit the hay early. Everyone loved the party hats and noisemakers.

During their visit, the Moodys did quite a bit around our house. Jon, Tim, & Ben  pulled the weeds in our back yard. Amy and Dad switched the handles on our freezer and fridge to give us more convenient access. Mom did a ton of laundry, dishes, cleaning, & cooking. I was spoiled!

Sunday, the family got to see what our weekly services are like in a church plant. Sadly, I was not able to make it to church because I was sick, but the family jumped in and sang an ensemble with Stephen in place of our planned duet. That afternoon Silas got to watch the Colt’s game with the fam. We celebrated an early birthday for Mom with Chocolate Eclair, lots of ice cream, and a video call with David & Tammy.

Monday the guys had some brother bonding time at the shooting range. Jon had brought some of his guns, and they rented some at the range to shoot for a while. The girls, Dad, Silas & I did a little shopping. That evening all of us except the girls drove up to Wickenburg, northeast of Phoenix. The scenery along the way was handsome, and the old-fashioned cowboy town of Wickenburg is definitely a place I’ll be revisiting. (In fact, Jon and I did just that on Tuesday so he could buy a cowboy hat and boots. Yeehaw!) The streets were lined with saddlery shops and western wear stores. The sidewalks were covered with tin roofs held up by wooden beams like you might see in an old western movie. Statues were strategically placed throughout the town with accompanying audio history recordings to tell the tourist the story of the town. Most everything was closed, but we did see the steam engine and ate in the Cowboy Cafe before heading back home.

We’ve missed living near family, and I’m so thankful the Moodys were able to meet Silas as a baby. We’re already looking forward to the next time we can be together!

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