even more arizona lovin

Phoenix and I... we didn't really get along at first. I grew up in the rain, cold, damp, nature, green. Phoenix is dry, hot, dry, brown, dry, and brown. When Drew and I first arrived, I wasn't the least bit thrilled by the landscape, the heat, or the general drab, boring feel. While my sentiments about the landscape remain relatively unchanged, I discovered something there, far more valuable than a pretty view... a family who embraced me from the moment I walked in their door. I was completely terrified the first time I walked into the Vanasse's house. The door opened, and there, standing in a neat little line, were Drew's 500 brothers. Okay, only 3 of 5 were there, plus a sister, but it was overwhelming nonetheless. I quickly got over that feeling.

There is an instantaneous sense of warmth and welcome when you enter this house. They are all so relaxed and at ease with themselves, with each other, that I couldn't help but feel the same. They pick on each other, beat each other up, make fun of each other... just as any good family should.

Several weeks ago, Drew and I drove out for a visit, and to get his truck fixed. What was supposed to take about three days turned into almost a week long trip. Not a bad thing after all, we got to spend a lot of quality time with everyone, and a lot of lazy mornings sitting in our pjs.. talking and drinking coffee. Rough life. Plus, Drew and I may have stayed up incredibly late several nights in a row, in order to beat Halo Reach together. It's an excellent relationship strengthening exercise, I'd say.

I have always been impressed by Rochelle, the youngest sibling, and only sister. She is the baby of the family, of course ... (I can identify with that), but she is much more than that. At only 12 years old, she is surprisingly mature, confident and self-assured. I suppose this impresses me, because at 12, I was incredibly shy, insecure and had no confidence. And that was with only 1 sister giving me a hard time... not 6 brothers. (Perhaps that's what plays into her confidence? That's another musing for another day.)

During our time in Phoenix, Rochelle and I had a fun little photo shoot in the backyard. This girl is already turning into a beautiful young woman!

Another highlight of the trip was, of course, the Vanasse's ridiculously clumsy golden retriever puppy, Chewie. Did I say puppy? I meant ENORMOUS dog. Yes, those are both my pairs of shoes. His shining moment was one evening, when we were all outside. Drew fake threw a "ball" for him, and he got incredibly excited and ran off toward the pool. He then mistook a small brown leaf for something he should be fetching. Where was the leaf? Yes, right in the middle of the pool. What did Chewie do? Yes, he dove in, retrieved it, and brought it back to us.