Dam Jenna

If any of you have ever made the drive from Arizona to Utah, you'll know that you have to pass over the Glen Canyon Dam.

And if you've ever driven over a dam, you've probably made a dam joke.

You know what I'm talking about....the dam Visitor's Center, the dam tourists, the dam tour guide, dam pictures, etc.


on our trip to Utah earlier this month, we were driving over the dam and snickering at the dam wordplay.

"Watch out for all these dam tourists on the road!"

"Anyone need to use the bathroom? We could stop at the dam visitor's center!"

And so on. So hilarious.

Just as we were crossing the dam, my sister Sarah's phone rang. It was our other sister, Jenna. While I was obviously not a participating member of the conversation, I still got the idea, and have reconstructed said conversation here:

S: Hi Jenna.
J: Hi Sarah. How's the drive?
S: Good.
J: Where you guys at?
S: Just driving over the dam.
J: Oh really? Cool. Well I'm calling to see if I can borrow your dam car. (She was no doubt chuckling at her cleverness.)
S: .....
J: .....
S: Jenna, you can't say -
J: But I need to borrow your car! Are you still at the dam? Where are your dam keys?
S: Jenna! Just because we're at the dam doesn't mean you can put "dam" in front of everything!
J: Oh. Well, can I borrow your car?

Bahahahaha. I sort of thought this was hilarious.

But perhaps you have to know my lovely sister Jenna to really appreciate it. You know, the girl who was sure that the phrase "might as well" was actually "mineaswell" (one word), who was convinced that she was stuck in an elevator before realizing (after 15 minutes) that she hadn't pushed the button, and who asked if a football game would still be considered an "upset" if everyone was happy about it.

Those are just some of my favorite Jenna-isms. I just love her to pieces.


Because it wouldn't feel like summer without it

A trip to California, that is.

We decided sort of last-minute-ly to meet my mom and siblings in California for a little overnight stay.

They were going to Disneyland Thursday and Friday and then the beach on Saturday. Since Disneyland isn't exactly in the financial cards for us right now, we drove up Friday evening, spent Friday night walking around Downtown Disney, and then went to the beach with them on Saturday before driving home.

Or, to clarify, Dallin and I spent Friday night walking around Downtown Disney. Madelyn, being the little person that she is, gets into Disneyland free, so my mom met us outside Disneyland and took Maddy on some of the rides while we ate and explored. So yes, my baby did just go to Disneyland without me. And yes, I am jealous.

Anyway, I was positively determined to get some pictures of our trip, so now you get to see them!

Maddy loves shoulder rides from Daddy...and just loves Daddy in general.

She also liked trying on hats at the World of Disney store.

Arriving at Newport Beach! I know it's crazy popular, and it was really crowded (and hard to park), but man is it pretty!

Hanging out with Aunt Sarah on the beach. Yeah, Maddy is in a onesie, not a swimsuit. I was planning on more of a "walk around the boardwalk" day at the beach rather than a "play in the sand and water" day at the beach, but whatev.

She loved the sand, but wasn't sure about the (very cold) water.

Maddy loves G!

Aaaand, a family picture.

So there you have it. One fun-filled Harris family vacation! We have finally experienced summer...just in time for school to start next week.

Thanks for reminding me.

Family Pictures

We haven't had any "professional" pictures taken of Madelyn. (GASP!)

Not like the girl's life isn't documented, because it totally is. Enter my mom.

My mom is really a great photographer. She has an awesomely awesome camera and has taken a few classes on photography techniques and what not.

She's been taking pictures of Madelyn from her first seconds of life. You think I'm kidding? I'm not. We all joke that Madelyn is going to think cameras are called "grandmas."

Anyway, it's been great to not have to shell out any moo-lah for "professional" pictures and still have great pictures of Maddy girl.

And then when I decided I wanted some cute pictures of our whole fam, my mom was more than happy to oblige.

I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. There are many favorites, so get comfy. The first is at the top of my blog, as the header. I love how you can see Madelyn's little footsie sticking out. I do not love that it looks like I don't have a butt. I have a butt. I promise.

*Side note: These are very hastily and unprofessionally edited by me. Don't judge. Side note over.*

Told you there were a lot. There are a lot more. I'm sparing you from endless scrolling. You can thank me later.

Anyways, I loved taking pictures with my two favorites, and I love how they turned out! I also love my mom, and I love that my mom's going rate for picture taking is a junior candy sundae from Sonic. Maybe someday I'll buy some frames and make a cool wall collage of pictures. Totally want to do that. Totally need money for frames. Totally accepting donations in person or by mail.

