The Photographer in Me

Simon and our friend Greg have been helping me figure out how to use this amazing camera of ours.



Loving the Arizona beauty.

The Ranch House

Roy and I have spent almost two months looking for a place to live.  We're going to be there for a minimum of three years, and it could be a lot longer.  So, naturally, we want to take our time.  Really find something perfect.  Cheap and perfect.

But for now we are homeless.  The only thing keeping us off the dark, cruel streets of Tucson is the generosity of family.  :-)

So we're staying in the ranch house, as I've mentioned before.  It's a neat old house, watched over by this little gnome.

 I've always wondered about that gnome, sitting out there in the courtyard with his little pipe.  I finally asked Grandma about him and learned he belonged to grandpa's mother- my great grandmother, Vaughn!  {There's a cool middle name for a kid someday, right?}  So I decided I like him.  In the daylight, at least.  I still think the ranch house gets a little scary after dark, and a knee-high little man doesn't ease my nerves.

The layout of the house is really cool... but at night it reminds me of horror movies.

 Roy thinks it's just me.  He thinks I'm a big baby.  But come on, people!  Can't you just see the Skeleton Key children walking past that last doorway in their deteriorating nightgowns?

The bathroom is fantastic, straight out of the old days.  But I think there's a spider living in there.  I found a cobweb going from the wall to my toothbrush.  And I DO brush my teeth twice a day, thank you very much.

But hey-the house is amazing.  I love old stuff.  This bench has been here since the house was built in 1939.

 And I love the unique art on the windows by the front door.

And bugs aren't the only wildlife on the ranch!

Aren't they cute?  Just waiting for Mama!

 The house that Grandpa and Grandma live in is on the property, so we get to go over there and hang out with them from time to time.  Play some cards.  

Grandma and Grandpa are so good at cards... I've given up trying to win.

 I love this picture, they're both laughing.

And here are two more pictures I just love of them.

Thanks Grandpa and Grandma for letting us stay in your ranch house while we are homeless.  And for countless other things you've done for us.  Love you guys so much!

Newest Addition to the Collett Clan

Taking another foreign exchange student was somewhat of a last minute decision for my parents.  One that they're already thrilled they made.

And I'm thrilled too.  Even though it means Roy and I are kicked out of the house.

My old bedroom has been designated as the foreign exchange room, apparently.  It's appropriate since the room has its own bathroom--not to mention it's been empty for years.  And the loud pink and yellow walls from my childhood were acceptable for a chika.  Irina from Argentina didn't complain.  But my mom wasn't about to stick a boy in there.  And that's what they ordered.  A boy from Germany. 

So something had to be done about those walls. 

Roy had yet to start school, so he had plenty of time to dedicate to painting.  He and Mom did most of the work.  But the rest of us pitched in as well.

Dad liked the color so much he suggested we get started on the master bedroom.  But we didn't.  One bedroom was enough work!  Three coats!

 As you can tell, these pictures were taken before we sheered Roy's huge hair.

And then Mom and her sisters got started on finding things to use in the bedroom.  When those ladies get together, the result is always fabulous.

I wish I had a before picture so you could see the drastic difference.  But just close your eyes and imagine pink and yellow walls with the light switch plates painted bright red.

Need I say more?

Alright, time to meet the newest member of the Collett family.

Let's see if you can guess which one is the foreign exchange student.
One of these things is not like the others...

I love the red hair and his European wardrobe.  Meet: SIMON
{In German pronounced ZEE-MOAN}

He's fifteen, speaks great English, is obviously bright, and is my new photographer mentor. 
He and Zac are inseparable.  Already, we all love this kid.

Mystery Needles

Our life has never been so sky high, up in the air, absolutely insane.

I've been maybe a bit overly-zealous in documenting every spooky, thrilling, horrible, fantastic moment with our new camera.  The pictures are awesome!  The only problem is, I haven't figured out how to get those pictures on my computer.  The files are in a format I'm not familiar with.

As soon as I figure it out I'll post some pictures of our current residence: a ranch house built in 1939.  It belongs to my grandparents, who have graciously allowed us to stay there while we are homeless.  It's a great house.

But sometimes, late at night... it can be a little scary.

I don't know why!  I guess that eerie feeling just naturally creeps into the walls of an old house once nighttime shadows are out.  Or maybe it's because so many horror movies are set in old buildings.

So it was yesterday at work when I realized I'd been subconsciously scratching at the inside of my elbow all morning.  I looked down to see what the deal was and saw this:

It looks exactly like a mark left by a menacing needle!!!

Of course I tried to rein in my wild imagination with rational thoughts of bugs and spiders.  The house is in the middle of the desert, with plenty of wildlife around.  It wouldn't be surprising if a little bed bug snuggled into the crook of my arm in the night.

