Monday, August 8, 2011

a tropical desert vacay

my youngest sister erica just graduated from high school. it still blows my mind that my sweet baby sister is so grown up. i remember walking her to kindergarten with my dad on her first day of school. she was the apple of our mother's eye (well we all were, i suppose), but i know mom had an extra soft spot in her heart for her baby. perhaps it was because deep down she knew she'd get the least amount of time with her little ricky - who was only five when she passed away. my heart broke when that happened. it was heart wrenching, and painful, and devastating for me to lose my mom, but i was 20. i had spent so much time with her, had collected myriad memories, and was blessed to be raised to adulthood by her and my father. it just didn't seem fair, though, for a 5 year old to have to go on without her mother. life just isn't fair.
recently erica and five of her girlfriends had planned their senior trip to go to maui. (lucky girl...i went to anaheim for mine.) one of her friend's fathers works for hawaiian air, and was able to get several buddy passes so that the girls could fly for just a couple hundred dollars vs. $1,000. the trip was planned, hotel booked, rental car reserved...and finally the day had arrived. their bags were packed, and they were off. unfortunately they only made it as far as LAX, but then they were stuck. flights would look open and promising, and then, last minute, they would fill right up. since they were using buddy passes, they were put on the lowest priority standby...things were not looking good. after a few nights in LAX, they decided to head to san fransico to see if that would increase their chances. they discussed all sorts of options. maybe they could fly into oahu or kauai? kona, they determined, may have been their best bet, and then just take an island hopper to maui. but to no avail...flight after flight filled up, and time and time again, they were turned away. after spending 5 nights sleeping in california airports, they finally decided to head home. when i heard the news, my heart, once again, broke for my little ricky. life so isn't fair.
i was so honored, however, when she called and asked if she and our other single sister, rachel (i call her my ray of sunshine) could come and spend a few days with us. honored, and flattered...but also a bit nervous. how could a stay in the arizona desert be anything but a big huge let-down in comparison to the tropics of hawaii? i had three days to come up with something. john and i started jotting down some ideas of things to do, and then i wrote a silly little poem to give to them when they got here.

Dear Sweet Erica,

Your bags were all packed; you were ready to be flown
To a tropical paradise, like one you had never known.

You boarded a flight, hoping to get to Kona…
But wait – there was a mix up...your plane landed in Arizona!!

What a disappointment, to miss out on the sun,
the white sandy beaches…and hours and hours of fun;
the oceans, the luaus, even a fresh flower lei,
coconuts…macadamia nuts…

But here’s what I have to say:


ARIZONA is really, the place you want to be.
And if you’re luck strikes just right, it could hit 123 (degrees, that is)!

We’ve got the world's best beaches; the waves just can’t be beat.
Our favorite is called BIG SURF; we go there to dodge the heat.

You want shopping and dining? You’ve come to the right place.
There’s nothing like a trip to LAST CHANCE, where through the doors you’ll have to race.

But you’ll make out like a champion, with bags and bags of loot,
And of course, you’ll be the best-dressed, USU gal to boot!

We’ve also got the Scottsdale mall, it’s hip and oh so posh,
But one look at a price tag, and you’ll be saying “OH MY GOSH”!

We can hit up a D-Backs game, or take a float down the river.
One taste of a Bahama Bucks, will make your whole body quiver (and shiver).

A pedicure might be nice, or a couple of late night movies.
We’ll have to forgo the clubs though…too many people smokin’ doobies.

The sunsets are simply breathtaking…the monsoons – AMAZING!
But just a word of caution, the sidewalks are a BLAZING!!

So don’t forget your flipflops, and a large bottle of sunscreen,
because that Arizona sun…well…it can be a mean machine!

Our home – it’s no 5 star, but we’ll keep it clean and neat,
And although you planned on being with your friends,
Well family?...they just can’t be beat.

So maybe it’s a blessing, WAY deep down in disguise,
Because I think you’ll find Mesa, to be quite a surprise.

Plus you have a family, who loves you more than life,
And really our only objective, is to ease your pain and strife.

So no more thoughts of Maui…Kauai, Ohau, or Kona;
But sit back, relax…



our house is so small, so we had to do some creative rearranging in order to convert the playroom into a guestroom. like i said, it was no 5 star, but i think they were happy with the arrangements. (except when their little niece and nephew would barge in to greet them every morning, and they while they were at it, would crawl over them looking for this toy or that. the girls were great sports about it though. they're the best aunts any kids could ask for.)

when we picked them up at the airport, we gave them each a flower lei and a bottled water (just like they do in hawaii). we were all laughing pretty was so cheesy. i had made a sign for the garage, and our plan was to line the yard with tiki torches to create a hawaiian feel and ambiance for them when they arrived. i was pretty disappointed, though, when we couldn't find any of the fuel cups for our torches, so on our way to the airport - in complete panic and utter desperation - we called our friends, the parkers. you can ask the parkers to do anything, and they will drop whatever they have going on to help you out. and not only will they do it, but they do everything to the hilt...going above and beyond every single time. i couldn't believe what i saw when we pulled up to the house after picking up my sisters. not only were there tiki torches everywhere...but there were flower leis up in the trees, and hawaiian hats in the bushes, and grass skirts lining the walkways, etc, etc, etc. it was absolutely perfect. and my sisters thought it was about the coolest thing they had ever seen. it was really late and dark, so i didn't get any great pictures of the whole yard, but just trust me on this was amazing!

in the 4-5 days that they were here, we managed to squeeze it all in. and i mean literally, we squeezed it all in.

we spent a day at the pool and made mr. pinapple pina colodas.