Oh and also, if you looove Maddy's headband like I do, my sister makes them. I can totally hook you up (and yes, they're cheap [pricewise]!)

Vacay, Eh?

In celebration of Dallin's dad's 50th birthday (not to mention to just get the heck away), we flew up to Seattle last week. And if you think that sounds fun, hang on to your shorts, because we didn't stop there. We then drove the 4-5 hours to Vancouver, or, more specifically, the IN-famous ski resort known as Whistler.

This place would truly be a skier's paradise in the winter. Or a snowboarder's paradise. Or a snow lover's paradise. I am none of those things. But it is also not winter.

Green is good.

You know what else is good? Bungee cords. I've never really been grateful for them before, but I am now. Without them, I would no longer have a husband.

Of course, I would like to think that my husband would not throw himself off a 160 ft tall bridge towards a raging river of death if bungee cords had not been invented. So maybe I should be thankful for both bungee cords and my husband's...um...good sense. Combined.

Also, I am grateful for the smarty pants engineers who created this:

in such a way that it did not fall to pieces even when we were doing this:

over this:

This crazy gondola ride, known as Peak 2 Peak and built for the 2010 Winter Olympics, is...nuts. It takes you from one mountain to another. Yeah, uh huh.

Oh, and here I am at the tip top of a mountain. I am also 6 months preggo.

You betta believe it.

We also made s'mores:

(This is the better of the two pictures I got of Dallin eating his s'mores. Just trust me)

We sat in a bobsled:

and visited the bobsled track for the olympics.

Tour guide man says you can get up to 150 km/hr on this baby. You know that some people go down this track on a little sled, face first? It's a sport called Skeleton. I think it's called that because that's all that's left once your skin flies off.

We also visited a very pretty lake/park, at which I decided to look fat in every picture that was taken of me, except perhaps this one:

Oh, and a float plane dock:

and a giant stone man, more accurately known as an Inukshuk, which is a symbol of friendship and the mascot for the Olympic games:

AAAAAAAND, because I believe in saving the best for last:

Now, don't get too excited. I taught everyone long ago that guns are not safe in my hands. But hey, just the fact that we got to visit THE Biathlon site was good enough for me. Don't know anything about Biathlon? It's only the most random, and therefore possibly one of the most wonderful, sports out there. Here are the rules:

I told Dallin I was going to be a Biathlete someday. He then reminded me that I hate the cold, I don't like skiing, and I don't like guns.

So much for encouraging my dreams.

We had a fantastic vacation!! It was wonderful to spend time with family and be somewhere where our shoes don't melt into the ground. This is the closest thing I have to a group picture of all of us:

so you can work with that. Imagine 3 more people in it and everyone looking at the camera. Close enough.

Have a good one, eh? Stay tuned for info about and pics of our NEW HOUSE.

Ringing in 2009 - Seattle style

And so continues my quest to catch up on my blog.

Dallin and I got the chance to make our way up to (snowy!) Seattle to spend New Year's with his family. For any detail/specifics oriented people out there, they actually live in Redmond, just outside of Seattle, and they got pummeled with snow the week before Christmas! We went up on the 27th, but that was still enough time for a little rain to sneak in and melt a good deal of the snow. Which is hard to believe, really, because in my eyes, there was still quite a bit of snow. I grew up in Phoenix, people! Any and all snow is NEWS.

So anyway, we got in late on the 27th. Dallin slept on the plane, but I find plane-sleep impossible, so I was pretty tired by the time we got to his parents' house. The next day was Sunday, and they have late church, so we got to sleep in before heading out. It was almost dark by the time chruch was over - only like 4:00! I thought that was crazy. That night, we opened presents. This proved to be highly entertaining, as the first present each of us opened was a screaming stuffed monkey (or, in Dallin's case, TWO screaming stuffed monkeys) from Dallin's mom.

These babies stretch and shoot (like...a rubberband? best simile I could think of to describe this to you), fly, and scream...unless of course you shoot them too hard into the ceiling, in which case the screamer breaks, or stretch them too far, in which case their arms and legs fall off. Not that we encountered these problems... we just...you know...heard.

So the night was filled with the sounds of screaming monkeys, and of our laughter at the screaming monkeys. Ah, good times.