I took that picture with my cell phone and sent it to Roy with the following text: "A needle mark in my arm!?  What have you been doing while I'm sleeping?"

I chuckled, thinking I'm so funny.

Roy responded with:  "Weird, I have one too!"

Well that wiped the smile off my face.  Now my mind is racing with aliens and UFOs!!!!  Out in that little house in the desert all by ourselves- who knows what could have happened?!  Those spacemen could come right out of the clouds and snatch us up for the night and do experiments on us and no one would stir!

But then Roy: "JK"

Phew!  I almost freaked myself out.

Of course it was just some kissing bug.

Or WAS it?!?!?!?!


Lake Powell 2011

All year we look forward to Lake Powell.  It's a family tradition that we'll keep up forever.  I plan on wheeling my parents onto the houseboat when they're grey and decrepit.  And my grandkids better do that for me too!  There's just nothing better than Lake Powell.

 Roy and I took over 1,000 pictures on the trip with our new camera.

Figured no one would have the patience to look through all of them {about half are of the guys wakeboarding behind the speed boat}.  But here are some of our  favorites:

These are our great friends, Skyler and Sydney Smedley.  Syd and I met while traveling abroad and have since been roommates, bridesmaids, confidants, and BFFs.  Love this girl.  And Sky is such a blast.  We love hanging out with them and were stoked to have the opportunity, since we now live so far away from each other.

Mom is the organizer of the trip.  She plans out who is in charge of meals, cleaning the bathrooms, doing the dishes.  She keeps us all well fed.

And Dad is the captain.

Good team right here.  They pull it off every summer.

This year we had a lot of extended Collett family with us.  Together {plus some friends} we filled up two houseboats. 

Lots of wakeboarding!


We only had one major injury from wakeboarding this year.

Luckily for Seth we had a doctor on board.  No trip to the ER necessary.

 So after seeing that... now more than ever I've given up the whole trying to catch some air.  I love watching Cory land back flips, Mason pull off 360s, etc. but that's where it ends for me.  I'll pop around and have some fun and then I'm done and back to watching.

 Until the boat breaks...

Luckily these guys are good at quick fixes.

 Flagging.  I think we broke two flags on this trip.

Zac's happy face.

 The Nielson's brought paddle boards.  They're so fun, I love them.  Miranda and I took them out every day.  They made for killer pictures, too.

 I've talked about this before, but Roy has crazy hair.  I mean cray-zhee!  It grows up and out, and if we let it get out of control, it makes Roy's head look twice the size it really is.

So I was looking forward to the Powell  tradition of giving all the guys mohawks. 

I think Roy should rock the hawk for a few more months!


I loved the job!

 Oh, and I think I found Roy's first grey hair!!!!  {You can see the hair really well on my computer}

Here's Zac and Mason's finished hawks:

Those who didn't get mohawks got... something else...

 The only way this trip could have been any better is if Roy hadn't had strep throat the first few days.  I found myself stumbling around the pitch black kitchen in the middle of the night looking for Ibuprofen while my poor husband sweat out a fever in our little cabin.

Again, thank goodness for having a doctor on board.  Roy was good as new after three days. 
But when he wasn't feeling up to baking in the sun all day, he busted out the camera.  He's pretty good, too!  Between Alexa and us, we really started figuring out how to work this thing.

Everyone helped in the kitchen.

Everyone got together for dinner every night.  

Everyone lathered up with soap and jumped in the lake for their "baths".

 But not everyone loves fish.  Is that safe to assume?  Uncle Guy just loves fishing. 

Even when the lake consists entirely of small, brown slimy things.  Eck.

 There were a few afternoons where we had brief storms roll in.  It was perfect!  It cooled off the hot sand and rock, and gave us a chance to relax too.

That is, as long as the storm wasn't blowing the houseboat all over the place!  There was one storm that appeared out of nowhere, and in seconds the side of the boat was being slammed into the shore!

The guys scrambled outside...

While the girls watched...

Meanwhile, a rope got tied around one of the props.  Not good!

It was up to James to rescue us.  His job was to use this knife:

to cut the rope away from the prop.  I took this picture of his hands just in case it was the last one.  You never know with those propeller blades ;-)

 He survived.

The Powell Party always ends with a night of comedy.  It's another tradition: the Talentless Show.  This year there was an unintentional theme of game shows.  It was pretty hilarious.  We started out with the Newlyweds Game Show. 

The other game shows/skits were great.  I don't think anyone will be able to forget Alexa's depiction of a boy going through puberty.  Awesome!

The duct tape dress made by Miranda and Zinnia. 

We loved hanging out with the cousins, aunts and uncles, friends, and the whole Neilson family.  But more than anything it was cool to finally be able to chill with the Mom, Dad, Mason, Alexa, and Zac.  All of us together again for more than 24 hours!

 Looking forward to next summer.  Teehee!