we floated the salt river in the most hideous bathing suits and shorts that we could find at goodwill (i know what you're thinking...and yes, we washed them thoroughly). we felt beautiful and confident (hope you can sense my sarcasm in this statement), until we kept bumping into a group of guys, who were hitting on my sisters, and even though i'm married and pregnant, i still, for a minute, wished i had been wearing something a bit more flattering to my already unflattering figure. turns out those guys? yeah, all they were really interested in, were our hats.

we made a day of shopping and hit up last chance in phoenix. the girls were pretty blown away by how crazy it is there, and how nut-so people can be for a bargain. we spent a few hours at last chance, and then headed over to the fashion square mall in scottsdale where we shopped for another couple of hours. if it were up to us, we could have gone on all day, but we had been dragging the kids from store to store starting at 9:15 in the morning til 4:30 in the afternoon...and they had had enough (that's putting it lightly. if you want the real truth, they were turning into animals. so we were forced to call it quits).

we got the most delicious shaved ice at bahama bucks...with lots and lots of cream.

we did some night surfing at waikiki beach (aka big surf).

we got pedicures...and eyebrow and lip waxes.

we swam at a local pool, and john and the girls had a blast on the flowrider (actually john thinks he broke his shoulder...consequently his session lasted only 30 minutes). i had fun taking pictures and video (and protecting my little growing peach). the kids loved the shallow pools and splash pads. there was fun to be had for all. (thanks sarah t. for the tokens!)

we went to a d-backs game, and john and i had to laugh, because i swear, every diamondbacks game we go to, they play the dodgers. we had to get a picture with one of their crazy fans. see below, it's impossible to miss him.

after the game we came home, put the kids to bed, applied sally hansen polish strips to our nails, pulled wax out of our ears (so nasty, but also kind of addicting), and made homemade pizookies. (in hindsight, we probably should have done the earwax thing after the pizookies, but they were de-lish nonetheless. in my opinion, nothing can ruin a pizookie.)

sunday morning the girls wanted to go to church at least to take the sacrament before hitting the road (aren't they good girls?). it was fun having them come to the ward and being able to introduce them to some of the people we have grown to love so much in the 5 years we've lived here. the saddest part of the trip, though (besides the night the three of us spent two hours at a restaurant and sobbed our little hearts out while talking about our mom and the day she died), was having to say goodbye.

and almost just as sad as that (well, not really, but still) was having to bid farewell to my trusty vehicle of the past 10 years. my black, two-door, ford explorer expedition. an explorer expedition? you ask. no no, it couldn't be. it's either an explorer, or it's an expedition. but i'm telling you folks, it's really true. for just one year, maybe two, ford actually came out with a limited edition model called the explorer expedition. it was my dream car. and it was all mine. i bought it when i came home from my mission a decade ago, and it has served me (us) well ever since. john started driving it when we got married, but i've always still considered it my baby. after we found out about our (real human) baby number three, we decided it was time for an upgrade, and it just seemed to make the most sense to get rid of old locka (the name ruby so affectionately gave it about a year ago). we offered it to my dad, he said he'd take it, and the girls so willingly drove it home. it was so sad watching my sisters, and my car, pull out of the subdivision, and out of sight. so many memories. so many memories.

i hope ricky and rae had the best time ever. i know that mesa doesn't even compare to maui, but in my opinion, what really matters most is not where you are, but who you are with (plus i did my very best to bring the tropics to the desert). i am so thankful for my sweet sisters and the unforgettable time we had together. the only thing that would have made it even better, was if our other two sisters could have joined us. heck, our brothers, too, and the whole entire family. nothing beats time spent with family...whether in arizona or hawaii, the city or the country, the beaches or the mountains, the tropics or the desert.

i now like to think of arizona as the #1 tropical desert vacation destination.

ok, you can all stop laughing now.


natalie eve said...

wowza! that was fabulous! i would like to come to vacation at your house! not only are you a great mom, wife, and friend, you are a stellar sister as well! miss you lady. and your little pregnant belly is ADORABLE!

Jessica said...

Oh my goodness, you are such a fun sister! That really is a BUSY 3 days, but it sounds like so much fun. I love the baseball game pictures where you can see your cute pregnant belly. I'm so excited for you! You always amaze me, Nic, at all the things you do and just the person you are. I'm so glad you're my friend. =)

shannon said...

Wow, That all took some serious planning and partying. What a fun vacation for all of you. I just love how you can find such a fabulous way to look on the bright side. And that Poem...That would've taken me a year to write. You are adorable.

Angie P said...

I am so jealous!!!! Looks like you guys had a blast though :)

Jess and Matt said...

Nicole, you are so cool!!!! I have never been to Hawaii and don't know how I'll ever make it there, but I will let you know when I am coming to Mesa :) Seriously, you are the best sister ever. You made memories with your sisters that will last a lifetime. I smiled through this whole post and could imagine the times my sister and I have shared. I LOVE the hideous bathing suits! I just loved every bit of this. Oh, and I totally get the attachment to your car. I swear that our cars, when we appreciate and love them, have little spirits or something. Okay, now that i have gone on and on and probably sound like a crazy person, I'll end. SO excited about your little peach...turning melon....REAL baby number 3!!!!

Anonymous said...

Nic! It really was such a blast thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for everything!! I will never forget the fun AZ vacation that I took for my senior trip! I love you guys so much!!

Blackner Family said...

Wow!! Talk about 5 star hotel and customer service!! You are an incredible sister and so creative! And while you are in your sick part of pregnancy....amazing!!

sarahtuckett said...

You are so amazing Nicole! Those are two lucky sisters to have you to do such a fun thing for them! Love you bunches!!!

Hello my Name is Rachel... said...

BEST vacay ever! And BEST recap of the vacay!!!!! Seriously Nic, it was so stinking fun! Thank you so much, I loved every single second of it. It's kinda sads being back here. Miss ya already!