We got other presents too, of course. I got a cute Mickey Mouse t-shirt and an a-maz-ing Disney piano songbook. Man, I've wanted one of those for FOREVER. Dallin got a game and iTunes gift card, and some edited movies- "Braveheart" and "Saving Private Ryan." I got one of those too- "Four Weddings and a Funeral," which we watched after the present opening. I didn't make it all the way through. Dallin's parents also handed down their video camera to us, which is very exciting. We haven't used it yet, but when we do, I'm sure you'll know.

The next day, Dallin and his bro Dayton went snowboarding, which I wasn't really interested in, so I went with the rest of the family to see "The Tales of Despereaux" and go out to lunch. After that, my sisses-in-law and I played some Rummikub before Danielle (one sis-in-law) left to pick up her beau from the airport. D'Nae (other sis-in-law, there will be a quiz later) and I watched CSI, and when everyone got home from all their various places we had dinner and then went bowling!

Danielle and Mike. Cute picture, no?

Dallin's dad dominated at bowling. He bowled a 171! Crazy! I was proud of my 149...

The next day Dallin's cousin Janeece and her son Linus came to play with us. We had fun playing various games and laughing at Linus' antics, particularly relating to High School Musical, which he loves.

The next day was New Year's Eve, and we headed into downtown Seattle to check out the science center there.

Dallin tried to make it look like the dino was kissing me. Did this work? I think not.

Inside the butterfly room, which is awesome not only because you are in a room full of butterflies, but also because they keep it at a nice, warm temperature! I think it was the first time I took my coat off the whole trip!

A demonstration of Dallin's mad rock climbing skills.

That night, we went to a place to race go-karts. The only picture I have of this place is this one:

which is not very indicative of the whole go-kart experience.

The race was fun, even though my car broke down about a lap into it and so I had to get out and get a new car, and even though the computers were broken which meant we didn't get times or results. But you know, other than that, it was fun.

The new year was rung in at home, watching the countdown and fireworks at the Space Needle on TV, with glasses of Martinelli's to toast. Honestly, there is nowhere else I would have rather been. I had family around me, bubbly to drink, and my husband to kiss- who could ask for more?

Dallin and I spent the night (and much of the morning) playing a computer game with Dayton, which I will not tell you the name of in order to avoid further embarrassment. We were up until 5:30. That's all I'm gonna say.

New Year's Day was spent pretty lazily until we had to leave for the airport late in the afternoon. It was sad to see the end of such a great, relaxing vacation...especially knowing that I'd have to go to work the next day. I love our Harris family and am so grateful for the time we get to spend with them!

Anyway, this post has been long enough, I think...stay tuned for thoughts about 2008 and 2009, as well as a post about our trip to the bed and breakfast!

Holly Jolly Christmas

Yes, it is January.

Yes, I am finally writing about our Christmas.

You've heard the phrase "Better late than never?" This phrase and I go way back. We're tight. I am going to embroider it on a pillow someday.

If I ever learn to embroider. Better late than never.

So - Christmas! Our first Christmas together was indeed very special.

Christmas Eve found Katie working at American Eagle and Dallin doing a little work from home. I didn't get home until about 4:45 or so, and we finished some present wrapping and egg nog drinking before heading over to my parents' house for the traditional Christmas Eve bash.

Said bash consists of eating, (dr. pepper) drinking, mingling...all fairly typical bash-ing.

Our typical bash-ing.

And then it's showtime. A fantastic talent show is followed by (trumpets!) the Christmas Eve play.

The Christmas Eve play was started by my mother (gosh! my mom and her traditions!) many moons ago. It originally involved her and her four brothers (one of which was always assigned any extra female roles) and usually tells a story involving Santa Claus and some kind of catastrophe that is threatening to ruin Christmas. Over the years, several evolutions have taken place:

1) The play now stars the next generation of Allen kids
2) While the "Christmas is in danger" idea is still the main idea, the plot revolves around some kind of event that took place that year (we've done the Olympics, ASU football (the 96-97 season-yeah baby), and Harry Potter, just to name a few)
3) I play Santa Claus

This last one might shock you. I mean, I hope it shocks you.



Not exactly twinners, you know?

Anyway, don't ask me how it happened. But I'm Santa Claus. I have been for the past 5 or 6 years now. It's an odd job, but somebody's gotta do it.

This year, the play focused on the bad economy. Basically, the bank was going to foreclose on Santa's house and workshop, making it impossible for him to get out and deliver his toys on Christmas Eve. Riot ensues. But with a little Christmas magic, hearts are changed and all is well again!

The cast

Let me just say that the stuffing of Santa didn't go as well this year as in previous years. Santa had quite a few questionable lumps in odd places...not to mention his pants simply did not want to stay on.

But they did. I made sure of it.

After the play, we all get to open our present from Grandma and Papa. It's always pajamas. Call me clingy, but I clung to my childhood and requested that Dallin and I also get pjs. So we did. And I'm glad because we slept in style!

I got to open one more present that night, right before bed. Dallin gave me a card informing me that we would be going to stay the night at a bed and breakfast in Pinetop in a few weeks! (of course, that "few weeks" passed and our trip was this past weekend. Don't hate! I'll get there!) It was a very thoughtful present and I slept on Christmas Eve with visions of cozy cabins dancing in my head.

Christmas morning, we took a traditional "waiting to see the presents picture"

before being let loose on the presents. Dallin and I got some great stuff, including a remote control airplane (his) and a fabulous spice rack (mine). We also got some new games, clothes, and movies, which are, of course, always welcome. Dallin got me some perfume and an AE gift card, along with B&B trip, and I got him a tent and camping stove, and a new dress shirt.

I abhor this picture. But it was the best I could do to show you our excellent Christmas load.

After the present opening came breakfast (breakfast flopovers (quesadillas) and crepes) and, of course, an afternoon nap!

We went to see "Bedtime Stories" that afternoon, which was actually pretty darn good, and then headed over to my grandparents' house for food, games, and more family time.

Bragging moment: my family loves this game called Tripole, and we play it all the time. I never win. But I WON this time. In fact, dominated might be a more appropriate term. Check it:

For all you non chip-game players out there, a lot of chips is a good thing. Oh, I was am so proud.

So, we stayed late and partied the night away! I won't ruin the good feeling I'm sure you have inside now by telling you about the terrible day I had at work the next day. Blech.

Oh, I love Christmas!

Can't wait till next year!

The 25th Annual Lighting Ceremony

So. My family.

As I'm sure is the case with everyone out there, my family has their own nice little traditions for Christmas time. Some of the more normal ones include opening pjs from my grandparents on Christmas Eve, watching "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve, building a fort for all the kids to sleep in, having a Christmas Eve program complete with a play in which Katie always gets to play Santa Claus...the usual.

There is one Allen family Christmas tradition, however, that I have yet to find a match for: the Lighting Ceremony.

Now, as you may have guessed, this tradition is all about turning on all the Christmas lights in my parents' front yard for the first time. What you may not have guessed is what accompanies said electrical display. Let me break it down for you:

1) Family and friends arrive. Usually between 4 and 5. This is my mom's whole side of the family, whatever friends my siblings invite, and whatever other family is lucky enough to be in town. All in all, we end up with a crowd of 35-45 people.

2) Crowd relocates from comfortable privacy of the indoors to the front driveway. Yep, the front driveway.

3) Crowd eats homemade chili, store bought french bread, and pink lemonade. Always this combination. Always. Still in the driveway, people.

4) Crowd moves to the street/sidewalk in front of the house

5) Crowd participates in program, which includes but is not limited to: introduction/history of the Lighting Ceremony, Q&A time with Mark Allen (the light putter-upper), singing various Christmas songs, freezing, and finally, a countdown during which several small children run to various outlets so they can plug in the lights when the countdown reaches 0.

6) Crowd sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as we walk inside. (Except for this year, when we sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and then sang the Sun Devil fight song, in honor of the big game...for all the good that did.)

That, people, is the lighting ceremony.

We've done this in the rain.

Let me just say that no matter how embarrassed we all act when a car slows down as it's passing by to see what those idiots are doing in their driveway, we all love the lighting ceremony. My mom started it, 25 years ago, and it's grown to be one of everyone's favorite Christmastime traditions, including mine. Perhaps, someday, I'll have the initiative to start a tradition that brings my whole family together to do something completely strange once a year.

love my fam.

You're all invited next year, just so you know. You'll have to give me your address so we can send you an invitation (yes, invitations are sent). Think you can handle it?

Here are a very few pictures from the blessed event - the big numero 25 - the Lighting Ceremony, 2008!

Ready to rumble.

Papa (Grandpa) enjoying his chili.

My sister Julie and her beau Chris enjoying THEIR chili.

My adorable cousin Brooke enjoying MY chili.

(here is where I would post pictures of the actual ceremony, including the crowd outside the house and the lights...but sometimes I suck and don't get good pictures of such things. Perhaps I will get them from my mom and post them later...)

Relocated to the indoors to watch the sucky mcsuckerson ASU v UofA game. That's all I'm going to say about that. De-press-ing.

Anyway, it was a fun time, as usual. Can't believe it's been going on for 25 years! And to think it'll probably keep going on for another 25...


Happy Thanksgiving Back.

Who got the "You've Got Mail" reference? Who got it? Love you.

Yay for turkey day!

Mostly because we got to spend it with Dallin's family. I mean, I love Thanksgiving with my fam and all (duh), but really, we don't get to see them hardly at all, so it's so nice when we do! Especially on a grand day of thanks.

As odd as it may seem, we met up with them in Las Vegas, since Thanksgiving was happening in St. George and apparently that was the most convenient airport for them to fly into. But that was just fine, because it meant we got to spend a day in Vegas! Dallin and I left pretty late Tuesday night, so we didn't get to the hotel until about 2ish, and then we were up at 6 on Wednesday morning to go to the Las Vegas temple. We spent a few hours there. I didn't get any pictures because it was cold and rainy, but it was such a good experience for us to all be there together doing temple work. After that, we went back to the hotel for a nap...which turned into more of a sleep...and left at about 5 to hit up the strip and see a show.

Dallin, his little bro Dayton, and I walked around to check some of the sights of Vegas:

The sweet fountain at the Bellagio...which we actually only ever saw from across the street because of timing issues...


The "Trevi Fountain" at...Caesar's Palace? Not sure...but this one doesn't have gelato shops surrounding it like the real one does...sigh...

My very most favorite hotel...THE VENETIAN! Yes, I have a favorite Vegas Strip hotel...you gotta problem?

Not only does this place have replicas of stuff from one of my most favorite cities ever, but this is also the very hotel that houses the Phantom theater! Dallin and I came here when he surprised me with Phantom tickets in July. (story here). And, you should probably know...me+phantom=heart. Like, a big heart with glitter on it.

Anyways, after our jaunt down the Boulevard, and dinner at Chipotle (mmm...Chipotle) we headed to Planet Hollywood to catch the hypnomagician show we had tickets for. We effing waited for an effing while before they effing let us in to see the effing guy....if you don't get my drift, the guy was a cusser. Like, an Irish cusser. We walked out after 15 minutes or so. LAME. But then, we went and saw "Bolt." Disney rocks. They just do. It was a good movie! And there was only one f-bomb in it...

sometimes I think I'm funny.

Thanksgiving morning, we packed up and headed off to St. George. It was actually a pretty short drive.

Cool foggy-ness on the drive.

St. George was great! I've driven through numerous times, but I've never actually stopped there. My favorite part was the leaves- fall leaves! Those just don't happen round these parts.


Dallin's family (we were with his Dad's side) is wonderful. They were very accepting and made me feel very welcome, even though I didn't know a lot of them! I gotta be honest, a main topic of conversation was the Twilight movie, so of course I had something to say about that! The actual Thanksgiving meal was delicious, and I even found a way to stuff myself without using my back teeth!

(Side note: My teeth/gums/cheeks/mouth are all doing fine. I actually had bruises on my cheeks, which made me sad...but they are gone now. Side note over.)

Unfortunately, all the happiness was much too short lived. After a too short nap...

...it was time to hit the road. I had to get back for work (stupid work...grumble....hate...job....grumble grumble) so we were off. It was definitely much too soon, and it made me sad! Dallin was incredibly sweet and drove the whole way...probably just as much for his own safety as for my well-being...

We drove past AZ Mills mall at about 12:30 AM on our way home, and saw the parking lot PACKED and freeway exits backed up for a mile! Craaaaazy. So glad I'm not into Black Friday shopping (and also glad I had the day off at American Eagle...)

I'm so grateful for my husband and my family. I'm grateful for the Church, for my Heavenly Father, for my Savior, and for my testimony. I'm grateful for my home, food, clothing...all the things that make my life so comfortable. I'm grateful for this country, and for the beautiful Earth we have been given. I'm grateful for good friends. I'm grateful for music, for flowers, for cookies, for rain, for good movies, for telephones, for good smelling candles, for Dr. Pepper, for pillows, for cars, and for air conditioning. Did I already mention my husband? Maybe I should again...my husband.

It was a spectacular Thanksgiving! What are you grateful for?